ne hundred and seventy-five Aussie
Specialists and 55 suppliers took part in the Australian Tourist
Commission's annual training event earlier this month. Known as
Corroboree, the Aborigine word for powwow, the event combined a fam
trip to Australia and a two-night workshop at the Renaissance Los
Angeles Airport Hotel, April 27 to 28.
According to Lyndel Gray, the Australian Tourist Commission's
regional director for the Americas, based in Los Angeles, the
Corroboree 2001 proved to be a huge success, with agents responding
well to the board's renewed emphasis on hands-on training.
no doubt that the most effective way for agents to improve their
Australia education and to lift their sales of Australian vacations
is for them to experience the destination and the product
firsthand," she said.
"From our perspective, this is the most effective form of
assistance we can provide to our agent partners, and they, too,
recognize that the better they know Australia, the better they can
Gray explained that this year's event offered agents a greater
range of fam trips than ever before, from pre-event trips to
Tasmania or the Northern Territory for advanced specialists, to
post-event fams to Queensland, southern Australia or
Melbourne-Victoria for newcomers.
"We provided two levels so that agents who had previously
experienced the 'icons' were able to visit less well-known
destinations and discover new parts of Australia," she said.
Meanwhile, the Corroboree's workshop component incorporated
meetings with state and territory tourism organization
representatives, roundtable discussions with wholesalers and tour
operators and presentations from Qantas Airways and Air New
Corroboree also featured a gala dinner for the presentation of
the seventh annual Opal Awards, which went to six winners.
"The awards give the Australian Tourist Commission an
opportunity to officially recognize the excellence of our agents,"
said Gray. "The standard of entries improves every year. It is
exciting to see the professionalism and commitment that so many of
our agents demonstrate toward their clients and their
Gray believes that the Aussie Specialist Program, one of the
first of its kind to be developed for retailers in North America,
continues to deliver excellent results for its agency members.
"Becoming an Aussie Specialist provides an agent with a unique
selling point, a real differentiation from all the competitors,"
"This sort of specialist skill is becoming increasingly
important in retail travel."
-- Michele San Filippo
Opal Awards: The winners are ...
his year's Australian Tourist
Commission's Aussie Specialist event, Corroboree 2001, featured the
seventh annual Opal Awards, which recognized six agency owners for
their essays describing projects in select categories.
Two agents won in more than one area: Maureen Jones of All
Horizons Rancho Travel in Los Altos, Calif., for Best Window
Display and Best Itinerary FIT Group or Special Interest (Deluxe),
and Lynda Wojt of Let's Talk Australia in Portland, Ore., for Best
Consumer Event and Best Print, Radio or Television Campaign.
Other winners were: Karolyn Wrightson of Essential Down Under
Travel in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., for Best Itinerary FIT Group or
Special Interest (Budget); Debbie Krumreich of Adventure Life Tours
in Indianapolis, for Best Direct-Mail Campaign;
Don Kiselewski of Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Travel for Best
PR/Publicity Campaign, and Elizabeth Ault-Meyers of Westwind Bay
Association Inc. in North Miami, for Best Electronic Media
Kiselewski has been writing monthly travel articles for 12
newspapers in Palm Beach County for 10 years.
"I write about the places I've visited on my eight trips there,"
he said. Each year, he writes two articles on Australia and
frequently speaks to local clubs about visiting the
Krumreich won for her two quarterly newsletters that go out to
her agency's clients and Aussie Specialist-generated leads.
"One of the reasons I won was because I promote Australia as a
quality destination," added Krumreich, who said her goal is to
increase business and send at least 50 people there by the end of
But winning multiple Opal Awards is nothing new to Jones, who
has won nine awards in her five years in the contest. In 1998 she
won two and in 1999, three.
This year Jones' agency won for having the best window
"We did something on the Olympic theme, with Australian flags,
numerous posters, koala bears and mileage from various cities."
Her other win was for a four-month trip she planned to Australia
and New Zealand for a local billionaire. Highlights included a
visit to the America's Cup, a private yacht cruise in Syndey
Harbor, a private plane flight over the Northern Territory and
Western Australia, an outback camping safari and a week at an
island diving resort in Queensland.
Do you really want walk-in business?
t is very hard to counsel
agencies to take the time to discuss philosophic questions related
to their business. But let me give it a try anyway.
Now might be a good time to address an important question since
so many travel agencies find themselves at a kind of crossroads,
wondering which future direction to take.
Do you really want to continue to maintain your street-front
location to encourage walk-ins?
20 years ago, a landmark industry study concluded that those
agencies in an office building were far more likely to be
profitable than agencies located at street level in busy shopping
I would be surprised if this has changed in the last 20 years.
Allow me to offer some personal observations about retail vs.
office locations:Office locations are more likely to operate with a sound
business plan. Their business is less speculative. They know who,
if anyone, is coming through their agencies' doors.Office locations are more likely to make better and frequent
use of targeted mailings, still the best source of new travel
business and far, far more successful than Internet marketing.Retail locations generate more "time-kicker" or waste-of-time
traffic. Their sale conversion ratio is far lower than that of
office locations.At a time when most industry gurus are begging agents to
specialize, storefront locations tend to be "full-service,
we-do-it-all-equally-well" emporiums.Retail space is more expensive than office space. You need to
sell more to earn more.
Think about the busiest retail location in your area -- the
nearest megamall. Would you really want to have the parking
problems, walk-in traffic and percentage of "whim" shoppers that
such a prominent retail location would generate?
It takes guts to operate without signage. But it also forces you
to know exactly who you are and what you do for a living. Let's
give this concept some thought.
Richard Turen is an industry consultant and travel agency
president. Contact him at [email protected].