GTL Sessions: tour managers and service providers unite in Mykonos

TPi launches a brand new event designed to bridge the gap between tour managers and service providers, presenting attendees with an exclusive networking experience unlike any other...

It was a surreal experience speaking to our esteemed guests in a welcome speech during the inaugural GTL Sessions on the balcony of The Royal Myconian Hotel in Mykonos, Greece. As the sun set on day one, I recalled the origin story of the event, which began in the far less spectacular surroundings of a Pizza Express in Manchester. Between slices, Fran Begaj, Alice Clarke and I plotted a brand-new event – one the likes of which had never been seen in the live events sector. 

For years, countless companies have attend the TPi Awards with the main goal of connecting with tour managers – not an easy task when you’re trying to meet people within an audience of over 1,700. The companies in question came from a wide variety of backgrounds, from those that provide private transport to insurance. While they’re more peripheral suppliers than, say, audio, lighting or video rental houses, they still play an integral part of any touring machine. The question was, how do we connect these two camps of suppliers and tour manager? Thus, the concept of GTL Sessions started to take form.

Some 18 months later, TPi and a cohort of specially selected attendees descended on the island of Mykonos for three packed days of networking, relationship building and information sharing.

The main two days of the event took the form of a mixture of 10-minute meetings between tour managers and suppliers, which were broken up by talks covering a range of subjects from the importance of mental health in the events industry to the new world of ‘virtual concerts’ such as ABBA Voyage and KISS’ transformation into avatars.

The meetings – dubbed Speed+Sync sessions – were set up in advance, with suppliers getting to select the TMs they were particularly interested in connecting with during the event. The meetings took place not in a stuffy windowless hall but on the upper floor of The Royal Myconian, offering stunning views over the cove.

Away from the scheduled meetings and talks, all attendees were given the late afternoon off to enjoy the facilities within the hotel or to continue their conversations from the day by the pool. Then each evening all guests gathered to break bread and, in the case of one evening, several plates – we were in Greece after all.

As for as the tour managers, the goal was to bring a wide selection of those within the industry – from TMs looking after stadium- and arena-level headliners to those representing more niche, up-and-coming artists. This led to a great spread of opinions from all areas of the industry. As was commented by more than a few tour managers throughout the duration of GTL, this must have been one of the largest gatherings of TMs in one place at one time where they were free to talk to one another.

“This has been my favourite ‘industry event’ ever,” stated Ade Bullock, Tour Manager for The Smile and Radiohead. “It was intense but focussed and people had plenty of time to get to know one another.” One of the more up-and-coming TMs in attendance was Samantha Simm (Everything Everything). “I wasn’t sure if I was in a place in my career where the top hoteliers and vendors would take me seriously, but I was very happy with the results of this trip. My confidence has been boosted massively and I’ve mingled with some fantastic people.”

The goal from the supplier’s standpoint was also to have a wide variety of companies represented at the event; from hoteliers, travel agents and insurance brokers to those offering specific products to tour managers.

One such company in this latter section was and its founder, Roeland Veugelen, who also featured in one of the Symposia sessions during the week. “The inaugural GTL Sessions exceeded my expectations,” stated Veugelen. “It provided valuable insights and numerous networking opportunities with relevant tour managers. The organisation was seamless, and the sessions on tour life, mental health, and education were particularly engaging. It was a fantastic event, and I look forward to maintaining the connections made and participating again.”

The Symposia sessions kicked off with a presentation by 2024s TPi Industry Recognition Award winner, Tamsin Embleton, who shared her recent work researching the issues of mental health within the live events Industry, all of which is well-documented in her book Touring and Mental Health: The Music Industry Manual.

GTL Sessions also welcomed Kyoto’s Glen Rowe to the stage to discuss education pathways within the sector and what those in attendance might be able to do to aid those looking to break into industry. During this session, AJ Sutherland shared his thoughts, highlighting the work of 3T and WILM along with Alice James who, among many hats, lectures at BIMM Institute London. Rock-it Cargo’s Chris Palmer closed out the first day’s talks, with an engaging panel on freighting for some of the world’s biggest artists.

On day two, Paul Jones reviewed key insights from LIVE’s much anticipated Freelancers Survey. Amid this impassioned talk, Jones detailed the realities and pressure points associated with life as a freelancer in the live events sector, backed up by data. He closed by suggesting solutions – from improving working conditions to diversity within the field.

In the afternoon session, GTL Sessions welcomed Steev Tooth – KISS’ Tour Manager, and Stu Phillips, Tour Manager for The Warning and owner of House of Tours Global to the stage. The duo shared their experience and involvement in transporting live events into a digital realm. From the legendary glam rockers’ transformation into avatars to Phillips’ company offering virtual studio solutions, it was certainly an interesting discussion.

Finally, Tour Manager, Roeland Veugelen of, closed out the sessions, previewing some of the changing aspects of the tour management role, and sharing how his platform caters to the requirements of end users.

“Launching a brand-new event is never a simple task, and although we had every faith in the concept, it’s safe to say that the end result far more than exceeded our expectations,” TPi Editor, Stew Hume commented. “In a world of endless email threads and scheduled Microsoft Teams calls, GTL Sessions underlined the importance of face-to-face interactions and in-person networking.”

GTL Sessions will return in 2025. Visit: to register your interest.

Words: Stew Hume

Photos and video: James Robertson