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Q: What was it that inspired you to enter the travel industry?

A: I had just sold my takeaway and catering business called ‘Out to Lunch’ and was at a crossroads in my life. Somehow, travel popped into my head.

I had always had such a love for travel and when I saw an advertisement in the paper, I applied. I went for the interview and talked my way around the fact that I did not have a degree, which was a prerequisite, and got the job!

I started in February 1990 and I have remained in the travel industry ever since, breaking for a few years to have our twin sons Robert and Fraser, who turn 30 in July this year.

Q: You’ve won a host of awards, most recently ‘Top Luxury Travel Advisor’ at the Luxury Travel Magazine awards. You must be proud of the success you’ve had in your career?

A: I am incredibly proud and humbled, yet mostly grateful that I have this wonderful job that hardly feels like work. My day is filled with creating ‘one of a kind’ magical holidays.

Yes, it is long hours and detailed work and yes, we must juggle many things and can’t miss any deadlines. We must be abreast of the changing industry, new hotels, new cruise ships, the best offers and all the while cultivating connections with our partners from around the world.

We do this so that when I need a hotel or a cruise ship to take special care of our clients, we know who to call or email. It’s amazing the connections made from General Managers, sales managers and concierges around the world.

It does require dedication, but it is so rewarding when you hear how overjoyed your clients are when they’re experiencing an unforgettable holiday you personally designed for them.

Q: What is it about the luxury travel sector that excites and inspires you?

A: Luxury truly means something different to everyone. Luxury is experiences, it is magic moments, it is the guide taking you on a tour and helping you to discover, understand and experience the culture of a city.

For a first-time traveller, it could simply be the small luxury of having a private car transfer to collect you. Yet for a seasoned traveller, luxury might mean a private after-hours, behind-the-scenes tour of the Vatican.

I am always excited when I get to exceed the expectations of my clients and create luxury moments in their travels.

The surprise and delight when they are personally greeted as a VIP in a hotel or open their hotel door to find their favourite type of wine that I have organised will forever make me smile.

I am consistently inspired working with the outstanding travel suppliers in our industry. When I give them a brief, they never let me down and take the ideas I have and bring them to life. We have a true partnership.


Jo (second from right) with Norman Harper from &Beyond and three Virtuoso Advisors in Africa

Q: You now mentor aspiring luxury travel advisors. Was it important to you to “give back” to the travel community?

A: As the business leader of Kennedy & Turner Travel Associates, I have a team of seven. I am sure my team have heard me say many times: “if you do a whole lot of little things perfectly right every single time and you get the big picture of your client’s holiday right, then you make dreams come true and create lasting memories.”

I deeply believe in the value of our work – we are responsible for some of the best memories of our client’s lives.

And I get great joy from sharing what I’ve learnt over the past 34 years with not only my team, but also the greater Travel Associates network. I proudly sit on our Travel Associates Advisory Board to help achieve this.

Suppliers are also a very important partner and member of our luxury travel community and I’m always humbled when they come to me for input into their new product / destination developments.

They appreciate my credible input thanks to my deep understanding of the luxury client wants and needs, and I’m thrilled to offer any advice to ensure their offering is well received.

Q: What are some of your favourite travel experiences?

A: Egypt will always stand out for me. I was in complete awe… ancient history fascinates me. Equally Turkey and Cappadocia, and a balloon ride over the fairy chimneys was a standout.

More recently I went to Namibia and did a helicopter ride over the skeleton coast and the red sand hills before a surprise landing and a table set with nibbles and a gin and tonic while watching the sunset.

I can’t also forget the guided snorkel in the Maldives at Joali. There are too many to count and there’s so much beauty to uncover in our world.

Q: It’s said that luxury travel is booming because post-COVID people are willing to spend more on their travels. Has that been your experience?

A: Luxury travel is booming. Most of my clients travel once or twice a year, some three or four times. The travel world lost a few years and people have this urgency to travel and they are certainly catching up.

I think there is also a deeper appreciation of travel experiences after the pandemic and missing out for so many years. Travel is something that Australians have always valued deeply and I believe people with the means place a much higher value on that experience than they do the price tag.

And because of that we see that luxury clients are not waiting – they’re travelling now and bringing forward their bucket list of travel experiences.

More specifically, luxury cruising is on a steep incline and I’m seeing much longer trips with longer stops in each destination.

Q: How do you view the current state of the travel industry and particularly the luxury segment?

A: It’s a very exciting time for the luxury travel industry. There has never been this much demand for luxury travel in my 35 years of experience, but it’s so much more than a luxury hotel.

What’s more exciting than that is the combined demand for the professional knowledge and service of an advisor – the demand for special, exclusive, personalised experiences and the peace of mind of having it all taken care of at the end of the day by an expert.

I can’t wait to see how our industry evolves over the coming years. It could not be more exciting.