NTIAs shake things up, all night long

It’s often said that a change is as good as a holiday, but for the amazing, hard-working people in the travel industry it must have felt like a little of both as the NTIAs dazzled in the first awards to be hosted in Melbourne for many years last Saturday. While there were a few brands that enjoyed more accolades than others, the buoyant mood was palpable among everybody as they let their hair down for a well-earned night of celebration and recognition. Adam Bishop donned his Sunday best (a slightly too tight-fitting tux) and applied liberal amounts of hair wax to report on all of the glory.

There were many winners at ATIA’s National Travel Industry Awards (NTIAs) last weekend but let me assure you humble reader, there were definitely no losers, as the who’s who of travel attended the gala event at the Palladium at Crown Melbourne and danced the night away through a haze of sparkling wine and collegial industry banter.

Close to 1,300 people attended the star-studded gathering in Melbourne sponsored by Singapore Airlines, marking a departure from Sydney as the long-standing host destination.

Reflecting on the big night in the Garden City, ATIA CEO Dean Long said the NTIAs 2023 was “truly a night to remember”.

“It was so exciting returning to Melbourne this year and to be able to celebrate with all of the incredible travel professionals that make our industry so special,” Long enthused.

“Events of the scale the NTIAs 2023 celebration do not just happen and on behalf of everyone I thank the hardworking ATIA team and the generous support of our sponsors for helping us realise our vision for this event.”

“Our vibrant travel community is our greatest strength and through events like the NTIA we will continue our focus on harnessing the skills and expertise across our network to benefit our industry, our clients and our businesses,” Long added.

Between the awards, clearly pliable entertainer Kristy Stellar kept guests entertained with her unique pole dancing acrobatics, while Australian TV and radio loyalty, Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann, played host, injecting plenty of fun travel gags into the mix to keep the mood light and the audience chuckling.

When it came to the winners, Flight Centre Travel Group had a particularly memorable night, walking away with the highly coveted ‘Most Outstanding Travel Agency Group’ award, as well as ‘Outstanding Employee Engagement and Recruitment Program’. The business also produced a particularly heart-warming win for its luxury Travel Associates arm, which saw a beaming Louis Teng earn himself a place in NTIA glory by scoring the ‘Most Outstanding Travel Consultant – Leisure’ gong.

When accepting the award, a gushing Teng admitted he was so excited despite not expecting to be a winner on the night.

“[FCTG] is a great company to work with and I didn’t think I would ever be up on that stage but I’m so spoiled and feel so much love,” he said.

Corporate Travel Management (CTM) was another company with painted-on grins all night, earning themselves an amazing double win after being awarded ‘Most Outstanding Global Travel Management Company’ and ‘Sustainability Award – Business’.

CEO Australia and New Zealand, Greg McCarthy, said that winning the awards was humbling for a Brisbane-based company that is enjoying such a rapid rise in growth and success.

“Over the last few years CTM has been very strong in our presence in the Australian market, we’ve grown globally very quickly, but to win the inaugural global TMC award is pretty special for us,” McCarthy said.

Travellers Choice chief Christian Hunter was another man with plenty of swagger on the night, with his Travellers Choice business swooping in on the sought-after ‘Most Outstanding Non Branded Agency Group’ award, adding to packed trophy cabinet in recent years.

In accepting the honour, Hunter said he cherished the role his company plays in supporting the blood, sweat and tears of diligent independent travel agents.

“This is the third consecutive NTIA in which Travellers Choice has been honoured as Australia’s top agency group, which means we are now consistently re-setting the industry benchmark when it comes to supporting Australia’s independent travel agents,” Hunter said.

“For the small but hard-working Travellers Choice team who deliver those support services, this year’s award is a hard-earned and much-deserved accolade.

“Importantly, for those independent travel agents out there who are considering joining a national network, or reconsidering their current consortia arrangements, it’s another reason to speak to Travellers Choice – let’s start that conversation,” he spruiked in excitement.

Other honourable mentions need to go to Viking for taking out the ‘Most Popular Cruise Operator’ honour, Uniworld for taking out the ‘Most Popular River Cruise’ category, and Virgin Australia for being declared ‘Most Popualr Airline – Online’ in a field which did not include Qantas this year.

Another gong that garnered plenty of predictive chatter on the ballroom floor was the ‘People’s Choice’ accolade, populated by a hot field of high-profile contenders including Abercrombie & Kent and Clean Cruising, but it was ultimately Trafalgar that scored the top honour on the night.

MD for the brand, Toni Ambler, accepted the crowd-pleasing award, which must be a great omen for the success ahead over the next 12 months for the operator.

While there were many, many more amazing winners to mention, it would be remiss of us not to doff our pointy, two-horned cap to the afterparty, which was sponsored by Viking and had the jubilant crowd drinking the night away (responsibly), and saying ‘cheers’ to an amazing year of travel, with many, many great nights still to come.

For the full list of winners CLICK HERE.

And for all the pics from the big night CLICK HERE.

Subscribe To travelBulletin