With less than two months to run before their 2019 National Conference gets underway, TravelManagers are applying the finishing touches to the event, which will take place in Perth from 9 to 11 August. Three keynote speakers have just been announced for the conference, for which this year’s theme is “Customer”.
As TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal explains, the intention is for all attendees to leave the conference with one goal: to recognise each customer as an individual with their own reasons for travelling and their own expectations when it comes to their travel experiences.
“This year’s conference is all about celebrating the customer,” he adds, “along with their hopes, dreams, needs, sense of place and most importantly, experiences. We’ll be looking at how TravelManagers as a group and personal travel managers (PTMs) as individuals connect with our customers, how we use technology to enable a richer sensory experience, and how we work together and within communities to create a sharing culture and better outcomes for all.”
“We firmly believe that the future of travel is in sensory experiences, and customers are looking for stories as evidence and to inspire them. This conference is an opportunity for PTMs to share their stories and hear others that will inspire them.”
Gazal says this year’s objective applies to everyone attending the conference: the personal travel managers (PTMs) and National Partnership Office (NPO) support team, and also the partner suppliers who are participating. From the pre- and post- famils to the evening events, and of course, the keynote speakers, there is a high level of expectation on the organising team to devise a programme that is both information and inspirational: a brief that Gazal is confident this year’s keynote speakers will surpass.
The first of three speakers is Peter O’Donohue, who is currently the head of Qantas’ Boeing 787 programme.
“Peter has recently overseen the entry into service programme of Qantas’ new Dreamliner fleet and is now focused on the Qantas’ next challenge, Project Sunrise: the airline’s plan to operate non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York,” Gazal explains.
“During his 40 years with the airline, much of his work has been focused on ensuring the quality of the onboard experience for Qantas customers, so we look forward to hearing his thoughts on what the future of air travel holds for us and our clients.”
O’Donohue will be joined at the conference by Amanda Stevens, a renowned thought leader on the customer experience. With her extensive experience in consumer psychology and marketing and her mesmerising story-telling style, she is a highly regarded and sought-after speaker.
“Amanda’s presentation, entitled ‘Turning Customers into Advocates’, will cover the changing expectations of today's consumer, the science of client loyalty and the power of customer centricity, which ties in neatly with TravelManagers’ focus on putting customers at the heart of everything,” says Gazal.
The third and final speaker, whose keynote address will close the conference, is Samuel Johnson: an actor, big brother and accomplished unicyclist who created the ‘Love Your Sister’ charity with the support of his sister, Connie. By providing insights into his life and journey to creating this charity, which has raised more than $6 million to assist in cancer research, Sam will link the personalisation of everything the charity does with providing a great customer experience.
“For the last three years, TravelManagers has partnered with ‘Love Your Sister’ for its annual charity golf day, so many of our PTMs, clients and suppliers have already been inspired by Sam’s energy and determination,” says Gazal. “It is an honour and privilege to have him join us at this year’s conference, where many more will be inspirited by his story.”
As well as the keynote addresses, Gazal anticipates that a major highlight of the conference will be, as always, the team building activity. Details of this event are traditionally kept tightly under-wraps until the day, but Gazal hints that this year’s activity will not disappoint.
“The team-building event is an important and much-anticipated element of a detailed conference programme,” he adds.
“From the moment the conference gets under way with a welcome cocktail party on Friday evening to the final gala awards dinner on Sunday night, a lot of thought and effort goes into ensuring that the entire weekend is a memorable and uplifting opportunity for our people to come together, reconnect and talk about the future of the business.”
Gazal notes that registration numbers are slightly ahead of the previous two years, with final numbers expected to be close to or exceed 350.
“A contributing factor in the high attendance of our PTMs is that their partners, friends and family are also invited to attend the evening and social events throughout the weekend – something which sets us apart from many other travel brands,” he explains.
“Last year’s conference in Hawaii was the first time this opportunity was offered, and with TravelManagers’ emphasis on building a strong ‘family’ culture means it’s a policy we intend to continue.”
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