MEGAN Larsen-Smith

Supplier Relations Manager

Travel Counsellors

1. What does your role involve and how long have you been in your current position?

I’ve been at Travel Counsellors for four months now. My role was created with the intention of transforming partnerships with suppliers and to help grow Travel Counsellors’ overall presence in the Australian travel industry.

I’m a big believer in right place, right time and the opportunity to make a difference at Travel Counsellors presented itself, so I jumped at it. I’m so glad I did too, because I am having a ball in this role.

2. How did you start out in your career? Were you always destined to work in the travel industry?

Truthfully, I never knew what I wanted to do during school. I worked a number of jobs and did different courses. I worked for Telstra, which involved hosting events works at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. That same year, I did my first international trip and saw snow for the first time ever, and it was around then that I knew I wanted to make a career out of seeing and exploring the world.

3. Did you complete formal qualifications, and do you think they are important?

I completed a Diploma in Event Management and Advance Diploma in Tourism. I am a very hands-on person — I did all my study though TAFE, which I believe prepares you really well for the work-force. I think any kind of qualifications are important, because I know for me what I studied has certainly helped me.

4. What do you love about your job?

The people I meet and the relationships I build. Every day is different and I love getting out and about, getting results and exceeding targets. My own set of values is what attracted me to Travel Counsellors. I believe so fully in the model — the power of personal relationships to drive repeat and referral business between agents and their customers. In any industry — but particularly the travel industry — relationships are so important.

5. What were some of the greatest challenges you’ve had in your career?

I’ve had to move around a number of different companies to advance my career. Relocating can be tough, but every decision to do so has paid dividends for me.

6. What factors were central to your success?

Relationships — never burning any bridges! You never know when those connections you have previously made will help you. Being motivated, positive, tackling challenges head on and always being willing to learn has also been very important in my career development.

7. Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did you find them?

My first mentor was my Director of Sales in my earliest BDM role in hotels. Now and more recently it is my former boss at Etihad Airways, who was actually instrumental in me moving into this new role at Travel Counsellors. And my newest mentor is our Regional MD Kaylene Shuttlewood and one of the main reasons for my move to Travel Counsellors.

8. What are the keys to good business?

Honesty, good follow up and always providing what you say you are going to. Relationships are so important to maintain in business.

9. What advice would you give to others in the industry who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t feel you have to have a university degree to be successful in this industry, if you are more of hands-on learner like me, there are some excellent TAFEs out there, who provide really helpful vocational courses that you can apply straight away. Make sure you are passionate about what you do, as there is nothing better than working in a career and industry that you love. I feel very lucky that I have been able to.

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