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World Winners 2009

The 16th World Travel Awards Grand Final was held in London at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Novemeber 8th. So what does it take to be a world class brand and WTA winner? BTN investigates

Virgin Atlantic Airways, 25 Years Still Red Hot

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic was the clear winner of the World’s Leading Travel Commercial for its Virgin – 25 Years Still Red Hot advertisement. The £6m campaign, which launched in January, uses a mixture of 80’s nostalgia and iconic images of huge mobile phones and Rubik’s Cubes, a classic song (Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and some extremely glamorous cabin crew to mark the airline’s 25th anniversary of its first flight to Newark.

Tui Travel

Tui Travel secured two awards this year, the World’s Leading Tour Operator and the Reponsible Tourism Award.
The group is a consistently high performer in an extremely challenging environment and appeared to shrug off the economic downturn by posting an astonishing 57% increase in profits to £102m in the six months to June this year.
Europe’s largest travel group cited receding fears of swine flu, including a flurry of last-minute bookings to Mexico, contributing to figures that remain on target for the financial year ending 30 September.
The group has also been instrumental in the Tourism 2023 Campaign which pledges the travel industry to a sustainable future, and this year reaffirmed its pledge to create 500 new apprenticeship places for young people in 2010.
Tui has an established Apprenticeship programme, and has trained more than 3,500 apprentices in the last five years.



London has secured the World’s Leading Destination in this year’s awards. Visit London has been instrumental in ensuring that despite the tough economic conditions, the capital continued to attract visitors. The tourist board has been running a campaign across the key markets of the UK, Europe and North America, to highlight all the unique places, attractions and experiences that you can only find in London. Its aim has been to keep London front of mind and a must-visit destination for both domestic and international visitors.

Etihad First Class Cabin

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways has scooped the World’s Leading Airline Award for a number of reasons. The airline has continued to expand, invest and innovate despite the global recession.
At the start of this year chief executive James Hogan pledged to have a fleet of 50 aircraft by year end – Etihad will have 52 aircraft by December.
The airline also continues to add routes, setting a target of 55 by the end of 2009, which it has already surpassed. This year alone, it launched Chicago, Melbourne, Cape Town and Hyderabad.
The airline also invested heavily in a new premium lounge at its home airport in Abu Dhabi, and continues to open dedicated premium lounges including one at Heathrow’s Terminal 4.
Etihad also won the World’s Leading First Class for its new Diamond Class cabin, which it started rolling out across the fleet in August. The cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration, with each seat transforming into a 6ft flat bed, complete with adjustable headrest, footrest, lumbar support, inbuilt massage and 23-inch TV with a choice of more than 600 movies. The seat also turns into a private cabin, with a sliding screen door.
Diamond Class includes a dedicated limousine service, a premium lounge and on-board Food & Beverage Manager.

InterContinental Hotel Group

InterContinental Hotel Group secured the World’s Leading Hotel Brand. The world’s biggest hotel group counts seven brands – Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites – more than 180m stays per year, 630,000 rooms and more than 4,300 hotels in nearly 100 countries.
The group was praised particularly for its generous loyalty scheme, Priority Club Rewards, which has 42m members and is now the world’s largest.

Jumeirah Group

Jumeirah Group’s iconic landmark hotel, Burj al Arab has secured the World’s Leading Hotel for consistently pushing the luxury bar higher and higher. In 2009, the hotel took delivery of four bespoke Rolls Royce Phantoms, with hotel logo embroidered into the upholstered leather seats. The Rolls-Royce chauffeur service is just one of many luxury services, which include in-suite check in, a private reception desk on every floor and highly trained butlers.

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority secured the World’s Leading Tourist Board trophy for its key role in securing the Formula 1 Grand Prix, as well as a number of other high-profile achievements. This includes the introduction of a hotel and hotel apartments classification system which has led to a number of accommodation upgrades. The authority has also stepped up its training of tourist guides, introduced a number of new events, such as the Gourmet Abu Dhabi festival and expanded its marketing outreach with the opening of overseas offices in Italy and the opening of new visitor centres with additional facilities now being planned for Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Royal Jet Group

Royal Jet Group won World’s Leading Private Jet Charter. The company bucked worldwide trends and reported a 15% increase in VIP charter business during the summer period. It also revamped its VIP Terminal facilities ahead of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix and becoming the only private jet charter which has personal chefs on board.

RCCL’s new Oasis of the Sea

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has been awarded the World’s Leading Cruise Brand. The line has continued to invest through a tough year and will be launching the world’s biggest cruise ship, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas this month. The world’s second largest cruise line also won for innovation, in particular the success of Azamara, the informal luxury line which goes to off the beaten track destinations. RCCL also launched a family-friendly programme which allows kids to complete meals in the main dining room in 45 minutes and then be escorted back to the Adventure Ocean activity facilities whilst parents finish dinner.

Other winners…

The other winners are Sandals Resort International for the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company; American Express for the World’s Leading Business Travel Agency; Adam & Eve for the World’s Leading Design Hotel; India for its Incredible India campaign, which secured the World’s Leading Destination Marketing Campaign; Holland America for the World’s Leading Green Cruise Line; Tobago Main Ridge Rain Forest for World’s Leading Green Destination; and Adventures by Disney for World’s Leading Luxury Travel Operator.