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Interview with George Tyshchenko, Head of Sales & Marketing at Gill’s Cruise Centre

George Tyshchenko is Head of Sales & Marketing at national cruise specialist Gill’s Cruise Centre, which is head-quartered in Cardiff and has offices in London. George has always had links with the sea, having been brought up in the port of Cardiff, and he spent his early working life with the Merchant Navy as an officer with Cunard Line. He has worked in the world of travel, and specifically cruise travel for upwards of twenty five years now. What is it that you do exactly?
A typical day starts when I arrive promptly at my office based in pleasant surroundings on the outskirts of Cardiff, and settle down with a coffee, liaising with our Sales Division, Analysts and Web team to examine the previous day’s statistics– bookings, revenue, the number of incoming phone calls and web enquiries in response to our adverts. It’s the only way to start the day in order to keep my finger on the pulse. The next, equally important part of the day involves getting together with our enthusiastic commercial team to decide what key offers to include in upcoming national news adverts, direct mail & e-mail marketing. This is largely driven by daily communication with our cruise line partners, as they can provide up to date news on their activities within the cruise market, and advise of any offers & incentives that may be available to our clients. We work with all the major cruise lines – Cunard, P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Fred Olsen and MSC to name but a few. When selecting the cruises that feature in our advertisements, we usually look for a good range of itineraries, prices, cruise lengths and destinations so that we can provide the best possible choice for our cruise guests. Gill’s has been selling cruises for over 50 years and over that time we have built up a very loyal following – our regular guests look to us to provide the best possible deals and we work closely with our cruise partners to endeavour to keep one step ahead. That includes educational ship visits to experience the ‘product’ for myself – as a cruise specialist Gill’s prides itself on the excellent first-hand knowledge that our staff have of our cruise line partners and their ships. I am lucky enough to live on the outskirts of Cardiff, and after my working day is done, I love to run or cycle through the hills behind the city to let off steam for a couple of hours.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love my work – it is one fast rollercoaster juggling act, trying to maintain the best possible product mix for our clients. It can get quite intense, especially when it gets close to deadline time, but we’ve a great team here and I love the camaraderie. It’s great finding a good offer, working with our talented design team to discover the best & most attractive way of presenting it, and then seeing it go down really well with our customers – it makes my day!
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
When you say places, I am including ships in that description! Seaborne Legend: The Seaborne Legend is not a large ship, in fact she’s small and intimate, but the quality of the ship is outstanding. My time on board was a unique and memorable experience. We cruised to Lundy Island, Dublin, Guernsey & Rouen – but it wasn’t so much the itinerary that was special, although that and the company were very pleasant, but the surroundings were sheer, undiluted, unpretentious luxury. Oosterdam: I would describe my stay aboard Holland America’s cruise ship Ouisterdam as ‘luxury on a large scale’. She has the facilities of a large liner and we enjoyed excellent service to match. We cruised up Mexico’s Pacific Coast, visiting places such as Cabo san Lucas, Mazatlan and San Diego. Cape Town is my third choice. I have visited Cape Town many times and I would rank it as one of the most stunning places I have visited for its spectacular scenery and the fact that everything is very high quality. It’s a very upmarket city and the seafood restaurants are amazing – and incredible value for money.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
The Queen’s Grille dining room on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – I was privileged enough to take a mini cruise aboard this iconic vessel. I appreciate good food and this was one of the most exquisite dining experiences I have had. I found the whole experience outstanding, from the understated elegance of the dining room and the fine quality of the china and glassware to the incredibly high level of service – she is in a league of her own. It is no surprise that Queen’s Grille dining has been voted one of the top restaurant experiences in the world. One funny-memorable dining experience for all the wrong reasons is when I collected a take-away from my local Indian restaurant – I was walking out of the restaurant, twiddling my car keys absent-mindedly on one finger, when they span off, flew across the room, and landed in someone’s curry. I made an apologetic exit!
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
I was quite star-struck when I encountered esteemed actor Robert Powell and his beautiful wife Babs of Pans People fame aboard Cunard’s new Queen Elizabeth – I’m not sure who made the greater impression on me! I was also privileged enough to meet the Royal Ballet’s very elegant Principal Ballerina, Darcy Bussell, aboard P&O Cruises’ Azura when she came to name the vessel.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
You may have gathered that my life has something of a food theme going on – I would absolutely love to go back to Mexico to experience a lot more of their fascinating dishes. I would also be fascinated to experience the Northern Lights, and I have long fancied a trip to the beautiful Galapagos islands. Of course, one of the hazards of working for a cruise specialist is that we get to see wonderful images of far flung places every single day and I never get de-sensitised to them – it would be great to have Dr Who’s skills to be able to transport myself instantly to wherever tales my fancy!
Thank you for taking part in our interview, George. Having experienced the Northern Lights in Greenland myself, it’s something I’d high recommend! If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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