Gin, fast cars and country music – all part of the job for Travellers Choice National Business Development Manager Graham Smith, at least during a recent Melbourne-to-Brisbane road trip to visit some of the award-winning group's members.
During a return journey that took him through Ballina, Tweed Heads, Armidale, Tamworth, Mudgee, Bathurst and Canberra, Smith spent quality time with local Travellers Choice members, learning more about their businesses and the communities they serve.
"Seeing members at the annual Travellers Choice conference and during state member meetings is great, but nothing compares to seeing someone in their own backyard," says Smith.
"It's a more relaxed environment, where people can speak freely about their local trading environment and the challenges and opportunities unique to their agency. You also get to see first-hand just how integral independent travel businesses are to their local communities."
After the constraints of the past few years, Smith says Travellers Choice members are optimistic and excited about the year ahead.
"Wherever I went, spirits were high, and conversations were upbeat – reflecting a new level of confidence," he says. "It’s encouraging to see our members busy with strong enquiry and booking levels, while also working on plans for 2023 and beyond.
“At the same time, these visits provide me with an opportunity to ensure members are making the most of the hands-on marketing and sales support services that our BDMs and head office teams offer."
As happy as members were to discuss their businesses, Smith says all were just as eager to show him a few local attractions.
“It was wonderful to see Tamworth gearing up for the annual music festival and to take in the ocean views in Ballina and Tweed Heads. But for highlights, it’s hard to beat a drive around the Mount Panaroma V8 circuit in Bathurst, and a tour of Mudgee's high-end wineries – not to mention a visit to the town's distillery, which specialises in outstanding rums, gins and liquors.”