UCLan graduate named best entrepreneur at travel industry awards
A UCLan graduate was named the best entrepreneur last month in a travel industry award.
James Cole, honorary member of UCLan and former student of Runshaw College in Leyland, received the John Hays Award for Entrepreneur of the Year at the Travel Trade Gazette (TTG) new Travel Industry Awards on September 30.
James, founder and managing director of Lancashire-based Panache Cruises, is the first recipient of the trophy and has been seen receiving the award by over 1,000 senior industry executives.
He launched Panache Cruises in July 2020 after using the first containment to develop a business plan. In its first year of operation, the company generated over £ 3million, despite an international travel ban in place.
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Its ambition is for Panache Cruises to become the UK’s leading luxury cruise retailer by 2027.
Cole said, “After being in the industry for the past 23 years accepting this award has been one of the greatest moments of my life and something that I will always cherish.
“The launch of Panache Cruises has always been focused on the long term, not just short-term business terms. The market is now back and I am building a strong, responsive and loyal clientele. The Panache team has been truly exemplary.
“It has been a difficult but rewarding 18 months, and I feel truly privileged and honored to have received this very prestigious award in memory of one of the greatest and most respected businessmen in British industry. travel.
“My sincere thanks go to TTG, Dame Irene Hays and the entire Hays family for choosing me to receive this very special award.”
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The category was introduced as a tribute to John Hays, founder of Hays Travel, who passed away in 2020. It recognizes the entrepreneurial spirit of an exceptional business leader who turned the travel industry upside down.
John’s wife Dame Irene Hays and daughter Helen Hays joined TTG’s core editorial team to judge the submissions and choose a winner.
The judges said: “It was a very competitive category, with many strong entries, but James’s entrepreneurial flair and laser focus was exceptional.
“His new business idea, which against all odds was launched at the height of the pandemic, has already established a fantastic basis for future discussions. “
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The Travel Industry Awards by TTG took place at Magazine London next to the O2 Arena, co-hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly of Strictly Come Dancing.
TTG Editor-in-Chief Sophie Griffiths added: “The awards recognize travel agencies and professionals who put customers at the heart of their business, who most deserve the trust of consumers and who have responded to the challenges of the 12 months by making positive changes to their products, services and corporate cultures.
“With a robust jury process, the Travel Industry Awards by TTG are the toughest to win in the travel industry, and any company that wins a trophy that night can be incredibly proud of their achievement.”
Panache Cruises recently moved into its new business premises, based at Strawberry Fields Digital Hub in Chorley.
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