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The winner of the Avis Travel Agent Scholarship is…

November 14, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Much anxious waiting came to an end for four finalists in Sydney last night when Avis announced the 2017 recipient of its Avis Travel Agent Scholarship, an award that brings with it a scholarship program valued at more than AUD 40,000.

This year’s winner is Nakita Byrne, a regional New South Wales-based Personal Travel Manager with the TravelManagers network.

The 2017 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship achieved two notable firsts. For the first time in the award’s 21-year history, all finalists were members of home-based agent groups. Secondly, the quest expanded to include New Zealand and adopted a fresh emphasis on innovation.

Judges, who interviewed all four finalists in the build-up to the award, praised Byrne for her inventive approach to building closer relationships with customers.

In her application, submitted as a series of YouTube videos, Byrne demonstrated several customer service initiatives. Among them was her use of Instagram tags to encourage customers to submit images during their trips, which ultimately led to an upsurge in endorsements, increased brand awareness and new bookings.

At right: Winner Nakita Byrne, a regional New South Wales-based Personal Travel Manager with TravelManagers, with Kaye Ceille, managing director Pacific region with Avis Budget Group


Kaye Ceille, managing director Pacific region with Avis Budget Group, said Byrne highlighted the benefits that could flow to travel agents who embraced social media “to engage in the trust economy”.

“Consumers put a premium on endorsements by people in their social networks and Nakita has cleverly leveraged those connections to build credibility and trust,” Ceille told the audience at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.

“The results have had a clear and positive impact on her business.”

Winner Nakita Byrne from TravelManagers NSW with David Fellows of Scholarship sponsor Polonious Resources

Byrne is relatively ‘new’ to TravelManagers, having joined in March 2014, yet she is very much at home.

A week before the judging, Byrne said she was “extremely humbled to be announced as a finalist for the Avis Travel Agents Scholarship of Excellence.

“Having joined TravelManagers as a PTM just three years ago, I’ve come to love the freedom and flexibility. I pride myself on making my clients feel valued by providing expert advice and personal experiences to make their travel experience the best it can be. Providing consistent and outstanding service and genuinely looking out for what is in my clients’ best interests is the key to my success.”

Last night’s ceremony in Sydney was attended by Australian and New Zealand travel industry leaders.

Close second, Amber Halleday, MTA Travel, from Mt Gambier, South Australia

As the 2017 winner, Byrne receives a Scholarship prize package that includes:

  • Travel on Qantas Airways to the United States, Europe or Asia to attend a Phocuswright conference, where she will hear from some of the global travel industry’s most visionary leaders.
  • 12 months’ individual membership of Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (with exclusive access to the CLIA Accreditation Program and unlimited access to the CLIA Learning Academy).
  • Free registration to attend Cruise360, the industry’s largest professional development event of the year, in Sydney in 2018.
  • A Polonious Resources Personal Profile, Feedback Session and on-call personal/professional coaching for 12 months.
  • Full tuition for two units of a Graduate Certificate of Business degree from Australia’s Southern Cross University (completed entirely online and over a two-year period, providing maximum flexibility and convenience).
  • Two tickets to the 2018 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (including return flights and overnight accommodation).

This year’s Scholarship finalists also included:

  • Amber Halleday, MTA Travel (Mt Gambier, South Australia)
  • Brigitte Kempf, New Zealand Travel Brokers (Timaru, New Zealand)
  • Kim Mason, TravelManagers Australia (Sydney, New South Wales).

All will receive a Personal Behavioural Profile and a consultation session with a Polonious Business Coach.

Ceille thanked every travel agent who took part in this year’s Scholarship program, and acknowledged the award’s major sponsors for their ongoing commitment and generosity.

Written by Peter Needham

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