An emotional Jo Patton from TravelManagers was crowned the 2018 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship winner at a gala dinner in Sydney last night.
The latest in a long line of winners stretching back to 1996, Jo from Ulladulla in New South Wales was recognised by the judging panel for “consistently maintaining the highest level of excellence in her customer service and continuing to apply innovation in her work”.
Jo specifically impressed judges with her success in combining her passions of travel and craft to create Crafty Adventures, a service specialising in cruises and tours with a craft focus.
Speaking to Traveltalk straight after receiving the award, Jo said she couldn’t have taken the title without the help of one very special person.
“My sister Paula is quite well known in the craft world so that’s really helped to bring our business to where it is. I couldn’t have done it without her and she couldn’t have done it without me so we are a great team.”
The Scholarship is valued at more than $40,000 and the prize includes international business class travel to Singapore to attend the 2019 WIT Conference, professional guidance and access to education and training opportunities with organisations such as the Cruise Lines International Association Australia (CLIAA).
The four finalists were Jo, Cei Creighton from MTA in Queensland, Carolyn Cruickshank from Flight Centre Corporate in Victoria and Krystle Tse from Traveledge in Sydney.
“I was quite well prepared and really thought about the questions and answered them in how they related to my business as well. I’m just so passionate about what I’m doing – I think that’s most likely what did it for me,” Jo told Traveltalk.
Now in its 22nd year, the Scholarship has evolved into one of the most valuable and prestigious awards offered to Australian and New Zealand travel professionals.
“All the finalists were impressive in their own right but this particular candidate really demonstrated something special in terms of customer service, a real passion for the customer and some real innovation in how they approached this to make it successful,” said Tom Mooney, Managing Director, Avis Budget Group.
The win was a back-to-back success for TravelManagers, with Personal Travel Manager Nakita Byrne awarded the Scholarship in 2017. This year’s recipient had no hesitation in encouraging her travel agent colleagues to enter next year.
“It really gave me a chance to step back and look at the big picture and evaluate myself and my business and what my strengths are and what I need to do in the future to be able to keep growing,” said Jo.
“Through her work, Jo has proved herself to be the best of the best, blazing a trail for others in the industry,” said Ian Jones, Commercial Director of Avis Budget Group Pacific.
“We can’t wait to see how the Scholarship will benefit her and help her grow over the coming years.”
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