Every December, for twenty-four years now, Viv and Nick Wrightman have been arranging and hosting the Alternative Travel Awards in London. The event, which raises money for various charities, was started in 1992 and was the brainchild of Nick who decided that many of the travel award ceremonies were merely sycophantic nods to the larger companies who had money to spend on advertising their own brands. The two biggest award nights were then run by TTG and Travel weekly, two travel publications who basically rely on advertising income for their revenue. Advertising that was invariably supplied by the winners of their awards.
So, the Alternative Awards was founded in 1992 with all proceeds going to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea where Nick was successfully treated for Testicular cancer. Awards like ‘Biggest Thief of the Year, ‘Dances like your Dad’, ‘Worst outfit of the evening’ and ‘Biggest Loser’ were more in keeping with the Alternative theme. The awards have become more risqué but have always meant to be fun as opposed to hurting anyone’s insecure feelings!
The night was intended to take a less flattering look at our travel industry and although only 160 attended the very first awards ceremony it soon grew to 700 plus attendees. It wasn’t uncommon for £40,000 to be raised during the course of the evening with all the attendees knowing that whilst mocking our own industry, we were still raising money for good causes.
However, the success of the Alternatives was soon making it not only a must attend event, but also a bit of a corporate do thereby defeating the very purpose it was intended not to be! So, in 2014 Nick and Viv decided to reduce the numbers to a maximum of 250 only, making it a smaller but much more informal and fun event where Nick could rip the industry apart without feeling that sponsors would be offended.
Last Thursday the 15th December, the latest of irreverent Alternative Travel Awards was held at the Royal Gardens Hotel in Kensington and not only did all the attendees have a thoroughly wonderful time laughing at themselves, but they also managed to raise just under £10,000 for the chosen charities. A big thank you to all who attended and who helped raise money for excellent causes.