travelBulletin had the chance to congratulate and speak to several AFTA NTIA 2015 winners, and here's what they shared with us.

Best Travel Agency Group: Travellers Choice

Christian HunterThe 2015 NTIAs will no doubt go down as a career highlight for Travellers Choice CEO Christian Hunter whose group muscled out industry heavyweights Flight Centre and Helloworld to win the coveted Best Travel Agency Group award.

Marking the company’s first ever NTIA in its 38 year history, Hunter congratulated all Travellers Choice members and thanked them for their continued support. Speaking with travelBulletin after the win, Hunter said the company’s unique co-operative model also got the group over the line. “We’ve gone from being a small co-op to a large office, and we are very proud of the win considering the strong competition,” he said.

“You are only as good as the staff behind the company, and I truly believe that our consultants see the value of our model, and that drives them to work so hard.”

APT: Best Tour Operator – Domestic, Best Tour Operator – International and Best River Cruise Operator

APT TeamAPT staff had plenty of practice for their NTIA acceptance speeches, taking home three awards for Best Tour Operator Domestic, Best Tour Operator International, and the new Best River Cruise Operator category.

APT has had consistent success at the NTIAs, winning the Best Tour Operator Domestic category for four years running and taking out Best Tour Operator International at last year’s gala. The operator also picked up three NTIAs last year, but APT director Robert McGeary claimed that the latest round of wins came as a great surprise.

“It’s so wonderful to be recognised by our peers, and thanks to everyone for helping to take us on our 60 year journey,” he told travelBulletin after accepting the third award. “I dedicate this award to our amazing staff.”

APT chief marketing officer Debra Fox also thanked staff for their continued dedication, adding that it was “no easy feat” to win the accolades. “I would like to thank our valued travel industry partners for voting for us and for their ongoing unwavering support,” she said.

Best Travel Agent Innovation: Amadeus Ticket Changer – Amadeus IT Pacific

AmadeusTravel technology innovations are coming in thick and fast, but it was Amadeus who took out the top gong for its Amadeus Ticket Changer solution at last month’s NTIAs.

Battling out fierce competition from Air Tickets, Sabre, Helloworld and Travelport, the Ticket Changer technology is designed to minimise the complexities of manual ticket reissuing and slash processing times to around two minutes. Amadeus managing director Tony Carter was quick to congratulate the team as he accepted the award.

“We are extremely proud to have come out on top in the Best Travel Agent Technology Innovation category.Our winning solution is the result of listening to our customers’ biggest pain points,” he said. “We are very grateful for the recognition at the AFTA awards.”

Best Travel Consultant – Corporate: Ric Pattaro, TravelManagers

Ric PattaroTravelManagers’ Ric Pattaro again took to the stand at the NTIAs last month, winning the Best Travel Consultant – Corporate award for the second year running. Speaking to travelBulletin fresh off the podium, Pattaro said it was an overwhelming feeling to again take home the award.

“I feel really privileged to win for the second time,” he said, adding that good service is central to being a good consultant. Pattaro thanked AFTA for the recognition and said the NTIA win was further encouragement for him to hone his skills in selling travel. “My message to the industry would be – believe in what you do, do it well, and the rest will take care of itself,” he commented.

Helloworld Hunter Travel Group/RACT Travel

 Hunter Travel GroupHelloworld Hunter Travel Group came out on top at last month’s NTIAs, taking home four awards out of six categories in which it was nominated.

The winning streak started straight off the mark with Jonathan Pichaloff from helloworld Newcastle Corporate taking out the Rookie of the Year award, while Lisa Tjandi was recognised as the Best Travel Agency Manager – Retail Multi Location. Jamie-Lee Holloway from helloworld Kotara also received the second ever Emirates Travel Scholarship, while the group also received the top gong for Best Travel Agency – Retail Multi Location.

Hunter Travel Group managing director Brett Dann told travelBulletin it was a validation of last year’s win to again take out the coveted award. “We had an incredible year in terms of results and this award proves that there is strength in working together and collaborating,” he said. “We want to continue to do better, but it’s amazing to win, especially being from a regional area.”

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