National Conference Delivers Inspiring Stories and Innovative Initiatives
A Hawaiian-themed sunset cocktail party overlooking Waikiki Beach marked the end of successful first day for TravelManagers’ Annual National Conference on Saturday night.
Earlier in the day, the conference was formally opened by CEO, Joe Araullo, and Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, whose address included key announcements including the launch of TravelManagers’ new Network Assistance Program and a new partner supplier agreement with Luxury Escapes. Gazal and Araullo then handed over to the first of a series of presentations from personal travel managers (PTMs): a feature that has become an integral component of the conference weekend over the past eleven years.
“This year’s first PTM presentation was from 2017 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship winner, Nakita Byrne, who shared how winning this accolade has impacted her personal and professional life,” Gazal says. “She talked about the need to take care of yourself first and foremost in order to balance life’s demands: a message that resonated with many.”
Byrne’s focus on being able to spend time at home with her family whilst still following her dreams, served as inspiration to many PTMs, including Michelle Desmarchelier, representative for Berowra, NSW, who described the presentation’s subject matter as “close to home for many of us and a reminder to be true to ourselves.”
The next presentation was from South Australia-based PTM Josh Faddoul, who explained that his business plan was based around “being able to make as much money as possible in the fewest hours possible, while having the freedom and flexibility to do whatever I want in my own time.”
Faddoul outlined his top five tips for success and emphasised the need to focus on personal wellbeing in the quest for business success. His presentation was followed by a moving presentation from fellow PTM, Erin Ross. Ross, who is representative for Mount Cotton, QLD, brought a fresh perspective to the conference theme of success, earning a standing ovation after sharing about the journey she and her family have been on since her husband, Matt, was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“Success is knowing that every day there is something to be thankful for – there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for,” Ross says.
Ross has described the reaction to her presentation as overwhelming, adding that she felt overwhelmed by the beautiful messages she has received.
“It made the nervous morning all worth it – I’m feeling so much love for my TravelManagers tribe, and feeling very, very thankful today, that’s for sure.”
Ross was followed by the first of two keynote speakers: Derick Borean, who as co-founder and CEO of The Altius Group & PeopleSense, was at the conference to introduce TravelManagers’ new wellbeing initiative, the Network Assistance Program (NAP).
“We know that a healthy mind leads to a more balanced and successful life,” Borean explains, “so it’s very exciting for TravelManagers that from 1 September, all PTMs and the NPO team will have access to a national network of clinical psychologists for professional counselling relating to any stage in their lives.”
House of Travel founder and Executive Chairman, Chris Paulsen, picked up where Borean left off, sharing House of Travel’s 40+ year story and discussing the importance of loving life and following one’s passions on the road to success.
Melanie Carter, who is representative for Scoresby, VIC, is just one of many PTMs who expressed her appreciation for Paulsen’s message: “I appreciated the honesty and openness, and I’m ever so grateful for the chances he’s taken along the way. All of our lives are changed because of them – mahalo!”
Day Two and Three of the TravelManagers’ conference are to include further presentations, supplier workshops and a fun team-building activity that will take place in and around Waikiki, wrapping up with one of the main highlights: a gala awards dinner that Gazal describes as the ideal conclusion to a busy but rewarding weekend.
“Nine personal travel managers (PTMs) have attended all eleven TravelManagers annual conferences,” says Gazal. “We believe that’s a great endorsement for a winning formula of fantastic locations. inspiring presentations and fun social and team building activities.”