Skip to main content

How One Mann Went From Tour Guide To Travel Hero

There were many great stories told during NTIA 2023. Some were true, some were not and some were significantly embellished by large quantities of adult beverages.

Among them was the heartwarming tale of how one winner on the night went from humble tour guide to NTIA champion.

IT’S A long way from Greece to the Crown Melbourne but for one man the journey was well worth the effort.

He was one of more than 1,300 travel professionals and business folk who attended the 2023 National Travel Industry Awards.

Some 35 awards were handed out on the night and the cheer when the winner of ‘Most Outstanding Sales Executive – Land Supply’ was announced was one of the loudest.

Michael ‘Mickey’ Mann is the Sales Manager, WA/NT, for TTC Tour Brands. He has been with the company for 12 years having started his travel industry career as a guide for Busabout in Greece.

“Mickey ‘bled orange’ as he significantly grew the Busabout brand in Australia,” said Andrew Young, General Manager, TTC Tour Brands Oceania.

“After spending the COVID years sharpening his skills outside travel, Mickey returned to TTC and has taken his already revered reputation to new levels, bleeding rainbow now across the TTC Tour Brands.”

Fortunately, there was no blood spilt as Mickey went up to receive his award in front of the assembled Australian travel industry.

“This award to me is all about purpose and passion because you can always choose to do something you care about,” said Mickey after picking up the award.

“We have such an amazing team at TTC Tour Brands and I would like to thank everyone on team Oceania for all their support!”

That was just one of two big awards the company got to celebrate on the night. Trafalgar won the accolade voted for by more than 11,800 consumers in the People’s Choice Award – Favourite Travel Brand.

“While it is an award judged by the people, Trafalgar would not be Australia’s most loved brand without the support of the travel industry, and most importantly our travel agent partners,” said Toni Ambler, Managing Director TTC Tour Brands Oceania.

“So, a big thank you to all our agents that have booked Trafalgar tours this past year. This award is for you.”


Greg McCallum, Sales and Marketing Director, Entire Travel Group (Most Outstanding Wholesaler – Product/Service)

“Despite 50 years of history, coming out of the pandemic we were essentially a startup because we decided to reinvent our company.

“We invested in technology, product and an expanded range of destinations – along the way introducing our innovative website, 24×7 book and quote on-line, and pre-designed end-to-end holiday packages.

“Winning the 2023 award reinforces our belief that we are on the right track and it encourages every member of the Entire Travel Group team to continue pushing to find even better ways to serve travel agents.

“It also enhances our company’s reputation and rapport with our hand-picked collection of outstanding international partners, who provide the magic on the ground. Those trusted suppliers have been – and will continue to be – absolutely vital to our success.”

What’s next?

“One of our core values is continuous improvement and we absolutely have an insatiable appetite to get better. This is only the beginning of our story.

“We plan on improving all the time by finding new efficiencies, developing smarter solutions, injecting even more expertise into our teams and continuing to build unique products that agents can effortlessly sell to their clients.”

Christian Hunter, Managing Director, Travellers Choice (Most Outstanding Non-Branded Group).

“This is the third consecutive NTIA in which Travellers Choice has been honoured as Australia’s top agency group, which means we are now consistently re-setting the industry benchmark when it comes to supporting Australia’s independent travel agents.

“For the small but hard-working Travellers Choice team who deliver those support services, this year’s award is a hard-earned and much-deserved accolade.

“For our existing family of member shareholders, it is an opportunity to once again celebrate what we have built together.

“And importantly, for those independent travel agents out there who are considering joining a national network, or reconsidering their current consortia arrangements, it’s another reason to speak to Travellers Choice. Let’s start that conversation.”

Why did you win?

“The period between 2019 and 2023 has been the most turbulent period in the history of the Australian travel industry, encompassing the very worst of times and, more recently, some of the very best.

“Throughout it all, Travelers Choice’s focus on supporting our members shareholders has never faltered; never wavered.

“I don’t believe any other retail travel group can rival the passion, dedication and commitment we bring to helping every one of our members enjoy business success.”

Michelle Black, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Viking Cruises. (Most Popular Ocean Cruise Operator)

“We are absolutely thrilled to win this award,” Michelle Black, Managing Director, Viking ANZ, told Traveltalk after their debut NTIA victory.

“We constantly win lots of awards globally but we’ve not really won any awards locally here in Australia. So, everyone’s pretty pumped that after all our hard work we’ve finally been recognised.”

What’s the secret of your success?

“We just focus on us, on Viking, we don’t probably focus on anyone else and just do what we do.

“We are also a marketing driven organisation, we’re not yield driven or operationally driven, which I think a lot of the bigger cruise lines are.

“It’s all about marketing and the brand, building awareness and selling the right products.”

David Galt, CEO Webjet (Most Outstanding Online Travel Agency)

“The National Travel Industry Awards are well-respected in the industry for their rigorous judging process and to have been recognised as the Most Outstanding Online Travel Agency is testament to the talent, passion, and commitment of the Webjet team.

“We offer our sincere thanks to all our employees, customers and partners for their support over the past 12 months and look forward to another exciting year ahead.”


“The NTIAs 2023 was truly a night to remember. This is in no small part due to the high calibre of entries we received and the exemplary standard of travel professionals and businesses all throughout Australia,” said Dean Long, ATIA CEO.

“It was so exciting returning to Melbourne this year and to be able to celebrate with all of the incredible travel professionals that make our industry so special.

“Our vibrant travel community is our greatest strength and through events like the NTIA we will continue our focus on harnessing the skills and expertise across our network to benefit our industry, our clients and our businesses.”

The 2024 National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) will be held on Saturday October 26. The location will be announced shortly.

Full NTIA winners list:

Most Outstanding Mobile / Home Based   Travel Advisor Wendy Brockbank – MTA, Mobile Travel Agents
Most Outstanding Travel Agency Manager Stacey Brownsey, Helloworld Travel Mt Pleasant
Most Outstanding Travel Consultant   Corporate Lauren Zischke, Helloworld Travel Mt Pleasant
Most Outstanding Travel Consultant Leisure Louis Teng, Connelly & Turner Travel Associates
Rookie of the Year David O’Shea, RAA Travel
Most Outstanding Sales Executive – Air Nick Lewis, Air New Zealand
Most Outstanding Sales Executive – Cruise Helen Courias, Holland America Line
Most Outstanding Sales Executive – Land Supply Mickey Mann, The Travel Corporation
Most Outstanding Employee Engagement and   Recruitment Program Flight Centre Travel Group
Most Outstanding Online Travel Agency Webjet
Most Outstanding Hybrid Online Travel   Agency Ignite Travel Group
Most Outstanding Business Events Travel Agency Event Travel Management (ETM)
Most Outstanding National Travel   Management Company Stage and Screen Travel Services
Most Outstanding Global Travel Management Company Corporate Travel Management – CTM
Most Outstanding Leisure Travel Agency –   Single Location FBI Travel
Most Outstanding Leisure Travel Agency – Multi Location Helloworld Travel Hunter Travel Group
Sustainability Award – Business Corporate Travel Management – CTM
Most Outstanding Mobile Advisor Network MTA – Mobile Travel Agents
Most Outstanding Travel Agency Group Flight Centre
Most Outstanding Non Branded Agency Group Travellers Choice
Most Outstanding Tour Operator –   Specialised Albatross Tours
Most Outstanding Tour Operator – Global APT
Most Outstanding Wholesaler – Product /   Service Entire Travel Group
Most Outstanding Wholesaler – Product / Service Viva Holidays
Most Outstanding Wholesaler –   Destination / Experience ANZCRO
Most Popular Tourism Office Destination Canada
Most Popular Accommodation Group / Chain IHG Hotels & Resorts
Most Popular Airline – Online Virgin Australia
Most Popular Airline – Offline Lufthansa Group
Most Popular Ocean Cruise Operator Viking
Most Popular River Cruise Operator Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
Most Popular Car Rental Operator Avis
Most Outstanding Travel Industry Training   Institution TAFE Queensland
Sustainability Award – Supplier Hurtigruten
Innovation in Travel Support Services Cover-More Travel Insurance: Post Pandemic Support