Agent Wrap: MTA brand ambassador marks 10 years, Travel Counsellors ranked #1 + MORE

NEWS: NEWS: ** NOT FOR INTERNET ** EMBARGOED UNTIL MIDNIGHT 03/05/10. Solo Round the World sailor Jessica Watson, 16, on Ella's Pink Lady rounds the southern tip of Tasmania

While this week’s Agent Wrap is a little short on content, it still packs a punch, so we’re calling it our fun-sized edition.

MTA brand ambassador Jessica Watson marks 10 years

Friday 15 May 2020 marked 10 years since the shy 16-year-old Jessica Watson (pictured above) from the Sunshine Coast sailed back into Sydney Harbour on board her boat Ella’s Pink Lady to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world.

This year also marks Watson’s 10th year as a brand ambassador for MTA – Mobile Travel Agents.

Now a close friend of MTA, she was an honoured guest at the agency network’s recent 20th-anniversary conference.

Watson is also the co-founder of marine start-up Deckee.com, an app where boaters share information on hazards, anchorages, fishing hotspots, boat ramp traffic and more.

She’s also completed an MBA, written two books, is an in-demand corporate speaker and a management consultant within Deloitte’s Human Capital Practice.

The Queensland Maritime Museum, where Ella’s Pink Lady is proudly on permanent display, declared Friday 15 May Jessica Watson Day and have announced a series of events in her honour.

However, with the museum temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, the events were postponed and will take place today.

Travel Counsellors tops the chart

Travel Counsellors has reached number one in a survey reviewing customers experiences with travel companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey initiated by MoneySavingExpert.com, the finance and consumer affairs site founded by Martin Lewis, was completed by over 27,000 people and named Travel Counsellors as the travel business that came out on top.

The survey ranking follows Travel Counsellors being named as winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the third time in the company’s history last month.

With all winners personally approved by Her Majesty The Queen, the prestigious accolade recognises excellence in British business.

Teamwork makes the dream work for TravelManagers agent

For many travellers who found their travel plans thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic, the experience served as a vivid illustration of the value in working with an experienced travel professional – or more accurately, an entire team of travel professionals.

One such collaborative effort came about when TravelManagers’ representative for Kyogle in northern NSW, Tamara Tiffin, received a late-night call from the mother of a client who was travelling in regional Vietnam and had realised that there was an urgent need to return to Australia while it was still possible.

“Communicating via Facebook Messenger, we made plans for her to hop on a train from Nha Trang to Saigon that night,” Tiffin explained.

“She would then connect to what I understood was the best possible flight option home – travelling via Taipei at midday the next day.”

The client’s ticket was issued, Tiffin updated her colleagues on her progress, thanked them for their assistance, and then logged off. Later that night, her daughter noticed her phone was manically flashing.

Tiffin’s colleagues were alerting her that an updated transit policy meant her client would not be able to travel through Taipei as planned. They gave her advice on how to void the original ticket and reissue a replacement with a new routing via Japan.

However, it was not to be entirely smooth sailing from here for Tiffin’s client, who arrived in Saigon to a city in lockdown. With no taxis to be found and an increasingly hostile reception from the locals, the client once again turned to Tiffin for help.

“Once again, I reached out to my colleagues via our Facebook group, and once again, they came to the rescue, providing personal contacts who were able to drive my client to the airport safely.”

Tiffin said her client was required to spend 16 hours in transit at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport en route to Australia and arrived to find that there were no shops open.

Advice once again came through from Tiffin’s PTM group, reassuring her that she should sit tight as the shops would open at 10am.

“Sure enough, at 10am the shops opened, and my client was able to buy herself a cup of coffee and something to eat,” Tiffin said.

“Her journey home was long, tiring and at times incredibly stressful, but knowing that she had not just one but a whole bunch of experts supporting her every step of the way was incredibly reassuring.”

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