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Speakers 2018

Mandy Aggett

Mandy Aggett is the Programme Leader for Undergraduate Hospitality Management Programmes, and the Placements and Employability Lead for The Department of Tourism and Hospitality at Plymouth University. She is also Co-Director of Plymouth University Hotel School.

Gareth Allen

The managing director of Soundview. He worked as a television journalist, producer and director for twenty years before setting up Soundview in 2009. Soundview creates award-winning destination marketing videos throughout the South West, connecting audiences with the world-class experience on offer in the region. Soundview has been at the forefront of producing unmanned aerial video for tourism businesses. Sponsoring both the West Country Tourism Conference and the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, Soundview understands the vital contribution tourism makes to the region.

Robin Barker 

Director of Services for Tourism Ltd. He is also President of Tourism Management Institute, and a Director of both the Tourism Alliance and VisitDevon.

Current and recent responsibilities include the Tourism Awards for Cornwall, Devon, Dorset & the South West, Tourism Conferences across the region, and a 2012 Marketing plan for VisitEngland.

This follows a career of 30+ years in travel and tourism, including 6 years at Saga Group, a year as an overseas resort rep, 12 years in consultancy, 2 years at National Maritime Museum Cornwall and 5 years as Marketing Director of South West Tourism. He is a fellow of Tourism Management Institute and wouldn't live anywhere but South West England.

Matt Bowkett

Matt’s 14 years of tourism experience has been gained working for, and with, various DMOs across the UK in the online marketing and booking sectors. He has spent the last nine years at eviivo working and running the UK sales operation. eviivo provide an all-in-one booking suite for over 12,000 independent accommodation businesses across the UK and Europe helping them to take advantage of the growing online booking market.

Thomas Chartres-Moore

A solicitor in the IP and IT team at Stephens Scown. He is also on the board of directors of Food and Drink Devon, a not-for-profit organisation set up to help quality food and drink producers based in Devon. He has over five years experience advising clients on IP and IT issues, and works with start-ups to multi-national businesses. A self professed geek, Thomas is valued by IT clients for his intrinsic understanding of both the law and its practical application.

As an IP specialist, Thomas' work includes:

  • advice on the creation and expansion of international trade mark portfolios;
  • advising clients on legal frameworks for intellectual property exploitation such as licencing and franchising;
  • conduct and management of data verification exercises and covert test purchases;
  • planning and execution of intra-group IP restructures. 

Katie Davies

 Originally an Education Ranger at the Forestry Commission, Katie joined Moors Valley in February 2004 as a Countryside Ranger before moving to her communications role in 2006. She qualified in British Sign Language in her own time and continues to develop her wildlife knowledge by volunteering with Butterfly Conservation.  She won the Outstanding Customer Service Award in the 2017 Dorset Tourism Awards.

Kate Doodson

 Joint Chief Executive of Cosmic, one of the leading social enterprises in the South West and recognised across the UK for its achievements and ongoing development. Kate is a girl geek having spent 18 years in the IT industry, many of which running a wholly female owned IT software business.

Kate specialises in Digital Futures and the strategic use of Digital to transform business processes. She is passionate about ensuring businesses use the full range of digital services available to them to give them the edge they need to thrive, particularly in the rural economy. Kate regularly delivers lectures regularly across the South West and presents nationally and internationally on Digital Transformation. Most notably, she lectured in Milan at the UK Pavilion during the Milan Expo. Kate is a steering group member of the South West Cyber Security Cluster, Chair of Marketing on Visit Devon Board and a STEM ambassador in Schools.

Her previous career in Civil Engineering enabled her to work extensively in both the UK and overseas.

Gemma Edmonds

 After spending 15 years as a General Manager/ Senior Manager at some of South Devon’s premier hotels, Gemma has recently joined The Springboard Charity and Springboard UK Ltd as Head of the South West.  Focusing on helping young people achieve their potential, supporting unemployed people of any age into work and people facing multiple barriers to work in the hospitality industry. Whilst supporting business by promoting hospitality, leisure and tourism as a great place to work and providing specialist services to businesses to attract talent and support Human Resource and Corporate Social Responsibility priorities.  Gemma is also a Director of Visit South Devon and a St Julian Scholar. 

Terry Falcao

 A partner and the head of the employment law team at Stephens Scown.  He conducts litigation giving practical advice, guiding clients on tactics in complex disputes and always seeking workable solutions.  His team also advises on employment and HR issues for companies throughout the UK. 

Terry is an experienced litigator but also a strong advocate of resolving disputes at an early stage to avoid lengthy and costly litigation. He is one of the few qualified employment disputes mediators in the South West.

He is ranked in Chambers and recommended in Legal 500 as “efficient, knowledgeable, and expert in the area.”

Deborah Heather

 Deborah Heather is the Director of Quality in Tourism and heads up the M Assessment team. With over 25 years of experience in hospitality, including roles with Radisson, Q Hotels and Dartington Hall. A graduate of the Cornell University General Managers program Deborah has a true understanding of the issues facing the industry. Deborah is currently working hard with industry partners to provide support to accommodation providers, representing their unique qualities transparently and assuring the consumer of their quality standard. 

Alison Howell 

Proud to be an SME rural travel company and a family business, but don’t let their size fool you. Alison Howell's Foot Trails are super committed to providing world class, custom made walking experiences through South West England and have been called pioneers in rural, sustainable tourism.

Since it began in 2002, Foot Trails has continually punched above its size and in 2012 began its most ambitious goal to date to export to the United States. A commitment to excellence has seen this rural company be invited to Downing Street to share good practice, win regional and national awards and its walking experiences featured by global travel publications such as The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times and National Geographic Traveller.

Founder and CEO Alison Howell outlines their story from one man band to world focused tourism company and gives inspiration and tips for those who want to reach overseas to the United States.

Helen Laing

 A ‘hard core’ Chartered Marketer with many years’ experience in the hospitality industry; her work focuses on driving measurable results with impetus and cost efficiency.

Helen has worked with many well-known hotels, venues and destinations in the South-West, and indeed the UK. Her work covers everything from business strategy and branding, through to hands-on marketing implementation, revenue management and guest experience. Very passionate about hospitality, she fundamentally understands how to influence the buying process, and helps hospitality businesses engage and inspire. Digitally savvy with a creative approach, Helen works with venues large and small, making budgets (large and small!) go further. She has many trade secrets up her sleeve and is most guilty of saying “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but…”!

Anke MonestelAnke

Head of England Partner Engagement, VisitEngland

After a stint in Business Development with an incoming tour operator, Anke joined VisitBritain/VisitEngland and has worked for the organisation for over 13 years in various roles. These have covered travel trade, international marketing, project management and running VisitEngland’s international network. Anke now heads up VisitEngland’s engagement with partners, incl. destination management organisations, organising a number of groups and conferences to plan joint activity, discuss tourism policy and share best practice.


Alison Northfield (Dombey)

Ally is the co -founder of Revenue by Design and specialises in creating and managing profit optimising revenue management strategies, designed to unleash trapped profitability in hotels, and reduce cost of sale through smart third-party management. Ally has spent much of the last 12 years travelling the world designing and delivering training courses and building and implementing revenue management strategies for independent hotels, hotel groups and the tourism industry.

Nathan Payne

 Has worked for for over 4 years managing Account Executive/Account Management teams across the whole of the South of England and Wales, developing a deep understanding of the individual markets.  Nathan has recently returned back to the UK after spending 2 years in Australia, where he opened's third and most recent office in Brisbane, Australia.  Prior to working at, Nathan spent over 6 years working  Having over 10 years experience in the online travel industry, Nathan has seen the industry change and evolve dramatically.

Nigel Ponsford

 Has been involved in the private water industry for over 20 years with experience varying from installing a bore hole to increase margins on a dairy farm to large scale irrigation of palm oil to increase production and save rain forests.

I now work as a Key Account manager for farmers and growers advising them and others on how to save water and reduce bills by using water more efficiently, or moving them off mains onto private supplies like boreholes, wells, springs and rain water.

Without water there is no life.

PS. I really wanted to be a rock star 

Geoff Ramm

Like you, Geoff Ramm, the creator of Celebrity Service and OMG Marketing, knows the only way you can attract more customers is to create jaw-dropping marketing. Not only that but great customer service leads to lucrative, repeat business. So how do you create highly successful marketing ideas? And how can you design a customer experience that has you talked about for decades to come? Geoff knows the Jedi Mind Trick to make you craved by your customers, envied by your competitors and raved about in your industry. In his interactive keynotes, you will not only discover out-of-this-world ideas, you will come up with them and be excited to implement them too. Companies across six continents have outperformed their competitors by using Geoff's unique insights on customer service and marketing. Geoff’s on-stage presence will have you on the edge of your creative seats. Laugh out loud at the greatest cabin crew member of all time. Get a lump in your throat at the sight of a sesame seed bun. Discover simple and cost effective ideas that will have the world talking about your business.

Pete Stevens

 Senior Marketing Analyst, Clockwork Marketing. Pete has worked in digital marketing for over 10 years and specialises in hotel website optimisation, User Experience (UX) and analytics. He delivers insightful, actionable analysis to support and grow hospitality businesses. Working with hoteliers who want to improve their existing digital presence, as well as those looking for a fresh start, his work increases online conversions.

Aaron Thornton

 Has worked for for almost 3 years managing Account Executive/Account Management teams across the whole of the South West of England and Wales. Aaron was one of the original team members who opened up the Bristol office in March 2015 and throughout his time has developed an understanding of the individual markets in the South West, specifically as an Account manager supporting partners in Wales and Somerset.  Prior to working at, Aaron spent over 5 years working in Retail marketing and is still enjoying every minute of moving back to the South West.