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TravelManagers’ annual National Conference ended on Sunday with a gala dinner and awards ceremony in the Crown Perth’s Grand Ballroom: a glamorous, fun-filled evening in which personal travel managers (PTMs) and their partners joined representatives from the National Partnership Office (NPO) and suppliers to celebrate an inspiring weekend and honour the achievements of the past year.

TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, says the evening was a great way to conclude the conference, which he described as “a massive success”.

“This weekend has brought together a fantastic group of people who are passionate about travel and about delivering the best possible experience to their clients; that commitment has seen some remarkable results for many of our PTMs this year so it’s great to be acknowledging them in a high-profile arena,” Gazal said.

A total of 38 awards were presented in a variety of categories, including Top New PTM, Most Improved PTM and Top-Performing PTM, all of which were awarded by state and overall. An additional 26 PTMs received the Dedication Award, which celebrates 10 years in partnership at TravelManagers.

“We now have a total of 64 PTMs who have achieved this milestone,” Gazal notes, “which is a pretty sound endorsement of the partnership model’s success.”


Above: Conference attendees donated books and art supplies for chosen charity, Ronald McDonald House. TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal (right) with Ronald McDonald House representative, is pictured with some of the resulting swag.



Dedication Award “celebrating 10 years in partnership”: Carolynne Cannon, Daniel Price, Teresa Reyes, Michelle Thomas, James Hermiston, Karen Christie, Maria Pandalai, Darren Christensen, Annette McHugh, Robbie Barrett, Di Burney

New Personal Travel Manager WA/SA: Stacey Lekias

New Personal Travel Manager VIC/TAS: Lisa Phillips

New Personal Travel Manager QLD/NT: Leah Hughes

New Personal Travel Manager NSW/ACT: Dom Cannon

New Personal Travel Manager 2019: Stacey Lekias

Top PTM Website 2019: Kim Mason

Partner Supplier 2019: Hoot Holidays

Most Improved PTM WA/SA 2019: Lucrezia Caruso

Most Improved PTM VIC/TAS 2019: Jan Marshall

Most Improved PTM QLD/NT 2019: Frances Cream

Above: Day one of conference concluded with a welcome cocktail party at Perth’s riverside hotspot, Embargo on the Point.

Most Improved PTM NSW/ACT 2019: Alicia Clark

Most Improved PTM National 2019: Jan Marshall

Top Local Sales Executive WA/SA 2019: Neil Saunders

Top Local Sales Executive VIC/TAS 2019: KJ Slater

Tops Local Sales Executive QLD/NT 2019: Cam McDonell

Top Local Sales Executive NSW/ACT 2019: Helen Eves

Supplier Choice Award 2019: Erin Beckford

Recognition Award 2019: Sue Wright

NPO Support Team Member Award 2019: Tania Myles

Above: Instagram opportunity during a welcome cocktail party at Perth’s riverside hotspot, Embargo on the Point.


Top Personal Travel Manager WA/SA 2019: Sally Seward

Top Personal Travel Manager VIC/TAS 2019: David Hull

Top Personal Travel Manager QLD / NT 2019: James Hermiston

Top Personal Travel Manager NSW/ACT 2019: Ric Pattaro

Choice Award 2019: Rachael Portelli

Denise Dean Advocate Award 2019: Melanie Richardson

Success in Marketing Award 2019: Annette Fyfe

Spirit Award 2019: Erin Ross

Personal Travel Manager Top 10: Julianne Gazal-Rizk, David Hull, Ric Pattaro, Luke Vaughan, James Hermiston, Jan Marshall, JP Boutefeu, John Lengacher, Simon Tinkler, Sally Seward

Personal Travel Manager of the Year 2019: James Hermiston

Above: Just three of the many Freddie Mercurys in Perth on Friday for the opening of TravelManagers’ annual National Conference. (L-R) NPO’s Sarah Abella, Jam Del Villar and Teresa De Guzman.


Among the PTMs who received the Dedication Award on Sunday night was James Hermiston, representative for Coorparoo, Queensland, who was also named TravelManagers’ Top Personal Travel Manager for Queensland and Northern Territory and overall Personal Travel Manager of the Year for 2019. He attributes much of his success to the loyalty of his repeat customers, many of whom return year after year and refer their friends.

“James has spent the last ten year assisting his clients to fulfil their holiday dreams, and in the process has built a successful business that allows him to share his love of travel,” Gazal said.

Rachel Portelli, who is TravelManagers’ representative for Aberfeldie, Victoria, was the winner of the ‘Choice Award’ for 2019, as chosen by the PTM network. The award recognises an individual PTM for their willingness to help their colleagues, their professionalism, their dedication to upholding the TravelManagers brand and their contribution to the development of TravelManagers’ unique culture.

“I have spent more than 15 years working in an industry that I love,” Porcelli commented.

“I’m passionate about providing my clients with an exceptional level of service and continuing to build and expand my knowledge, and I feel privileged to be part of a company that is focused on making this possible.”

This year’s winner of the ‘Recognition Award’ was Sue Wright, representative for Mackay Harbour, Queensland. Wright was chosen by the NPO team for the award, which goes to the PTM who always adheres to policy and procedure, engages with the business and other PTMs and is considered all-round ‘good guy’ – an accolade made more impressive by the fact that she only joined TravelManagers a little over a year ago after a three-year hiatus from the travel industry.

“For me, it’s about being present and really connecting with people,” Wright explains.

“If I can help in any way to build a family of fantastic PTMs that I can support and inspire to be successful in their own business, that to me is truly fulfilling!”

New for this year is the ‘Top PTM Website’, awarded to Kim Mason, representative for Gymea Bay, NSW, for her Snow Safari family ski holiday business, while the ‘Success in Marketing’ award, was won by Annette Fyfe, representative for Victoria Point in Queensland. As well as the PTM awards handed out over the course of the evening, suppliers and NPO team members also received recognition for their achievements over the past year, including a new award for ‘Top Local Sales Executive’ in each state as voted on by the PTMs in those states.

Erin Ross, representative for Mount Cotton, Queensland, was the worthy recipient of TravelManagers’ Spirit Award, which Gazal describes as epitomising everything TravelManagers stands for.

“Erin lost her husband, Matt, four years ago to brain cancer, and she and her family have thrown themselves in to raising funds for brain cancer research as a result of their own experience with the disease. The Spirit Award is given each year to someone who lives, breathes and reflects the heart and soul of TravelManagers: Erin does exactly that, and we couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Possibly the biggest surprise of the night was the arrival of guest speaker, retired Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist, who is a patron of Ronald McDonald House, which was the local charity that TravelManagers chose to support at this year’s conference.

“Adam has been a dedicated patron of Ronald McDonald House for nearly twenty years,” says Gazal. “Having seen first-hand what amazing support this charity provides for the families of sick children; it was a real pleasure to hear from Adam about his passion for this organisation and the incredible people who work together to make it a success.”

At the conclusion of the awards section of the gala dinner, Gazal thanked all the attendees for their continued teamwork, dedication and commitment, praising them for the outstanding results achieved in another record year.

“Tonight’s winners represent the pinnacle of what it is to be successful with TravelManagers,” Gazal declared.  “Every one of you works incredibly hard to provide outstanding service, and I look forward to celebrating this year’s achievements with you next year in Hamilton Island.”

As they departed home yesterday, participants hailed the TravelManagers conference as a great success.

Apart from the surprise arrival of Gilchrist, PTMs greatly enjoyed the presentation by Amanda Stevens, a passionate advocate of customer experience who fulfilled her reputation as one of the Australia’s best speakers.

The head of Qantas’ 787 Dreamliner program, Peter O’Donohue, was also impressive – and there was universal delight in the presentation by Samuel Johnson: actor, big brother and accomplished unicyclist who created the ‘Love Your Sister’ charity with the support of his sister, Connie.

Johnson was a knockout – engaging, enthusiastic and dedicated. Apart from hilarious anecdotes about fellow celebrities, he brought news of groundbreaking advances in DNA that are helping the battle against cancer. His language is colourful (no shortage of F-bombs there!) but his passion shines through. Everyone loved him.

Edited by Peter Needham