We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we love a feel good story at Travel Weekly.
And this one is the stuff of fairy tales and social media dreams.
The winner of the 2017 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship, winning $40,000 and a slew of prizes, is Nakita Byrne, a regional New South Wales-based Personal Travel Manager with the TravelManagers network, who won the judges over with her savvy social media skills and penchant for creativity.
Judges for this year’s Scholarship — which for the first time in its 21-year history expanded to include New Zealand and adopted a fresh emphasis on innovation — praised Byrne for her inventive approach to building closer relationships with customers.
In her application, submitted as a series of YouTube videos, Byrne demonstrated a number of customer service initiatives.
Among them was her use of Instagram tags to encourage customers to submit images during their trips, which ultimately led to an upsurge in endorsements, increased brand awareness and new bookings.
Kaye Ceille, Managing Director Pacific Region, Avis Budget Group, said Byrne highlighted the benefits that can flow to travel agents who can embrace social media to engage in the trust economy.
“Consumers put a premium on endorsements by people in their social networks and Nakita has cleverly leveraged those connections to build credibility and trust.”
“The results have had a clear and positive impact on her business.”
Byrne was announced as this year’s recipient at an award ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney attended by Australian and New Zealand travel industry leaders. As the 2017 winner she receives a Scholarship prize package that includes:
- travel on Qantas Airways to the United States, Europe or Asia to attend a Phocuswright conference, where she will hear from some of the global travel industry’s most visionary leaders
- 12 months’ individual membership of Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (with exclusive access to the CLIA Accreditation Program and unlimited access to the CLIA Learning Academy)
- free registration to attend Cruise360, the industry’s largest professional development event of the year, in Sydney in 2018
- a Polonious Resources Personal Profile, Feedback Session and on-call personal/professional coaching for 12 months
- full tuition for two units of a Graduate Certificate of Business degree from Australia’s Southern Cross University (completed entirely online and over a two-year period, providing maximum flexibility and convenience)
- two tickets to the 2018 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (including return flights and overnight accommodation).
This year’s Scholarship finalists also included:
- Amber Halleday, MTA Travel (Mt Gambier, South Australia)
- Brigitte Kempf, New Zealand Travel Brokers (Timaru, New Zealand)
- Kim Mason, TravelManagers Australia (Sydney, New South Wales).
All will receive a Personal Behavioural Profile and a consultation session with a Polonious Business Coach.
Ceille thanked every travel agent who took part in this year’s Scholarship program, and acknowledged the award’s major sponsors for their ongoing commitment and generosity.