Travel Agents

Avis crowns industry superhero as scholarship winner

Sophie Harrison / Kate Webster

It’s award season and what better way to kick it off than the annual Avis Travel Agent Scholarship, held at The Four Season’s Hotel in Sydney last night.

The scholarship – which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary – is one of the most recognised and enduring scholarships in the travel industry, and this year honoured Barbara Baron with the prestigious award for 2016.

The scholarship, which rewards those that have played an important role in raising awareness of customer service in the travel industry, is proudly supported by Avis. Members of the advisory board, Russell Butler and Jenny Lorkin, conceptualised the program’s success, having worked tirelessly to grow the program to what it is today.

“One of the reasons this unique program has endured is because it has never wavered from its original objective: the encourage, recognise and reward outstanding customer service,” Avis Australia’s Travel Industry Manager, Russell Butler, said last night.

Butler added how the Scholarship had encouraged thousands of travel agents across the country to apply and, in doing so, has helped “sustain an important conversation within travel agencies about what defines customer service excellence”.

“Every person who has taken part has had to ask themselves, ‘am I delivering the best customer experience possible’? And how does this compare to my colleagues and competitors?”

The announcement of the annual Avis Travel Agent Scholarship, last night

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The announcement of the 2016 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship award at The Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney last night

Baron, from Sylvania Travel & Cruise (NSW), was among 13 out of 19 previous recipients present on the night. For Baron, the Scholarship will provide a stepping stone for both contacts and support, as she will enjoy a one year honorary position on the Avis Travel Agents Advisory Board and receive a prize package valued at more than $40,000, including:

  • two return Qantas Airways Business Class tickets to New York
  • six nights’ accommodation in Manhattan, seven days car rental from Avis and appointments with senior executives at Avis World Headquarters in New Jersey, with site visits to US travel agencies
  • a scholarship to study at Southern Cross University with financial support of up to $8,000 (subject to the terms and conditions identified by Southern Cross University)
  • 12 months’ individual membership of Cruise Lines International Association (Australasia) and two tickets to attend Cruise3sixty Australasia in Sydney in September 2017
  • a Polonious Resources Personal Profile, feedback session and on-call personal/professional coaching for 12 months
  • two tickets to the 2017 National Travel Industry Awards Gala Dinner in Sydney (including return flights and overnight accommodation)

Other finalists recognised last night in the 2016 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship include Janene Ferguson (Helloworld South Melbourne), Joanna Tatton (Cruiseabout Noosa), Barbara Baron (Sylvania Travel & Cruise), Melissa Pointon (MTA Travel) and Jeanette Lasek, Travel by Design (NSW).

Each finalist will now receive a personal online behavioural profile and consultation session with a Polonious Resources business coach.

Also in attendance were major sponsors of the Program including, Brett Jardine (CLIA Australasia), Jayson Westbury (AFTA), and Tony Carter (Amadeus IT Pacific), as well as other great support from companies within the industry (Qantas, Southern Cross University, CLIA, AFTA, Polonius Resources and the Four Seasons Hotel), all of whom also sponsor the program.

Butler added how the award has both shaped and positively impacted careers in the travel industry. 2015 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship winner, Belinda van Tholen from MTA Travel in Tasmania, had a similar message to share last night. “Game changing if you embrace it and a great opportunity. Jump in, be a song and look for an opportunity in everything.”

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