By KARRYON @karryontravel30 Mar 2017Skill up on all you need to know with bite sized travel news designed specifically to help you, the Travel Agent, be your best today and tomorrow. 1. Which Travel Agent do more Australians consider booking with? Flight Centre may not have been the most utilised Travel Agent for Aussie holiday bookings last year but it was definitely the one front of mind, according to a new study. Latest Roy Morgan research revealed that Flight Centre retained its popularity and brand awareness throughout 2016, with some 23.4 percent of Australians saying they would consider booking their next holiday through the group. The traditional model toppled online travel planner Bookings.com, which sat in second place with 13.6 percent of Aussies saying they’d consider booking with the online site. Read on 2. Whitsunday evacuations commence post-Cyclone Debbie The evacuation of thousands of tourists and resort staff stranded in the north east of Queensland has commenced, a few days after category four Cyclone Debbie slammed the region. According to reports, people on Hayman Island and Hamilton are among the first to be moved out of flooded areas, while those on Daydream Island are being asked to patiently wait it out until the weather clears. Authorities told media they are doing their best to assist stranded travellers but are fighting against bad weather in the aftermath of the ‘intense’ cyclone. Read on 3. Etihad Airways hands out free tablets & wi-fi to Trump the ban In what has now seemingly become a show of ‘one-upmanship’ in creatively getting around the electronics devices ban on U.S and U.K flights, Etihad Airways have gone step further to ease travellers concerns of being stuck without their beloved devices. Yep, the game just changed again. From the 2nd April, Etihad Airways will be handing out iPads and the use of free onboard Wi-Fi to use for their premium travellers on all U.S flights. Read on 4. Vietnam Airlines connects Sydney to Hanoi Sydneysiders can now bypass Ho Chi Minh and fly right into Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines’ new direct services to the city kicking off today. The three times weekly service is being operated by a Boeing 787-9, giving Aussies access to 85,000 seats to the popular Vietnamese city every year. According to Sydney Airport’s Managing Director and Chief Executive, Kerrie Mather, said the new service will meet demand for travel from Australia to Vietnam, which grew last year to more than 240,000 people. Vietnam Airlines General Manager Hung Truong said he was proud to launch the Hanoi-Sydney service, with the airline now offering 17 flights per week to Australia. 5. Embark on a South Africa adventure with Collette Collette is getting to take travellers to South Africa, with its first five-day tour in the country setting off from 2 September. The guaranteed departure will see holidaymakers take in South African highlights including a picturesque lagoon cruise to Kysna Heads; 4X4 vehicle into the thick of the forest; Dutch, French, and German heritage in Cape Town; and a tour of an ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn. Travellers will also see the indigenous gardens of Kynsna and undertake volunteer work through the Knysna Education trust. One of the special experiences includes lunch amongst the ancient milkwood trees and a visit to a remote village to present villagers with Hippo Rollers on behalf of the Collette Foundation. 6. INCENTIVE: WIN a famil ticket to South America Contours Travel is enticing Travel Agents to take part in its free Agent webinars on Mexico by giving them the chance to win a spot on a Contours Travel-hosted famil to South America in late 2017. Webinars begin on 31 March and run for 15 minutes every second Friday (second Thursday in April due to Easter) at 11.30am, beginning with a focus on the pulsating capital, Mexico City. For every five webinars Agents join, they will go into a draw to win a place on a Contours Travel-hosted famil to South America in late 2017. Click here to register and for webinar dates. 7. TTC’s Great Escape begins THIS WEEK! Over 100 Travel Agents will pack their bags and head overseas this week for The Travel Corporation’s Great Escape. The biggest-ever TTC incentive will see consultants split into groups, with each group exploring on a country or region through one of the company’s brands including China with Trafalgar, Switzerland with Insight Vacations, France with Uniworld, Malaysia and Thailand with Contiki and South Africa with Adventure World. Have fun guys! 8. Dame Joan Collins helps launch Uniworld’s new ship Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s newest Super Ship, the S.S. Joie de Vivre, set sail this week on its maiden voyage after a christening ceremony in Paris led by the ship’s Godmother, Dame Joan Collins. S.S. Joie de Vivre sets itself apart from other European vessels with a length of 125 metres, rather than the typical 135 metres. This makes it convenient for her to dock in the heart of Paris in the shadow of its most beloved landmark, the Eiffel Tower. The ship has two Royal Suites, eight Junior Suites, and 54 staterooms for a maximum capacity of 128 guests. The vessel’s interior features bright, colourful and classic design, and is fitted with an onboard spa called Club L’Esprit, as well as a pool with a hydraulic floor and a French Supper Club. Following the event, the S.S. Joie de Vivre embarked on its journey through Northern France along Uniworld’s Paris & Normandy itinerary, with unique programming in celebration of the highly anticipated launch. Sailings in 2017 run from 2 April to 27 December. 9. House of Travel celebrates 30 years ‘Baywatch Style’ Let’s talk about how good Prue Gallagher looks as Pamela Anderson! The House of Travel employee and her peers ditched the business attire for Batwatch gear last weekend to celebrate House of Travel’s 30th anniversary. Over 700 past and present House of Travel employees attended the 80’s themed dinner event at Auckland Viaduct Events Centre to commemorate the significant milestone. Over the past three decades, House of Travel has grown to include 74 retail outlets throughout New Zealand and has representation in every state in Australia. 10. New Caledonia Travel Connection on location The team at New Caledonia Travel Connection have just returned from a trip to the destination they know best for three full days of site inspections in Noumea, Bourail and the Isle of Pines. They then attended the annual ‘Rendezvous in New Caledonia Workshop’ organised by partner New Caledonia Tourism on Amédée Island, a short distance from the capital Noumea. The event was the perfect opportunity to introduce and update Australian Travel Agents about New Caledonia Travel Connection. According to Team Leader Natalia Machado, “New Caledonia is the sort of place you can explore in so many different ways. You can be adventurous and take part in all of the activities on offer. You can be independent by hiring your own car, follow one of our self-drive itineraries and mingle with the locals. Alternatively, you can relax and really disconnect on the pristine islands.” 11. Park Hotel Group roadshow comes to Australia Seven Park Hotel Group delegates are currently touring across Australia to promote the leading Asia Pacific hospitality group, holding a current portfolio of eleven properties in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan. The Road Show kicked off on Monday this week and is now in full swing after a luxurious industry lunch held at Doltone House Hyde Park in Sydney and continues with a series of events in Melbourne and Perth targeting retail and wholesale travel trade, MICE, corporate and airline representatives as well as the media. “It was a fantastic lunch and a great opportunity to meet the Park Hotel team and get more information on their current properties as well as their exciting new openings. They are certainly adding to Singapore’s hotel landscape, catering to all budgets,” said Sharon Lam, Area Director, Oceania, Singapore Tourism Board. 12. Qantas thanks you! Qantas’ latest digital platform – the Learning Hub – has been nominated for this year’s NTIA’s. Read below to find out more. When Qantas began talking about its new Learning Hub, which has forever changed the learning experience for thousands of agents, we all knew they were destined for success. And our intuitions have proven to be correct. Read on What are your thoughts on today’s travel news? Share your thoughts below. Other stories you may like STOP FIGHTING TOURISM: 3 sustainable ways to tackle over tourism HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY: Industry mums share heart-warming stories on travelling with kids ¡BACÁN! 5 Travel Agents are going to PERU!