Ian McMahon’s perspective

Ian McMahon reflects on APT's 90 years and its growth.

Happy birthday APT

Much longer ago than I care to remember, in the mid-1970s when I worked firstly for the now defunct Traveltrade and then for the similarly ‘now defunct’ Travelweek, one of my regular news sources was a young, entrepreneurial coach tour operator by the name of Geoff McGeary.

I would phone him every fortnight or so and he would bring me up to date on the latest tour programs being released by the company of which he was joint managing director — Australian Pacific Tours.

He was a very hands-on managing director when it came to producing brochures that could be powerful selling tools. He firmly believed the way to achieve this was to pack in as much detail as possible about each tour’s inclusions.

He may not have known much about (or, to express it more accurately, he may not have been formally educated in) graphic design or copywriting; but he knew what sold coach tours.

I had encountered Geoff McGeary and APT at just one stage of an incredible journey that began with Geoff’s father founding a local Melbourne transport business. When his father died prematurely, Geoff, a painfully shy and dyslexic teenager, persuaded his mother not to sell the business but instead allow him to take his best shot at running it.

Some best shot! Today the business has grown into an iconic Australian travel company with offices around the globe, owning and operating coach tours, river and ocean cruises, rail journeys, air charters and tourist accommodation.

When APT last month celebrated its 90th birthday at a glittering function in Melbourne, Geoff McGeary was a commanding presence — clearly still “hands on” in ensuring his company provides product that sells.

MEANWHILE, as I write this column, the death of Peter Isaacson at the age of 96 has been announced.

A war hero, who defied death every time he commanded a Lancaster bomber on missions over occupied Europe and who famously flew one of those aircraft under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Peter Isaacson became a highly successful publisher of, among dozens of titles, a national daily, a Melbourne Sunday and a series of suburban newspapers. He was also the founder of Travel Week which I edited for close to 30 years.

The passing of PI, as he was known to his staff, has seen an outpouring of tributes from former employees praising the unique working environment he created and the many opportunities he gave us. I proudly add my name to the list of those paying tribute to this great Australian.

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