The Team

Darren Panto BA (Hons) M.Inst.TT
Managing Director

In 1988, Darren entered the travel industry following a stint playing professional cricket for Sussex County Cricket Club. It was through cricket that he was able to see such incredible countries as India and Pakistan, touring extensively and developing a taste for travel.

Darren studied for a business degree with tourism (1989-91) and wrote his dissertation on the EC Directive on Package Travel Regulations (90/314/EC), studying tourism law and implications. He spent the summers working as an overseas representative in France for Intasun (part of the International Leisure Group), and in Spain for Cosmos, as well as working for Cosmos in Agency Sales in the UK.

A four year spell as Agency Sales Manager at Longwood Holidays was followed by 13 years at Peltours, a member of the GBTA (Guild of Business Travel Agents) now known as GTMC (Guild of Travel Management Companies). A large incentive and group agency and a tour operator to Israel, Egypt and Jordan. Darren expanded this to include South Africa, Canary Islands, Romania, and UAE and worked his way to become Sales & Marketing Director.

Developing successful partnerships and commercial relationships through innovation and dedication, Darren signed for Peltours to become the first UK tour operator to have a commercial agreement with lastminute.com & Travelocity, becoming a leading supplier.

As a former chairman of the travel industry training consortium for top independent tour operators and tourist boards BRIGHT (Bring Real Information & Guaranteed High Quality Training), Darren has travelled throughout the UK on Roadshows with leading specialist tour operators, travel agents, hotels and tourist boards, establishing extensive contacts.

At Peltours, Darren was instrumental in establishing Taba Heights as a holiday destination. At Peltours, he announced the inaugural dedicated charter flight series to this Red Sea destination, followed by the first ever (and only) dedicated charter flights and holiday programme to the Mediterranean coast of El Alamein.

Darren is experienced at working with government organisations, tourist offices, trade and consumer press, business and leisure travel agents, online travel companies, online media and closed user groups. Developing new markets, destinations and programmes, while focusing on the strength of the brand, has been core to the success of each project.

Having contracted with hotels (international brands and smaller independents), facilities and services around the world, Darren has worked with ground agents and hoteliers in cities and resorts allowing experience to be gained in understanding different cultures and ways of life.
Joint projects with large organisations such as Marriott Hotels both in the UK via the London head office, as well as in resorts and cities both in the leisure and incentive market, include development of the golf market and joint participation with the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) in the UK.

Doug Goodman

Doug spent 17 years with Thomson Travel, the world’s biggest tour operator, as head of press and PR and was also the company spokesman. In 1988 he set up Doug Goodman Public Relations, and he has worked with the national and provincial press, magazines, radio and TV, as well as freelance writers for more 30 years gaining a well-earned reputation of trust. He has close contacts with the upmarket and specialist press, as well as the British Guild of Travel Writers and other associations and key freelancers.

Doug is also a crisis management expert and has provided media training for such companies as P&O Cruises, Swan Hellenic, Thomson, ABTA, Monarch Airlines and more.

Doug’s love of fine wines has recently led him to looking after the tourist region account of Champagne-Ardenne in France, the perfect account for his company. As well as a number of regions, he also looks after various hotel groups across Europe including France, Spain including Mallorca, Madeira and Greek islands. He enjoys travelling and has the experience that only time can buy.

Cathryn Hicks

Cathryn has some 15 years experience in travel and leisure industry and PR. She has wide experience of the marketing and promotion of hotels, resorts and destinations, having spent several years working with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts worldwide. She also works with individual hotels, smaller hotel associations, tour operators and tourist boards. Cathryn is a skilled copywriter and one of those people who has endless enthusiasm and energy for everything that she does.

Katie Bolton

Katie brings 10 years experience in fast moving and changing environments. She was one of the first employees of lastminute.com in the UK, starting at its inception with founders Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane-Fox, and has proven herself in relationship building with an outstanding record in internal communications, project management and account management.
 
She began her travel career as a sales consultant with STA, before becoming Holidays Account Manager for lastminute.com, forging alliances with tour operators and becoming the UK Account Manager. She became New Travel Product Development and Project Manager, Having set up agreements, strategy and supplier promotions with key partners, it became clear that one of Katie’s main strengths was communications; she worked her way up to become Head of Internal Communications – Europe for lastminute.com, incorporating 10 countries.

Katie enjoys travelling and scuba diving, and has travelled extensively throughout India, South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, South America and the USA.