This week’s Industry Insider is with Barbara Baron from Sylvania Travel and Cruise, (a helloworld Associate store) and winner of the 2016 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship.
When you choose a path in travel, it’s all about the journey – because the destination is always changing. I started out in retail travel when I was 18. I’d never been overseas, didn’t even have a passport, but I knew like every other bright eyed and bushy tailed new consultant that I wanted to travel and experience life in other countries.
And I did just that. Without rolling out my CV, in 20 years I’ve enjoyed working for wholesalers in both reservations and sales capacities and with airlines in Sydney and the UK in leisure and corporate sales roles.
After an eight year absence, being a Mum driving a Subaru in the Shire, I was cajoled back into retail travel. I quit after four weeks. Battling with and against the internet, savvy travellers and a cruise market that had gone ballistic in Sydney I was literally drowning in the sea my clients were cruising in.
However the 2008 Avis Scholarship Winner, Kim Hatherly wouldn’t let me leave, and after three years, inspired me to apply for the Scholarship myself.
When I first read about the Avis Scholarship I was excited and couldn’t wait to begin my submission. This award recognises customer service and it really makes you look hard at yourself, judge your decisions and evaluate your ability and your dedication to exceeding customer’s expectations.
It took me the best part of two months, typing after the kids went to bed and the house was quiet, to write acceptable and personable responses to the questions.
I made Finalist in 2015, and this year, in the Avis Scholarships 20th Anniversary Year – I won. Aside from the amazing trip to New York, I’m also thrilled to pursue further learning with Southern Cross University, CLIA and Polonious Resources and of course attend the NTIA Awards in Sydney and Cruise3sixty in 2017. As part of the Scholarship I also receive a one year honorary position on the Avis Travel Agents Advisory Board which I am super excited to be a part of. Next year will be three years of my being a part of this process and I’m thrilled to be on the board this time.
Winning the Avis Scholarship was important to me as it has meant that all my years of being customer focused and driven, whether my customers were agents or the public, were rewarded and recognised by leaders in the travel industry.
I’ve had a few people influence my life and career. Early on in my retail days, Lynn Jackson was my Jetset sales representative. She is such a dynamic, fun and inspiring person – it was because of her, I had the desire to become a sales rep. Wayne Borland was one of my managers in the 1990’s at Air New Zealand, he always made us think how we could do better, how we could improve ourselves and deliver business whilst enjoying the journey at the same time.
And it’s back to the journey, I’m still on it. I’m now working at Sylvania Travel & Cruise battling with Santa who currently has his throne in front of our store at Southgate Shopping Center (in NSW). The team I work with here are nothing short of sensational. I’m learning something new every day, and you know the saying about old dogs and new tricks, well don’t believe it!
Sylvania Travel and Cruise is a helloworld Associate Store.