Tran Trong Kien, Chairman
Tran Trong Kien has been known as a pioneer in many adventure tours in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He ran local tours to fund his medical studies before establishing his own tour operator in 1994. Over the past 25 years of establishment and development, Kien has lead his business to become Thien Minh Group – one of the biggest travel and hospitality groups in the region. Kien is also current chairman of Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), Hue Tourism Advisory Board (HTAB), Vietnam Tour Guides Association (VTGA), trustee of Fulbright University Vietnam, Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA), board member of Vietnam Institute of Directors (VIOD), member of the Private Sector Development Research Board (IV Board) of the Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform and ex-member of Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), VP Bank and Vinaland.
Sandra Leach, Director & Founder
Company founder and Director Sandra established SLC at the end of 2002 following a successful 20-year career at Austravel that spanned the UK, Germany and USA. Sandra dreamt of a results-focussed representation agency. Bringing her unrivalled contacts, exceptional sales and marketing knowledge and an unwavering passion for travel to the table, Sandra set about building a strong, sharp and enthusiastic team who could deliver just that.
“One of the best trips of my life was to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2010. Cycling around Mai Chau was a highlight – I fell off into the rice field about 30 seconds later… I also spent a wonderful afternoon riding around some of the quieter temples of Angkor Wat – I didn’t fall off. From the age of about 8 I wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro – I finally made it in 2018 and it didn’t disappoint.”
Image: Sandra discovering Angkor Wat on horseback
Gill Davies, Development Director
Gill joined SLC after starting her travel career at Flight Centre, where she sold worldwide travel and managed the opening of a new store in the heart of Camden. Managing the launch of SLC into Asia shortly after joining, Gill has been instrumental in SLC’s expansion over the last decade and became a shareholder of the business in 2012. Today she oversees our new business development as part of SLC’s senior leadership team. With a BA in Music from Cambridge University, Gill still has a love of classical music, and is most likely to be spotted on Saturdays at the Hove seafront park run having recently discovered a passion for running.
“It was a charity hitchhike to Morocco when I was 20 that first gave me a love of travel. Our 10 day adventure through France and Spain saw us spending a night in a Chateau in the Pyrenees, a day on the beach near Bilbao, and endless hours spend patiently at the side of the road waiting for our next ride! I’ll never forget the generosity of the people who helped us to make that journey.”
Image: Gill at the Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Chris Farwell, Director
Chris began his career in finance with PwC in Canada and Australia where he became a Canadian CPA, CA. He was previously the CFO for Buffalo Tours and is now the Managing Director for Vamos Tours. He recently joined the board as representative of SLC’s majority shareholder TMG Europe.
“I got into travel as I’ve always loved travelling and what was shared with me in my travels so I wanted to share that with the rest of the world!”
Image: Chris & Mel at Niagara Falls
Adam Caerlewy-Smith, Managing Director
Adam is a travel and tourism marketing specialist with 15 years’ experience in strategy, brand and digital, both agency and client-side. He joins SLC from Visit Jersey, where he led a marketing team that turned over 20 years of declining visitors into four years of consecutive growth. As Managing Director of SLC, he leads on strategy and client relationships.
“I like visiting new places and being healthy and active when I travel, so anywhere with good hiking and surfing. I loved California as it was easy to be healthy, with great food, spectacular hiking in Yosemite and lots of different places to surf around Santa Barbara.”
Image: Adam hiking in Yosemite.
Kate Sorensen, General Manager, Sydney
Joining SLC as General Manager for newly opened Australian office, Kate is an energised, experienced leader with over 20 years’ in the tourism and hotel industry. Three of these years were spent with IHG as Director of Global Sales Australasia and Director of Commercial Projects where she championed innovative, successful projects to enhance business results as well as managing commercial aspects of new hotels opening in Australasia and Japan. Prior to joining IHG, Kate launched her career with a high-profile role with Australia’s number 1 island holiday destination, Hamilton Island. Of her 8.5-year tenure, 1.5 were spent in London successfully launching their luxury resort ‘qualia’ to the international market. Kate deepened her niche as a tourism specialist with experience across Australian hotel chain Mantra Group as Director of International Sales, and another four years running her own boutique tourism Sales & Marketing representation agency. Outside of work, Kate loves to travel with her young family, chipping away at a never-ending bucket list. Next year they are planning their third ski trip to Japan and then hope to make some time for a beach holiday, an adventure through Sri Lanka and hopefully a trip to Europe.
“At the age of 18, I went on a year-long student exchange program to Japan. Initially, it was a huge shock being so far away from home and trying to adapt to a new language, culture and new way of living. However, it was this year in Japan that opened my mind to different cultures, countries and cuisines. Living with host families and attending an all-girls high school in Kyushu allowed me to fully immerse myself and I was lucky to be able to do several trips around the country to see the sites. Now 20+ years on I love taking my children back for holidays, we love to ski there and see the sites and we love the challenge of communicating, deciphering menus and finding our way around. I tell the kids Japan is like a big library and they need to be more quiet and respectful over there. It works a treat!“
Matt McCausland, Account Director
Matt joined SLC after 17 years with STA Travel in the UK. During his time with STA, he initially headed up the Contact Centre before moving into Learning & Development. In L&D he took on a variety of roles including overseeing a robust Induction programme for all new starters & developing a Management Development Programme as well as delivering training around Presentation Skills, Coaching & Development, Overcoming Barriers to the Sale, Rapport Building & Customer Rapport. Matt then moved into Wholesale & worked with a number of clients, principally in Europe, Asia, South America & the Middle East, to distribute STA Land & Air product globally. Matt has come on board at SLC as Account Director & is really excited to focus on our client engagement & explore how we can further grow our service proposition. He is passionate about travel and is often to be found planning next year’s Summer holiday. Matt enjoys going to galleries, concerts and theatres in his spare time but his young kids are more likely to ensure he’s located in a playground at the weekend.
“I think people who work in travel can sometimes get jaded and lose sight of what drove many of us to join the industry in the first place. It’s really easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of lead in process, flight capacity, price matching, etc, etc and forget that we work with a really exciting product that is a constant daily source of inspiration for millions of people around the world on any given day. Some of those experiences that have really stuck with me are: my 19-year-old self as a Camp Counsellor for Camp America in rural Pennsylvania, chatting to farmers at the local bar who would bring their pigs in with them…an overnight train from Jaipur to Delhi chatting to our fellow commuters and being awoken with chai tea as dawn broke over the craziness of Delhi’s Old Town…drinking Caipirinhas on Ipanema Beach watching the sunset behind Christ the Redeemer…The sights, sounds, tastes and colours are what inspires me every day to see more of the world.”
Laoise Collins, PR Account Director
Prior to SLC, Laoise worked as an Account Manager at a specialist travel PR and representation agency, managing high profile accounts including the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Korean Air, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Best Western Great Britain and Neilson. As PR Accounts Director, Laoise has responsibility for SLC’s PR accounts overseeing client campaigns from idea to implementation and delivery. When she isn’t meeting journalists or researching the latest travel trends, Laoise is likely to be on her epic quest to find the best coffee in London or flogging vintage dresses in Hackney.
“It’s a bit of a cliché, but the reason I love travelling is that it gives perspective. Experiencing new places, people and cultures challenge your outlook and that’s always a good thing! One of my best travel memories is skidooing on the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland, standing in the middle of Europe’s largest glacier certainly put things in perspective!’”
Image: Laoise on the Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland
Elen Thomas, UK Market Manager
Elen’s career spans 10 years working both in-house and in agency PR roles, managing broadcast and digital campaigns for clients, before moving into her current UK Market Manager role for Tourism Western Australia. Some of Elen’s earliest memories are of travel, but it wasn’t until Australia bowled her over at 22, that she had her first taste of working in travel and loved how impassioned and everchanging the industry is.
“Some of my earliest memories are of travel, fireflies dancing through the night on Greek Islands and walks through towering landscapes in Scotland. It wasn’t until Australia bowled me over at 22, that I had my first taste of working in travel. Getting to know the stories, structures and people behind these incredible experiences on offer magnified my fascination. I love how impassioned the industry is and that it is always evolving“
Image: Elen swimming with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Kate Bifield, Marketing Manager
Kate brings over a decade of marketing and communications experience which was gained across the media, banking, government and tourism industries. She first joined SLC in 2017 on a short term contract to run the Tourism Western Australia account, she rejoined in 2019 to oversee new business marketing plans and proposals. Kate’s addiction to travel has led her to almost 100 countries, when she’s not collecting passport stamps she’s trying her hand at home renovation.
Image: Kate in the Dead Sea
Rob Edmunds, Senior Business Development Manager
Rob started his travel career at the student/youth specialists STA Travel as a Travel Agent and later progressed to Assistant Manager at the flagship store in London Victoria. From here, Rob advanced into a successful 3-year tenure with adventure tour operator Bamba Experience, managing the UK & European trade accounts before joining SLC reputation. Within SLC, Rob manages our Vietnamese client TMG Hospitality – an expert in hospitality management in Southeast Asia with a portfolio of eleven hotels & resorts, cruises and premium transportation options. Through experience working from front line consumer-facing to B2B relations, Rob brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for connecting people through travel through business and leisure. When he’s not in the office, Rob likes to take to saddle and cycle to new places, hiking with friends, eating/cooking Asian cuisines and following national service, supporting the Welsh international rugby team at any opportunity!
“To get that sense of achievement and be able to say I trekked at high altitude in Peru with the best reason…it was all to gain experience for work! Whilst the lack of oxygen was tough, I now want to do more, see more and travel all over the world!”
Image: Rob on Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Tuy Le, Business Development Manager Asia
Tuy, known as Tina, joined SLC from a business development role in Vietnam, and was SLC’s first international employee. With great experience of the Asian market, a passion for helping customers see things they have never seen before and excellent relationship-building skills, Tina is perfectly placed to assist with our expansion in this growing market. Outside of work, Tina loves to be a tourist in her home country, and travelled to Europe for the first time this year.
“The trip to Tra Su Bird Sanctuary in An Giang Province and Dong Thap Province where is a part of Mekong Delta area which reminds me that even I’m living in Vietnam for a long time but still have a lots of new destinations in my country that I’m not experience yet. What a beautiful nature & local life can immerse myself in the diverse culture of every single destination here. There is a lot of thing that I should try and I promise to myself that I will go for new experience & share it to everyone as much as I can”
Maria Popova, Account Manager
Maria joined SLC after graduating with a Tourism and Events Management degree from the University of Westminster. Throughout her years in the company, Maria has been involved in looking after a variety of projects and clients here for PATA and SLC’s Australian client portfolio. Today Maria manages the Onyx Hospitality Group account as well as Creative Travel and she also oversees a small team of employees focused on clients from Asia, Indonesia, Middle East and USA. Apart from travelling, Maria also has a passion for photography and in her spare time she likes to explore new places in and outside of London where she can practice her hobby.
“I grew up in a city in Bulgaria which was not popular for tourist visits from other countries. I was 14 years old when I first met people from another country who spoke a different language. My interest in learning new languages and different cultures around the world quickly grew and soon I became part of a Youth Development Centre where I was assisting with and taking part in various exchange programmes. I continued to develop my passion for travel through university in England with my Tourism and Events Management Degree and later work in the travel industry.”
Image: Maria in Sri Lanka
Abbie Downes, Account Manager
Abbie started SLC in 2015 for her placement year as part of her degree in Tourism Management at University of Surrey. After graduating with a 1st Class Honors degree in 2017 she joined Trailfinders in the European Sales department in Kensington. In January 2018 Abbie returned back to SLC looking after the Australia and PATA accounts, also helping on the Tourism Western Australia Roadshow. Abbie now manages the Australia, New Zealand and Europe clients at SLC. Outside of work Abbie enjoys going to the theatre, catching up with friends and exploring new places whether that’s the latest London rooftop bar or a new European city!
“My inspiration to work in travel started when I went on holiday with my family to Florida. I had just finished my GCSEs in travel and tourism when I realised I had the travel bug and the passion to study it further and travel to new and exciting places.”
Image: Abbie exploring the Ancient city of Pompeii in Italy
Chris Etheridge, Senior Account Executive
Chris joined SLC after working for two major Tour Operators specialising in USA, Canada, Cruise and the Far East regions. Today, he oversees our hotel and tourist board clients in Asia, California and the Middle East. Chris spends his weekends finding the best brunch spots around London or heading back to his family home in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
“Travel for me is all about making new memories, building friendships and exploring new destinations. Whether you like soaking up the sun on the gorgeous Railay Beach, flying 3,ooo feet above Cappadocia in a hot Air Balloon, or hiking on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, travel is hugely personal to each of us. Making peoples dreams into a reality is why I joined the industry back in 2014.”
Image: Chris in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Joanne Lefevre, Project Manager
Jo has been working at SLC since 2009. During Jo’s year backpacking in Australia, followed by 2 months in Asia, she knew she had to make travel her day job! Having lived and breathed travel for many years Jo now spends more time dreaming about exotic getaways whilst chasing after two young daughters.
“I was inspired to work in travel after spending a year backpacking all around Australia on a work visa followed by 2 months backpacking in South East Asia. Once I returned home I knew I had to make travel my day job! “
Image: Jo on the beach in the Maldives
Anna Davies, Account Executive
Anna recently graduated with a degree in Business with Industrial Experience from Manchester Metropolitan University. She is passionate about the travel industry and has always loved travelling from a young age going, on her first trip abroad at six weeks old to New York. Her first solo trip was aged 19 to Tasmania, Melbourne and Singapore where she was amazed at the diversity and beauty of the countries. In my spare time, she does pole fitness to improve her core strength and enjoys spending time with friends and being creative with art or photography.
“It’s really hard to choose just one travel inspiration story as I’ve had so many amazing experiences from kayaking around Halong Bay, taking a helicopter ride over the Great Ocean Road to exploring Angkor Wat after watching the sunrise over the reflecting pool. My first solo trip blew me away, I went to Tasmania, Melbourne and Singapore and it was just amazing, it offered so much variety and gave me so much confidence that I could do anything I put my mind to. I just remember watching the sunset on the beach on the Great Ocean Road and knowing that I needed to see more of the world particularly the natural beauty!”
Image: The Golden Circle in Iceland with the geyser Strokkur
Kim Brown, Account Executive
Kim joined SLC in 2016 as a placement student from the University of Surrey. Upon completing her Tourism Management degree, she re-joined SLC with the responsibility of organising and running events on behalf of the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Today she manages our portfolio of Asia hotels across Thailand, Indonesia and Nepal. In her spare time Kim plays stoolball in the Surrey league and competes at county level in the sport, having previously captained the Under 21 Surrey and England team.
“With an ever-growing bucket list of destinations I’ve dreamt of visiting, and the desire to find out what all the hype was behind travelling up the East Coast of Australia, I jumped on the next flight out of London to explore some of the many natural wonders of Australia, including Fraser Island, The Great Barrier Reef and The Blue Mountains. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed!”
Image: Kim in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Lea Vitezic, PR Account Executive
Lea joined SLC shortly after completing an MA in Media and Communications, and before that she graduated with First Class Honours in Journalism. While she studied, she conducted several media internships and also wrote for magazines and blogs about various topics, including travelling stories. In her role as PR Executive, Lea combines her two biggest passions – travelling and media. Lea developed an instinct for a good story through her previous journalism experiences which makes her an asset for SLC’s PR team. In her spare time, Lea is either travelling, spending time in her home country Croatia, or she can be spotted at an art gallery.
“Travelling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer – is my all-time favourite quote and something I tend to live by. Travelling enriched me in so many ways, taught me different things and helped me grow. Every place I visited so far left a long-lasting impression, and my desire to explore the world eventually lead me to settle abroad. My love for travelling started early, I remember as a child before I started to travel myself how impressed I was by my grandfather’s stories about his adventures across the Pacific. To work in travel inspires me to a great extent, and I know I will always feel motivated in the industry I am so passionate about. “
Image: Lea at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo
Emma Dalzell, Trade Marketing Executive UK
Emma is a creative-minded marketing professional with a diverse range of experience across tourism and advertising. In her previous role at Tangalooma Island Resort Emma worked on tourism campaigns with Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines and coordinated partnership opportunities with Australian TV programs Sunrise, Today Show, Blind Date, Totally Wild and The Great Day Out. Emma currently manages Tourism Western Australia as the Trade Marketing Executive for UK. She has a huge passion for travel and has visited over 24 countries across the world with many more destinations on her bucket list. In addition to her love of travel, Emma loves cats, practicing yoga and listening to podcasts.
“Visiting places like Bali and Moreton Island, Australia, allow you to immerse yourself in nature and see wild animals in their natural habitat. Experiencing pristine natural beauty and up-close animal encounters are some of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. I was inspired to learn about other cultures, visit stunning natural wonders and meet new and interesting people. Working in tourism has allowed me to engage in a community of like-minded travel lovers and create amazing memories.”
Image: Emma in Nusa Cenigan, Bali, Indonesia
Sharon Anderson, Trade & Events Executive
Sharon has joined SLC after recently moving to London from New Zealand. In 2017 she completed her Bachelors of Tourism Management with an Event Management specialisation and since then has managed events for universities, as well as community events such as Arts Festivals and Outdoor Cinema pop-ups. Sharon has also had a taste of the Tourism Industry working front line sales for Tourism Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. At SLC, Sharon’s key client is PATA where she looks after the day to day running and their events programme. She also supports Abbie with the Australia and New Zealand clients. In her spare time you will find her ticking off her bucket list items as she explores this side of the world!
“I was inspired to step out of my comfort zone and visit a destination that was commonly seen as unsafe. During my time in Egypt, I saw amazing structures and learnt about the country’s rich history – all whilst feeling super safe despite what is depicted through the media. This trip has inspired me to encourage others to take the leap and travel to those bucket list destinations.”
Image: Sharon in Cairo
Emily Waters, Sales Coordinator
Emily is currently on her placement year from Bournemouth University, studying Tourism Management. As the sales coordinator, Emily’s role involves helping out the Account Executives with many of their clients’ needs, including competitor analysis and composing the monthly newsletter, to events organising with PATA.
With a passion for travel, Emily spent her gap year travelling Australia before starting her university experience. This only made her interest in the industry grow. Having been brought up in Brighton and working as a hospitality supervisor means she has experience in customer service within the industry. In her spare time, Emily enjoys going to the gym and socialising with her friends and family.
“With a passion for travelling, I spent my gap year in Australia before starting my university experience. This only made my interest in the industry grow.”
Image: Emily at Manly Beach, Australia
Ha Dinh, Accountant
Working for 4 years as an accountant in Hanoi, Vietnam, Ha came to the United Kingdom to complete her MSc of Accounting at the University of Hudderfield before joining SLC Representation as an accountant. Ha loves exploring new cities within England, going to places such as London, Oxford, Liverpool and loads more!
“Local experiences, new culture exploring and enjoying the beauty of nature inspire me to travel. If possible, doing something off the beaten track would be great for my trip ”
Image: Ha in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, London
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