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New York beckons top customer-service Aussie agents

May 23, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Australia’s most prestigious and longest established achievement and academic awards program for travel agents, the Avis Travel Agent Scholarship, has entered its 18th year. Sponsors and past recipients gathered in Sydney on Wednesday for the launch of this year’s scholarship, which will seek to find and acknowledge Australia’s most customer-service focused agents.

Professor Elizabeth Roberts, who heads up Southern Cross University’s School of Tourism & Hospitality Management, told the gathering that qualifications were increasingly important in the industry – and studying for them was easier than many agents realised. She said 30% of the School of Tourism & Hospitality Management students studyed by distance – meaning they can study from home of workplace.

(from left): Professor Elizabeth Roberts, Southern Cross University School of Tourism & Hospitality Management;Anne Hobbs, 2013 winner of the Avis Travel Agent Scholarship; and Russell Butler, Travel Industry Manager, Avis.

From left: Professor Elizabeth Roberts, Southern Cross University School of Tourism & Hospitality Management; Anne Hobbs of Travelworld Kununurra, 2013 winner of the Avis Travel Agent Scholarship; and Russell Butler, Travel Industry Manager, Avis.

“You can take post-graduate studies without having an undergraduate degree,” Professor Roberts said.

The university has been a sponsor of the scholarship since 2010. The Avis Travel Agent Scholarship recognises and rewards consultants who consistently deliver outstanding customer service. The overall winner this year will receive a range of educational and travel-related prizes valued in excess of AUD 40,000, including:

  • Two return Qantas Airways Business Class airfares to New York;
  • Six nights’ accommodation in Manhattan and seven days’ car rental from Avis;
  • A scholarship to study at Southern Cross University with financial support of up to AUD 8000;
  • Training modules from the Cruise Lines International Australasia;
  • A Polonious Resources Personal Profile, Feedback Session and on-call personal/professional coaching for 12 months;
  • Two tickets to the 2015 NTIA Gala Dinner in Sydney (return flights, overnight accommodation and return limousine transfers);
  • A one-year honorary position on the Avis Travel Agents Advisory Board;
  • A tour of Avis’ World Headquarters in New Jersey and site visits to US agencies.

The 2014 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship is open to all leisure and corporate travel consultants, regardless of their current position, level of experience or commercial affiliations.

Avis travel industry manager Russell Butler said yesterday that the scholarship focussed on real-life customer service. At no point were applicants asked about their Avis sales, he said. Avis had a long-term commitment to the scholarship and the award had never been questioned from a budgetary perspective.

In recommitting to the scholarship, Southern Cross University said that its renewed sponsorship reflected the intention of the travel industry to increase the level of participation by industry members in tourism education.

“Given our School of Tourism and Hospitality Management’s reputation for excellence, it is appropriate the winner of the scholarship, the ‘best of the best’ in the travel industry, be supported to advance their tourism education by enrolling in a tourism degree at South Cross University.

“The University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management will provide a scholarship for a maximum of four units, with the winner having the option of enrolling in the course on campus of by distance education.”

To apply for the scholarship, travel agents simply go to and register their details. Applicants then have until the close of business on 31 July 2014 to answer a selection of simple questions on their approach to customer service.

Every travel agent applying for the 2014 Scholarship wins a two-day weekend rental voucher from Avis. And all finalists – chosen by the quality of their submissions – receive return flights to Sydney and accommodation on 21 October 2014 to attend the final judging session and the announcement of the 2014 winner at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.

In addition, this year’s finalists will receive a personal online behavioural profile and consultation session with a Polonious Resources business coach.

For more information on the 2014 Scholarship please visit

Written by : Peter Needham

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