Each issue we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time: Den Ashby, member engagement manager
I joined ABTA as a fresh-faced 25-year-old in 1988, when I was employed to set up a team to deal with the increasing amounts of calls the Association was receiving from members, the public, outside bodies and students, all of whom were looking for expert assistance or advice.
Some 32 years later and I still loving talking to members. Other enquiries have moved to other teams as we have grown, but my priority remains our Members, offering them help and assistance wherever I can.
The role has changed over the years and has always offered a wide range of challenges. Ours is an ever-changing industry, it is part of what makes it so rewarding and interesting, but it also means that members both old and new often need our help and assistance.
Modern technology offers so many new ways to engage with our members and I have developed, with expert input from other ABTA staff, a full social media presence on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and of course Facebook. The ABTA Member Community group on Facebook allows me to develop new exclusive and innovative content, keeping members up to date with what is going on. Direct contact takes place in Park Street or at regional meetings and, of course, there is phone and email and increasingly in the current environment, virtual platforms too.
One of my main roles is to deliver a programme of Member Engagement activities, reminding members of the wide range of benefits available to them. Members are not always fully aware of these, so it is my job to bring them to all members’ attention.In these difficult times many members are feeling vulnerable and need reassurance that their Association is there for them and behind them. I think that fostering direct relationships is a vital part of providing that support and reassurance.
I also manage ABTA’s dealings with the Council of Regions Committee. For those who do not know the Committee, we split the country into 11 regions, and each has its own chairperson and committee, who are our eyes and ears throughout the UK. We meet up three times a year in Park Street for industry updates and to share members’ concerns and thoughts.
I manage two sets of regional meetings, running in the spring and in the autumn. Various members of the ABTA Team, including myself, will travel around the country to present, alongside the COR chair to members and partners. The meetings help to keep everybody on top of the latest key industry developments, policy updates and industry trends. They are also a great opportunity to socialise and develop useful business contacts.
Of course, at present, meeting up in person is not advisable, so we will be holding Virtual Business Regional Meetings via Zoom. It will be a challenge for an old fella like me, but it’s one I am looking forward to.
Most years I get the opportunity to represent ABTA overseas at various conferences and conventions, and domestically at travel shows around the country, some of these are run by ABTA members themselves. Spending time with members is a vital part of the job, they appreciate us coming out and being there.
I look forward once we can get out again, to seeing you all.