More than 320 personal travel managers (PTMs), representatives from partner suppliers and the National Partnership Office (NPO) have gathered in Honolulu for TravelManagers’ annual conference.
TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, says this year’s conference theme, success, was chosen because of its relevance to all areas of life.
“Whilst success in business is commonly measured in terms of turnover, we know that in reality it’s much more subjective and multi-faceted,” Gazal explains. “Whether it’s improving work-life balance, choosing to specialise in a particular field of interest or developing functional and personal skills, we’ll be discussing the tools and skills currently available, and looking at future innovations that will help our PTMs and travel partners achieve even greater success going forward.”
Although the official conference begins on Friday morning, local time, at the Prince Waikiki with a welcome from Hawai’i Tourism’s Giselle Radulovic, attendees have been arriving all week to make the most of the lead-up offerings, which range a pre-conference golf tournament to famils of Oahu and Maui.
“The famils, along with two further post-conference famils to Kauai and Hawaii, were organised by our friends at Hawai’i Tourism Oceania,” explains Gazal, “and they’re an amazing opportunity for PTMs to extend their stay and delve a little deeper into what these beautiful islands have to offer.”
Highlights of the famils include a visit to Kualoa Private Nature Reserve, a working cattle ranch and farm that provides authentic Hawaiian eco-tours and activities on Oahu, to a mountain tubing tour along the waterways of Kauai’s beautiful and remote rainforest interior.
The pre-conference golf tournament has become something of a tradition for TravelManagers’ annual conference: this year Honolulu’s stunning Ewa Golf Club was selected as the venue, and Gazal describes as a fun way for PTMs to reconnect with colleagues they may not have seen since the previous year.
“A lot of our PTMs and suppliers don’t get to see each other often during the year, so there’s always a build-up in excitement as more attendees arrive at the conference venue,” Gazal says. “By Friday morning when the conference gets under way, there will be a real buzz in the air.”
After the conference is formally opened by Gazal and House of Travel Australia CEO, Joe Araullo, there will be presentations from partner suppliers such as Hawaiian Airlines, Allianz and WLCL, as well as from PTMs, who will share their “Secrets of Success’.
“It’s a key part of TravelManagers’ culture that our PTMs share ideas, experience and knowledge with their colleagues, recognising that each individual has something to contribute and something to learn,” Gazal explains.
One of the main highlights of the conference’s first day is sure to be the presentation from keynote speakers, Chris Paulsen. Paulsen founded the New Zealand-based House of Travel, which acquired TravelManagers Australia in November 2007, and has received accolades throughout his career that include New Zealand’s Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2006, The Prime Minister’s Social Hero Award in 2007, and the Chairman’s Circle Honour from the US Travel Association in 2013.
“The House of Travel business model which Chris set up in 1987 was ground-breaking within the industry,” says Gazal. “Despite the changes and challenges faced by the travel industry over the past thirty years, Chris’ inspiring leadership and vision of what constitutes success made him an obvious choice to speak at this year’s conference.”
Day one will conclude with a welcome cocktail function, hosted by Hawai’i Tourism Oceania at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Day Two will be spent in a series of supplier workshops, before a mystery team-building activity in the afternoon.
“Participants will get the chance to discover the sights and tourist attractions of Waikiki – it promises to be an ‘amazing’ afternoon,” Gazal explains in a thinly-veiled hint of what lies in store. “And in the evening, the sunset cocktail party will be a great way to unwind from what promises to be a very full day.”
The final day of the conference will entail further supplier and PTM presentations, before the second keynote speaker’s address, which Gazal says is already generating plenty of excitement.
“Turia Pitt is one of Australia’s most admired and widely-recognised motivational speakers and having her address our conference is an immense privilege,” he explains. “Turia is an amazing example of what can be achieved through a combination of grit, indomitable spirit and passion, and we know that her story will astonish and inspire our people.”
The conference concludes on Sunday night with a gala awards dinner that is set to embrace the conference’s theme of success.
“Our people work hard all year,” Gazal explains, “and the gala dinner, as well as being a great way to conclude the conference and celebrate the successes of the past year is also a fun opportunity to spend time with colleagues and friends in a beautiful setting.”
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 540 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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