Wednesday 15 February 2017 – TravelManagers' Victoria based personal travel manager Derek Harwood, representative for Forest Hill won the Home Based/Mobile Agent of the Year – Australia award at the annual 2017 CLIA Awards held at Star Event Centre on Saturday 11 February in Sydney.
Harwood a self-confessed cruise-a-holic, was surprised to be nominated as a finalist, and completely humbled by his award win.
“I am grateful to have worked with some inspiring people in travel over the last 17 years and certainly my last nine years in the cruise industry has been my most rewarding. My greatest reward is planning a great cruising holiday for my clients and being able to work in an industry that I love. It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be recognised by the CLIA members in this way. Winning this award really is the icing on the cake for me.”
TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager Michael Gazal was quick to congratulate Harwood on his achievements.
“Everyone at TravelManagers is absolutely thrilled that Derek has been recognized as Australia’s CLIA top selling home based agent of the year. It’s easy to see his genuine passion and commitment to the cruising industry and to his clients. Derek certainly delivers on the TravelManagers’ promise of providing expert advice with exceptional and consistent customer service. It is this attention to detail that sets him apart from the rest of the industry.”
Harwood pays tribute to TravelManagers and his colleagues including personal travel manager Carl Retschlag, representative for West Perth also a finalist in the Home Based/Mobile Agent of the Year category.
“TravelManagers has given me the freedom to run my business the way I want. To be available for my clients, to attend functions and most importantly a great network of colleagues has allowed me take advantage of cruise holidays and famils as they become available. Congratulations to all the other finalists, in particular my colleague Carl who is as passionate about cruising as I am.”
Gazal sees Harwood’s win and Retschlag’s finalist nomination as further demonstrating TravelManagers growing dominance and commitment to cruise as a specialist travel market.
“Our recent years’ excellent growth in cruise sales show the significant contribution our personal travel managers make to the cruise sector. We consistently look at ways to further promote the value of cruising and develop strategies and techniques in converting cruise enquiries. With our cruise awards continuing to grow, our decision to appoint a dedicated Cruise Strategy Executive in early 2016 to maximize sales and to enhance the current specialist cruise support for our personal travel manager network is the right one.”
Cruising is a passion for the entire Harwood family.
“I have personally done 18 cruises and many more ship inspections. My family is a great motivator for me, it is beautiful to see my two boys be inspired to learn about and want to travel the world as we are. We have been fortunate to travel on some beautiful ships not just on famils but also with my family. We all love to cruise!”
Harwood offers some advice for cruising enthusiasts.
“Choose your target market, you don’t need to be everything to everyone, and cater all your education, experience and marketing into growing your market. Cruising is a great product to sell; ship inspections and training programs that the cruise lines provide give you invaluable information and allow you to provide accurate and up-to-date information to your clients. Take all opportunities to meet with cruise reps and attend industry functions. The CLIA training, in particular the Master Accredited course gave a strong direction for my business and of course cruising yourself is the best way to build your knowledge.”
Harwood is continually inspired by the cruising industry and sees 2017 as no exception.
“Cruising within Australia has had huge growth over the last decade. It is ever changing; I am inspired by the new destinations, itineraries and beautiful products that are released every year. It has been a very exciting sector to be involved in, there is always something new to learn and I look forward to another exciting year ahead”. ENDS