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With a lifelong interest in trains, aircraft and ships—anything that moves, really!—Neil has been in the travel industry since leaving school. Having studied Travel and Tourism, his first job was actually in the freight sector, moving all manner of goods between the UK and Sierra Leone. However, moving “people” was really what interested him, so he joined the business travel division at Thomas Cook’s main London office. It was here that Neil found his niche, and for the next 20 years he looked after many prestigious business travel accounts.
Neil left Thomas Cook to set up Avocet Travel Management and the company has grown steadily over over the years, most recently gaining an ABTA licence, which has enabled Avocet to expand into the holiday sector. Neil continues to develop his skills and, with Avocet, can impart his enthusiasm for the industry to Avocet’s Travel Partners, which in turn is transmitted on to their clients. This is one area of the business that Neil really enjoys (actually there is not a lot he doesn’t enjoy!).
Asked about where he like to travel to, Neil responded, “Everywhere!” He has a keen interest in places in general and loves to go to different locations to experience the culture, sights and smells. For this reason he has no real favourite destination as everywhere has its good points—he likes to keep an open mind which in turns provides an unbiased overview for his clients.
Having been very fortunate in travelling the world he recalls many memorable moments, such as being taken by a taxi driver in Oman to see his house (and three toilets!) and then going to a local wedding. Oh, and of course, crossing the main road in Hanoi was an experience in itself—he has never seen so many motorcycles. (Quick lesson in crossing the road in Hanoi: don’t wait on the curb, walk out, raise an arm and wave—keep walking, no matter what. All the motorcycles go around you, but if you stop it’s at your own peril!)
Neil has been fortunate to eat in many high-class restaurants, but his favourite is an area of Hanoi called “pub corner”. You order your drinks, sit on tiny stools overlooking the road and then you see a man coming across the road with a tray. It may sound rough and ready but you will never taste such fresh, piping hot food as you do there!