Magellan co-founder steps down

LAST month’s Magellan Travel Group conference in Sydney saw the company’s chairman Andrew Jones formally retire from the travel industry, as the Magellan board winds down operations following its acquisition by Helloworld earlier this year. The conference, which was the first since the controversial takeover, wrapped up with a gala dinner where an emotional Jones farewelled suppliers and agents and paid tribute to those who had supported Magellan through its journey over the last decade. Jones, who also sold Andrew Jones Travel to Corporate Travel Management last year, is moving onto a new phase of life as a farmer in Tasmania.

“At 49 years of age being the owner of two travel businesses, I didn’t really expect to be the owner of none and exiting the travel industry at the age of 50,” he said. “But there is a saying I’ve used many times… it is what it is.” Jones urged those present not to underestimate what an incredible industry we all work in. “I think we spend too much time focusing on what is wrong with the industry — married segments, missed TTLs, cancelled tours, ADMs, NDC, reduced commissions and worrying about complaining staff not being paid enough. I don’t think we appreciate what we actually have.”

He said the industry was full of great people with a common interest. “It’s a fantastic fun industry where you ultimately control your own destiny,” Jones added, relating the amazing experiences available and harking back to his first ever famil, at the age of 20, when he went to Singapore. “I never thought the Qantas 747 would get off the runway, I thought the Marina Mandarin was something from another world. I was so excited about the 15 hotel inspections each day, and I loved purchasing my fake watches and Lacoste T-shirts. The shirts shrunk and the watches never worked, but gee did I love that trip”.

As well as that initial educational, Jones’ other career highlights included starting Andrew Jones Travel and then later founding Magellan alongside Kevin Dale and Trevor Jones, with CEO Andrew Macfarlane joining not long after. “Our timing was impeccable. But for the business to succeed many components had to fall in place; it was more than just the four of us needed to ensure its success,” he said. Jones hailed the support of the founding members of the group, who took the bold step to move away from their existing franchise groups and join Magellan. “And the founding suppliers, we wouldn’t be here without you guys. I’ll never forget a day in Sydney when I went around to many of the key suppliers with my hand out, saying ‘this is our idea, will you give us 10 or 20 thousand to get this business off the ground’, and many of them did”.

He concluded by assuring Magellan members that under the group’s ownership by Helloworld “you are in safe hands”. The departing chairman noted that over the six months since the deal was settled HLO had delivered on everything it had promised. “I have known Andrew Burnes for a long time. He is a fantastic CEO and he is genuinely committed to you, the agents. He gets it, and they will continue to deliver. I’m sure you have seen plenty of evidence of that over the last couple of days,” Jones said, adding: “Magellan is a great business, and in Andrew Macfarlane you have a great leader, well respected by suppliers and agents”.

Going forward, he said his involvement in the travel industry would be in the form of a luxury stay on his working farm, offering a free night to any of the members and suppliers in the room. “In return, I’ll be getting you to drench a sheep, bud a vine, and maybe deliver a newborn lamb”.

“I’ve absolutely loved every minute of serving you as your chairman. I’ll continue to follow Magellan closely, and when I sit back in a few years’ time and sample our first drop of Tassie Pinot I look forward to toasting the continued Magellan success.”