When Shannon Styles heard she had beaten more than 800 travel agents to be named the smartest rail expert in Australia for 2016 her first thought was that someone was trying to make a fool out of her.
“Well, it was April Fools’ Day, so I was a bit unsure,” says Shannon, a consultant from Flight Centre Townsville Fairfield Waters. “But when I realised I really had won it was awesome.”
The secret to her success in this year’s program, she says, was some intense study before taking the Global Rail Expert exam. The reward for all her hard work – besides the pride of being this year’s Dux – is an unforgettable return journey to Europe flying Qatar Airways and a Eurail Pass, both of which Shannon is hoping to enjoy in early 2017.
For the first time in its history, this year’s Rail Plus’ Global Rail Expert program was open to every travel consultant in Australia. The response was extraordinary, with more than 1000 agents across Australia and New Zealand completing the course’s 10 training modules, which covered topics such as Amtrak, VIA Rail, Rocky Mountaineer, Qatar, Swiss Travel System, Eurail, France-Spain High Speed, France rail pass and TGV.
The top three graduates were chosen based on the number of questions answered correctly and overall time taken to complete the course. This year’s runner up, Claire Scolyer (Flight Centre Townsville Fairfield Waters), took home a $750 Coles Group and Myer gift card, while third placed graduate, Anthony Hoang (Escape Travel Highpoint), was rewarded with a $250 gift card.
Rail Plus Chief Executive James Dunne says every travel consultant who took part in this year’s program was a winner.
“As the response to this year’s program shows, there is an enormous desire among consultants to enhance their understanding of international rail,” he said.
“As demand for rail travel continues to grow, every graduate is now better equipped to find the right rail solution to best meet their clients’ needs.