One of the most appealing aspects of choosing to work as a home-based travel agent is the freedom and flexibility to work wherever and whenever you choose. With a network of more than 530 personal travel managers (PTMs) in locations throughout Australia from Mackay to Mount Gambier; Busselton to Bendigo, adequate support in marketing, systems, product knowledge and business development is vital.
For TravelManagers, this responsibility belongs to the state-based Business Partnership Managers (BPMs): a team of seven who are described by Executive General Manager Michael Gazal as the company’s resident “angels”.
“Nowhere in Australia is too remote for a PTM to run their business, comfortable in the knowledge that they will receive personal support from their BPM,” Gazal says. “Our BPMs regularly undertake trips throughout regional Australia, meeting with their PTMs to review business activity, local sales trends, supplier support levels and operational matters.”
Gazal says many of these visits are run as cluster meetings, bringing together PTMs from far-flung locations to ensure that whenever possible they enjoy from the same practical and social benefits as their metropolitan counterparts.
“Our PTMs value the opportunity to swap knowledge and experiences, tell stories and pick each other’s brains for tips on improving different aspects of their businesses,” he explains, offering a recent gathering held in Millthorpe, NSW, as an example of the high regard in which these meetings are held.
“Millthorpe is a little town of 1,109 people, located between Orange and Blayney in New South Wales. We had PTMs attend from as far away as Wagga Wagga, close to 300 kilometres or a four-hour drive in each direction: that’s a pretty strong endorsement.”
Three representatives from the National Partnership Office (NPO) in Sydney also made the three-hour drive from Sydney, including Suzanne Laister, National Partnership Manager, who had also attended a similar meeting in Albury, NSW, the week before, along with PTMs from up to a hundred kilometres away. In both cases, the meetings were held to personally brief PTMs who had been unable to attend the most recent state meeting, combining an operational update with an informal lunch.
Trina Rynehart, who is representative for Wagga Wagga NSW, attended the Millthorpe meeting and says she and her colleagues are happy to make the journey on a regular basis, not just to benefit from the training sessions but for the camaraderie, sense of belonging and culture of mutual help and respect that she says permeates the entire TravelManagers culture.
“We have a lot of fun when we get together,” Rynehart says. “The meetings ensure that we stay well-connected with our colleagues, that we maintain open communication with each other and with the NPO, and it’s reassuring to know that we can expect the same support as if we were just around the corner in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.”
Gazal says the BPMs operate to a programme that sees them regularly undertake similar meetings around the country, in locations from as diverse as Toowoomba in Queensland and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
“These meetings really demonstrate the lengths to which our BPMs go to create a sense of belonging and a culture of respect for the value that each PTM delivers to our organisation, regardless of the remoteness of their location,” Gazal explains.
Travel Managers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.6 billion for 2018. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 530 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are secure and only used for client purchases.
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