The National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) are a gargantuan event.
We know because, well, we organise them. It’s a massive undertaking involving so much effort from our team, our partners, sponsors, countless behind-the-scenes superstars and, in particular, the nominees, finalists and winners from across the travel industry.
It’s often said that the NTIAs are the Australian travel industry’s Oscars, and like the Oscars, winners’ acceptance speeches are kept brief to ensure the 44 categories are presented with Swiss precision. The annual event celebrates and acknowledges achievements of both companies and individuals who have excelled within their selected award category with fierce competition of over 1000 entries all vying to take home the crown as a 2019 NTIA award winner.
So, we asked this year’s winners to tell us what winning a National Travel Industry Award means to them and their businesses.
NTIA formalities were led by international award winning personality and TV journalist, Anjali Rao.
Here’s what some of them had to say.
Andrew Macfarlane, General Manager of the Magellan Travel Group (based in Melbourne, VIC), named Best Non-Branded Travel Agency Group, noted that the recognition the NTIA bring is invaluable.
“So many passionate travel people do outstanding work for their customers and it is vital that we recognise and reward the best of the best”, says Andrew.
“For a Group like ours, success is down to both our Members and the Magellan team. Each of our Member Agents and every one of our small Head Office team can feel justifiably proud and motivated by our NTIA win”, he adds.
Pictured: Andrew Macfarlane, General Manager of the Magellan Travel Group.
Andrew believes that customers take notice and gain still greater confidence in NTIA-winning businesses.
“NTIA recognition and ATAS accreditation are stamps of quality that says unequivocally that these businesses have undergone a rigorous accreditation process and meet the highest standards in their industry. Ultimately, that builds trust”, says Andrew.
Michael Gazal, Executive General Manager of Travel Managers (travel agency in Sydney (NSW)) named Best Mobile Travel Advisor Network, recognised the credentials of the NTIA judging panel.
Pictured: Michael Gazal and the successful TravelManagers team.
“The judging panel brings with it a wealth of experience in every area of the travel industry, so for TravelManagers to be acknowledged by this group of peers as the best in its category is very inspiring”, he said.
Image: Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive, acknowledging the NTIA Judging panel.
“Winning ‘Best Mobile Travel Advisor Network’ is the outcome of a lot of hard work and dedication from the entire network and reflects the professionalism of all 570+ personal travel managers—a collection of smart, passionate, fun-loving people who care about the success of the company, their colleagues, suppliers and clients individually”, he continued.
In the corporate travel sector, Sharon Levingston, Head of Events at The Events Authority (Sydney, NSW), named 2019’s Best Business Events Travel Agency, spoke of the role the NTIA plays as a business-improvement process.
“Our NTIA submission is an important annual healthcheck for our business. It really keeps us on track and helps us identify what we’re doing well and, perhaps, not so well”, says Sharon.
“Winning is such an incredible reward for our team. We are service providers first and foremost, so kudos to them—they’re the ones delivering award-winning service every day”, she adds.
Sharon also noted that The Events Authority’s clients are thrilled to know they’re working with the very best in the business.
Over at The Events Authority’s sister company, The Travel Authority Corporate— (based in Sydney, NSW) named Best Travel Agency Corporate, Multi Location—Managing Director Peter Hosper says the NTIAs are all about people.
“Frankly, we’re a people business. And ours are absolutely at the centre of everything”, says Peter.
“The travel industry isn’t quite as commoditised as some seem to think. These awards recognise the brilliant people whose passion brings real service to life. Businesses delivering exceptional service will always be relevant”, he adds.
Miriam Fois, General Manager of Complete Business Travel (Woolloongabba, QLD), named Best Travel Agency Corporate – Single Location, has a similar take to Sharon Levingston.
For Miriam, the NTIAs provide “reassurance that we have the right business goals and objectives in place. It gives us all the confidence required to move forward with our vision with a spring in our step. It also helps us to retain and attract quality staff, and reaffirms to our customers that they have a great travel partner.”
Combined with ATAS accreditation, it’s a potent mix.
“Our ATAS accreditation provides consumer confidence. It’s a symbol of trust and stability, which is crucial when prospecting for new clients and retaining existing ones”, says Miriam.
Image: Mike Dwyer and the Main Beach Travel team celebrate.
Main Beach Travel (Main Beach, QLD) was named Best Travel Agency Leisure – Single Location for the 2nd consecutive year and, according to Mike Dwyer, that’s had an interesting effect on the business.
“There’s a real WOW factor when you win an award like this. Wow from your clients, and wow for your staff as they’re recognised as the best in the business. However, after the initial celebration, the realisation quickly sinks in that there’s a reputation to live up to, and expectations are raised across the board”, he says.
Interestingly, being an NTIA winner also raises their clients’ confidence that they’re dealing with highly-regarded professionals.
“As a result, clients give greater weight to our advice. It’s also given our advisors additional motivation to excel in what they do, so it’s a win-win situation”, says Mike.
Annabel Dolphin, General Manager of Helloworld Travel Mackay & Mt Pleasant, (QLD) accepted the award for Best Travel Agency Leisure – Multi Location, and also a fan of the power of Wow.
“Winning is truly a team effort. We are dedicated to providing excellence in customer service and it is our aim to ‘WOW’ our customers to ensure they continue to choose us for all their travel plans. This Award proves to our clients that we they are in excellent hands”, says Annabel.
Likewise, their ATAS accreditation. “ATAS gives customers confidence that they’re booking with a reputable travel agency that has met strict financial and customer service criteria. Our ATAS accreditation provides customers with peace of mind when purchasing travel arrangements”, she says.
Image: Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive, talks about ATAS accreditation.
Nicola Strudwick is General Manager – Sales at Travellers Choice, named Best Travel Agency Group (50 outlets or more), and believes the NTIAs represent the pinnacle of achievement in our industry.
“Ultimately, there is no higher honour than to be recognised as the best by your peers”, says Nicola.
For Nicola, having a national network of just 150 independent travel agencies named as Australia’s Best Agency Group is an extraordinary achievement.
“It’s great to know that a small network of highly successful and committed independent travel agents can compete against some of the giants of our industry”, she says.
“It proves again that, no matter how crowded or competitive the marketplace, a great business can always differentiate itself by offering exceptional customer experience and outstanding value”, adds Nicola.
With 100% of Travellers Choice members ATAS accredited, their customers know that when they book a holiday through a Travellers Choice member they enjoy unrivalled security.
And, for anyone considering a tilt for a National Travel Industry Award in 2020, Annabel Dolphin has some advice:
“We are so grateful for the opportunity that these awards provide our business. It is not just the recognition of being a finalist or winner. The process itself was valuable in giving you an opportunity to reflect on your achievements and goals. I would encourage anyone who has been thinking about nominating to make time next year.”
ATAS Travel Agents – Experience you can trust
Read more about the 2019 NTIA award winner Best Online Travel Agent, flybuys Travel or we chat to some of the individual category winners in our blog post That winning feeling at the 2019 National Travel Industry Awards.
See the full list of 2019 National Travel Industry Award winners >