Speakers for VAC 2020 to be announced soon!
Please find below the speakers from last year.
Head of Commercial Services, British Library
Caroline started her career as a history teacher but left to join the wine business where she spent 16 years before joining the cultural sector.
Caroline worked as Head of Commerce at Royal Museums Greenwich for 8 years- a stint which culminated in 2012 with the re-opening of Cutty Sark and the hosting of the Olympic equestrian events. Since then she has been the Head of Commercial Services at the British Library – a role that encompasses Visitor Experience, Commercial Enterprise and Membership. Caroline is also the Chair of the Board of the Association of Cultural Enterprises.
Vice President, BVA Nudge Unit UK
Richard is a Vice President of the BVA Nudge Unit UK, and one of the most experienced practitioners using behavioural science in communications in the UK – with over fifteen years’ experience. He has worked in senior strategic roles for both local and central government in Australia and the UK, and at four of the ‘big five’ global communication networks. Whilst in Australia he created their first Behaviour Change Unit, and his strategy for the #XTL campaign (a social media campaign addressing domestic violence) won the Global Festival of Media Campaign of the Year in 2014, and he also led the development of the world’s most successful stop smoking mobile app (My QuitBuddy). He returned to the UK in 2015 to become the first dedicated Head of Ogilvy Change, a global behavioural practice, before moving to the BVA Nudge Unit in 2019.
He is a frequent conference speaker and board member of the Association for Business Psychology – an industry body that is the home and voice of business psychology in the UK by promoting professional excellence and a community of practice.
Research Director, BVA BDRC
Enabling clients’ strategic development in the attractions, tourism and leisure sector, Max has been a director in BDRC’s specialist insights team since 2008. Applying progressive quantitative and qualitative market research techniques, the team help many UK attractions drive up visitor numbers, increase membership and put on great exhibitions. BVA BDRC owns VisitorVerdict, the low cost online benchmarking model for small attractions and are also responsible for managing and delivering ALVA’s visitor experience benchmarking scheme for larger attractions. Prior to life at BDRC, Max was a financial magazine publisher in the city, focused on the global funds industry.
Joss is an accomplished, entrepreneurial leader, who is delivery focused. His experience has given him a strong understanding of the international visitor economy and wider business, and the challenges facing organisations. He has a passion for developing people and delivering outstanding customer service.
Before joining UKinbound in November 2018, Joss was Managing Director of Marketing at the Department for International Trade, responsible for the marketing and communications programme for UK exports and investment including the delivery of the events programme of over 1,000 events per annum (including the prizewinning UK Pavilion at Expo Astana 2017). He was previously Marketing Director of VisitBritain, involved in the development of the award-winning GREAT Britain and NI campaign. In February 2010 he was awarded Industry Personality of the Year by the readers of Meetings and Incentive Travel. He started out his life in tourism working in Food and Beverage at Disneyland Paris.
CEO and Director, ALVA
Bernard is the Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which represents the most important iconic and popular museums, galleries, cathedrals, palaces, castles, stately homes, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens, zoos and leisure attractions in the UK. For two years, 2015 to 2017, Bernard was the Chairman of the Tourism Alliance, which represents over 250,000 tourism businesses in the UK.
Bernard is Chairman of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT); Chairman of the Ambassadors’ Council of WWF-UK; Deputy Chairman and Trustee of Kids in Museums. He is a Trustee of: The Geffrye Museum of the Home; The Heritage Alliance; and is a Council Member of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. He is a former Chairman of VisitManchester; a former Trustee of WWF-UK, Centrepoint, the National Funding Scheme and was a founder Trustee of the Kaleidoscope Equality Trust. Two years ago, he was made the Mayor of London’s Ambassador for Cultural Tourism.
Selina Fellows Retail & Marketing Consultancy
Selina established her own consultancy in 2000 after setting up the retail operation at the Millennium Dome. Her first client was the State Hermitage Museum with whom she worked for 4 years. As a consultant, she has worked with museums, galleries, arts centres, stately homes, zoos, cathedrals, visitor attractions and heritage sites – both in the UK and internationally. The scale of her client’s operations vary from a few thousand to several million visitors each year. She also runs courses in Buying and Merchandising.
Prior to setting up her own consultancy, she worked for the Royal Academy of Arts, English Heritage and a design agency. Selina is a Director/Trustee of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, The Hepworth Wakefield Enterprises and St Paul’s Cathedral Enterprises.
Chief Executive, Adido
Andy helped set up Adido as an award-winning digital agency in Dorset in 2003. As CEO of Adido, Andy has a vast knowledge of all areas of digital marketing and is a regular blogger, contributor and presenter on all areas of digital. His most speciﬁc areas of expertise and interest are search marketing, travel marketing and future innovations in the digital world.
Adido are experts in the travel and tourism sector and have in-house marketing experts who have held senior posts client-side with large Travel Brands including P&O, Royal Caribbean International and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Andy is also a proud member of ITT (Institute of Travel & Tourism), Chair for the Digital South group, Business South and is also on the great Board of Silicon South.
Chief Executive, BALPPA
Paul has spent the whole of his working life in the attractions industry. As a student he worked on the ghost ride at Thorpe Park. Having spent many happy years there heading up the operation, he moved over to the London Eye in 1999/2000, as part of the Tussauds Group to head up the operational launch of, what turned out to be Britain’s busiest paid for attraction. After five years and a purchase by the Merlin group, Paul worked on Business Development projects in the UK and around the world. Paul joined BALPPA as Chief Executive in 2012, and has led the organisation since then.
The 8th Early of Leicester, Holkham Estate
Earl of Leicester
Tom Coke succeeded to the title of Earl of Leicester in May 2015 upon the death of his father. After studying History of Art at Manchester University and serving for six years in the Scots Guards, he returned to North Norfolk and became actively involved in managing the Holkham estate. Whilst farming remains a core activity, since 1993 he has overseen the diversification of the estate away from its dependence on agriculture toward leisure, tourism, nature conservation and property development.
Managing Director, Knebworth Estates
Martha Lytton Cobbold
Martha, a dual citizen of the US and UK, is a graduate of NYU with a double major in Journalism and History of Art. She lives with her husband Henry in his ancestral home, Knebworth House, where they are now the 19th generation since it was built in 1490. Martha has worked directly with the estate since 1993, and is the Managing Director of the leisure management business and estate overseeing and running the lettings, day visitor season, catering, events, concerts, films and diversification projects. She administrates the charitable trust on behalf of 9 trustees. In addition to working with a number of regional committees in farming, business, and tourism, including being the current Co-Chair of Visit Herts, Martha has chaired the Tourism and Commercial Development Committee for the Historic Houses Association and is currently the Deputy President of HH.
Director, Boo Productions & First Ruffian, Ruff Trade Training
Bala began working in the visitor attraction industry in 2007, writing and directing shows for London Zoo and the Science Museum. Since then he’s been involved in many projects including creating tours for the Olympic venues, recruiting and training the FOH teams for Dreamland Margate and he has a permanent contract with the National Gallery to staff and manage their visitor fundraising team where they have increased visitor donations by more than 300%. Bala says he is passionate about creating unique, engaging and exciting experiences that inspire and entertain a diverse range of audiences, whilst also delivering great commercial success.
Kate Nicholls is CEO of UKHospitality, the powerful voice representing the broad hospitality sector, having previously worked as CEO and Strategic Affairs Director of the ALMR.
In July 2019, Kate was appointed Chair of the Tourism Alliance, the membership organisation for the tourism industry comprising of leading trade associations/trade bodies within the sector. Kate is also Chair of Mayor of London’s Night Time Commission and is also a member of the Events Industry Board, London Food Board, Tourism Industry Council, Cultural Cities Enquiry, London & Partners Members Group and the Advisory Board for the Institute for Industrial Strategy.
After gaining a degree in English and a post-graduate diploma in competition law, Kate worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament before joining Whitbread as Government Relations Manager, starting her career in hospitality in 1993. Kate was Director at one of the largest independent public affairs companies, working with a number of hospitality, retail and leisure accounts before establishing her own strategic communications consultancy in 2000. She is a graduate of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Kings College London.
Head of Marketing, Castle Howard
Abbi is a proud Yorkshire marketing and communications devotee and current member of Castle Howard’s Senior Management Team. After a ten year career in Theatre and a shorter stint in Higher Education, Abbi made the move into the Heritage and Visitor Attractions sector and has been Head of Marketing and Sales at Castle Howard for the past two years (and is loving every minute!). Outside of life at Castle Howard, Abbi is also on the Board of Trustees for International Children’s Theatre Company, tutti frutti productions, is mum to a kamikaze 5 year old, is an avid foodie and, to offset the cake intake, likes to explore the UK’s beautiful outdoors as an ultra marathon trail runner.
Head of Marketing, Continuum Attractions
Jules has spent the last 15 years’ building strong marketing communities in the cultural and leisure sector and currently leads a dynamic team of marketers at Continuum Attractions. A proud Northerner, she holds a 1st Class hons Degree in Economics from Newcastle (but definitely didn’t want to work in finance!) and Master’s degree in Cultural Management – she is a commercial head on creative shoulders.
Innovative with boundless energy, Jules is known for pushing the boundaries and taking risks. She thrives on a challenge and has a passion for communicating in imaginative ways whilst using science to prove the case for great creative campaigns. When not at her desk she can be found performing a downward dog (she’s a qualified yoga teacher) or taking her upward dog, Ruby, for a nice long walk.
Assistant Director, the Office of Product Safety & Standards
Kathryn is the Assistant Director, Local Delivery at the Office for Product & Safety Standards, in the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Industrial Strategy. Here, she leads a team working with local authority regulatory services and business representatives to ensure regulatory approaches are simple, consistent, clear and well understood. Her team delivers both the Primary Authority and Better Business for All programmes across England and Wales and works with local authorities to ensure they are considering their approaches to compliance with the Regulators Code.
Founding Director, Digital Visitor
Digital Visitor helps tourism, destination, experience, and hospitality brands use digital channels to attract more visitors – from around the corner or around the world. How? By providing a range of expert digital marketing services that encompass strategy, campaigns and content, digital advertising, PR and training. But in a way that’s completely results-driven and rigorously measured from start to finish. Brands come to us for all sorts of reasons. Namely, to help them raise awareness, increase sales, promote an experience, grow visitor numbers, or boost the local tourist economy. Often it’s a mix of these. Occasionally, it’s all of them.
Solicitor, Burges Salmon LLP
John is an employment lawyer at Burges Salmon. He advises employers and employees in both the public and private sectors on a broad range of contentious and non-contentious employment and HR issues. John also specialises in business immigration, advising on a wide variety of immigration matters such as sponsor licences, sponsor duties and visa applications.
John is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association. He also regularly runs client training seminars and is a contributor to publications such as XpertHR and Practical Law.
Managing Director, Zip World
David enjoyed 25 years in the Health and Fitness sector, working for industry giants David Lloyd and Virgin Active as Regional Director and UK Operations Director respectively. He is currently Managing Director of Zip World. A keen runner, David clocks up 40 miles per week. He’s also a passionate sports fan and Saints (Southampton FC) season ticket holder. However, he’s an avid Liverpool FC supporter at heart, and and also an enthusiastic pitch-side parent.
CEO, The Wave
Craig is a qualified accountant who started working life working for a FTSE 250 holiday business and a global investment bank. He honed his entrepreneurial skills by buying his first company at the age of 26, and went onto set up a multi-channel retail business selling children’s furniture, which he exited in 2009 having grown the company to £15m turnover with 85 employees.
Craig has since worked with a wide range of funders and businesses both in the UK and internationally to raise money, build value, manage challenging turnarounds and optimise performance. He is the CEO of The Wave, an inland surfing destination that is opening in Bristol in November. The Wave uses the latest technology to bring the joy of surfing and its many health benefits to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, from a child stepping on a board for the first time, to an elite surfer training for the Olympics.
England Director, VisitEngland
Andrew Stokes joined VisitEngland in 2016 as the England Director.
Prior to this he spent 16 years as CEO of Marketing Manchester. He worked on the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the creation of a major events strategy for the city region. He bid for and chaired Euro Pride in 2003. He also co-ordinated the strategy for both the acquisition of major political conferences and in conjunction with Manchester airport, its route development strategy.
Andrew has also held leadership roles within the former London Tourist Board, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall. He also sat on the boards of Manchester International Festival and Manchester Central Convention Complex.
Head of Marketing, Chester Zoo
Jenny spent the first 8 years of her career working in arts marketing with The Lowry and Tate Liverpool and developed an interest in audience development and community engagement.
Following this, Jenny moved to the NHS as a public health behaviour change specialist.
Chester Zoo is a conservation and education charity with a mission to ‘prevent extinction’. As one of the most visited attractions outside London, Chester Zoo welcomes 2 million visitors each year and generates 97% of its income through its commercial operation. Since joining the zoo in 2012 Jenny has been responsible for marketing campaigns and sales performance and also in lending ‘behaviour change’ expertise to conservation campaigning and environmental communications activity.
Chief Executive, National Museums Northern Ireland
Kathryn has been Chief Executive of National Museums NI since March 2016. As custodians of the national collection of over 1.4million objects, National Museums NI operates 4 museums across 3 sites – the Ulster Museum in Belfast, the Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster Transport Museum at Cultra and the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. Prior to her current role, Kathryn was Chief Operating Officer at Tourism NI for 11 years.
Kathryn holds a BCom (Hons) degree in Business Studies from the University of Edinburgh, completed her accountancy training at PWC and has a professional qualification as a Chartered Accountant. In addition, Kathryn holds a public appointment as a Director of the Strategic Investment Board. She is also sits on the Boards of both Tourism Ireland and Visit Belfast, as well as being a Director and Trustee on the Board 3 charities – the Simon Community NI, Open House Festival and the Grand Opera House.
Director, 14-18 NOW, Imperial War Museums
Jenny Waldman CBE
Jenny is Director of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official cultural programme for the First World War centenary. Working with arts and heritage organisations across the UK, 14-18 NOW commissioned leading artists to create new artworks for a programme that reached over 35 million people. Headline projects include Jeremy Deller’s We’re here because we’re here, Peter Jackson’s film They Shall Not Grow Old and Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea on 32 beaches around the UK.
Jenny was Creative Producer of the London 2012 Festival for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. She created the public events programme at Somerset House, and spent 5 years as Director of Arts Centre Programmes at the Southbank Centre.
Head of Research & Insights, VisitEngland
Humphrey has worked in market research for over fifteen years. He started his career at Acanchi, a destination branding consultancy, where he spent three years working with the governments of Bahrain, the Dominican Republic and the Isle of Mann. He then moved over to the entertainment and technology sector, heading up European market research at SEGA, and then managing consumer insights for Microsoft’s devices and services group across Europe, working on products such as Surface, Xbox and Office 365. In April 2018 he joined VisitEngland as Head of Research. He leads a team responsible for delivering a wide-ranging programme of consumer and business research and intelligence to inform the work of the organisation and the English tourism industry.
Managing Director, History Mystery Ltd
Alasdair is Managing Director of History Mystery, a company founded to create escape games with a difference; to provide a thrilling hour of entertainment whilst introducing new audiences to historic buildings and subjects. Their team of heritage experts and game designers find heritage locations, research their history, then devise enthralling game-play to tell their stories. Every game is a unique experience, historically accurate, lovingly hand-crafted, and chock full of fiendish puzzles that interpret heritage in a new way that brings fresh audiences and additional income to heritage sites.
Founder, DJ Willrich Ltd
David is the founder and owner of D J Willrich Ltd a UK based company. DJW has over 32 years experience in designing and installing Audio Visual, Lighting and Show Control systems for the Heritage and Themed Entertainment industry throughout the World.
Projects vary in size and scope from Museums to Theme Parks around the world. DJW have worked on national, government projects and for leading organisation in many countries. David also feels privileged to be the Immediate Past President of TEA, the Themed Entertainment Association.