TravelManagers’ Conference Wraps with Glittering Awards Dinner

TravelManagers’ Conference Wraps with Glittering Awards Dinner

Featured photo: Winner of the PTMs’ Choice Award, PTM Michelle Kingston (centre) with three John Travoltas aka TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, Chief Operating Officer, Grant Campbell, and Chief Executive, Joe Araullo (in white, L-R) along with NPO Fares & Ticketing Manager, Jose Canas (in glasses) and Barry Mayo (far left).

A gala awards dinner with a glamorous “Studio 54” theme provided a suitably celebratory conclusion to TravelManagers’ annual national conference on Friday night.

Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, was present to assist with announcing the category winners. The Excellence in Marketing Award was given to PTM Ed Bradford, who is TravelManagers’ representative for Buninyong, Victoria.

“Ed was chosen for this award by the National Partnership Office (NPO) marketing team, on the basis of his determination to learn new marketing skills, adapt to a changing travel market and identify new opportunities – both online and within his local community – in the face of changing consumer sentiment and an unpredictable travel environment,” Gazal explains.

The Excellence in Marketing Award was awarded to PTM Ed Bradford, pictured with NPO Marketing Manager, Tania Myles

“Being chosen for the Marketing Award was very special to me,” Bradford responds. “Throughout the pandemic, I’ve kept pushing myself to stay positive and support suppliers and destinations. I take pride in how I market TravelManagers and my personal brand, and love having the ability to share my experience on different platforms.”

According to Gazal, personal travel managers (PTMs) were tasked with choosing the winners of the Choice Award, NPO Support Award and Supplier Partner Award.

“The PTMs Choice Award is voted by PTMs to specifically recognise a fellow PTM whose qualities include a willingness to help you, professionalism, upholding the TravelManagers brand and developing the unique culture within our business. This year, Michelle Kingston was the worthy recipient.”

“PTMs also selected our Systems Support team member, David McCarthy, for the NPO Support Award, while HAL/Seabourn and Room-Res were jointly awarded the Supplier Partner of the Year,” he adds.

McCarthy, who is a member of TravelManagers’ Tramada Help Desk, says he was humbled by the personal recognition associated with his award, and attributes his success to a team effort.

Room-Res was represented by co-CEO, Nic Bryant, who says the thrill of the win was made even greater because it came about as a result of votes from the PTMs themselves.

Supplier Partner of the Year Award was shared by Nic Bryant and Sharyn Van der Veeken from Room-Res and Helen Courias from Holland America/Seabourn who are being congratulated by Sandra Leslie TravelManagers’ Supplier Relations Executive

“Our partnership with TravelManagers has been a real high point in what has been such a challenging couple of years,” he adds. “The engagement from the PTMs, and from the NPO team, has been so positive and collaborative, and has directly contributed to further improving our offering as we look to meet the evolving needs of our partners. It was a lovely surprise to receive this award and we are very grateful for the support and recognition.”

Supplier partners were able to reciprocate their appreciation for PTMs, selecting someone they believe has supported their brand while also upholding TravelManagers’ brand values. This year, the Supplier Partner Award was won by Carli Hester, representative for Mount Duneed, Victoria.

Hester left immediately after the conference for Greece and sent a message from Mykonos to express her thanks:

“The Suppliers’ Choice award means so much to me: I feel very honoured to have been nominated by our suppliers. I really value our relationships and the support they give my clients, myself and TravelManagers as a group.”

In a break from tradition, there were no sales-based awards this year owing to the impact COVID has had on the travel industry. However, Gazal points out that this in no way diminished the air of celebration which infused the evening.

“In keeping with this year’s overall conference theme of ‘Together’, the awards dinner was a celebration of the spirit of cohesion, cooperation and mutual support that makes TravelManagers’ culture so special.”

This attitude is reflected by The Denise Dean Advocate award which, according to Gazal, is judged by the Partnership team and recognises a true advocate of the TravelManagers brand.

“The award is given to someone who is always professional and often out there promoting TravelManagers, referring new PTMs into the business,” he explains. “This year’s deserving winners were Laurin Taggart and Dan Brown, who are representatives for Forster, NSW and Old Bar, NSW, respectively.”

The Denise Dean Advocate Award was awarded to PTM Laurin Taggart, pictured with Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal

Taggart says she feels proud to share the award with her colleague, Dan Brown, who she holds in high esteem.

“Joining Travel Managers back in 2016 has been the best business decision I’ve ever made,” she adds. “It has completely changed not just my work life for the better, but also my family’s lifestyle. The opportunities it has presented both on a professional and personal level are unbelievable and I am incredibly thankful for the ongoing support that stems from my partnership with TravelManagers.”

The penultimate award for the night, also selected by the NPO team, was the Recognition Award, which is given to a PTM who always adheres to policy and procedure, engages with the business and other PTMs and is an all-round ‘good person’.

This year’s recipient was Di Yates, representative for Montrose, VIC, who says she was thrilled to be chosen for the award.

PTM Di Yates (right) is congratulated on receiving the Recognition Award by NPO Finance & Commercial Manager, Tanyu Cilek

“It was a huge honour and surprise to receive such an accolade from my peers when there are so many PTMs who are equally deserving of this award,” Yates reflects. “To be a winner amongst such an exceptional league of professionals makes me truly thankful. I feel extremely privileged to be a part of this amazing TravelManagers family, who have been there with every possible assistance and always with a smile.”

The final award to be presented was the Spirit Award, which TravelManagers’ CEO Joe Araullo says is given to someone whose everyday attitude and principles inspire and pervade the thoughts, feelings and actions of everyone at TravelManagers.

“It is given to someone who lives, breathes and reflects the heart and soul of TravelManagers, and is open to any person who has been key to developing, maintaining and enhancing TravelManagers’ unique culture,” he explains. “Our retiring Chairman, Barry Mayo, epitomises the values represented by the Spirit Award, which is why we were delighted to announce at the awards dinner that it will henceforth be known as The Barry Mayo Spirit Award.”

Rebecca Owen from NPO Accounts received the newly renamed Barry Mayo Spirit Award, pictured with its namesake

Mayo was invited onstage to present the newly renamed award to its first recipient: Rebecca Owen, who is part of the NPO accounts team. She says she was honoured and elated by her unexpected win, which Araullo says provided a joyful conclusion to the formal section of the gala dinner and ended the conference on a high note.