DANCING FREDDIES: Everything that went down at the TravelManagers Conference

What did you get up to the weekend that just passed? You may have heard that some 345 TravelManagers & their supplier friends were up in Perth having a pretty epic time. No seriously, there was a lot of wine.

What did you get up to the weekend that just passed? You may have heard that some 345 TravelManagers & their supplier friends were up in Perth having a pretty epic time. No seriously, there was a lot of wine.

Jokes aside, the 12th annual TravelManagers Conference was quite the success with everyone walking away with headaches. Yes, they were from the Gala Night BUT they were also from all the new information picked up over the three days.

Read on for everything that went down at this year’s conference.




It just wouldn’t be a TravelManagers Conference without a hilarious opening (hilarious for the crowd, incredibly nerve-wracking for the performers), and 2019 was no exception.

Consultants were welcomed to the Crown Towers conference centre with a traditional indigenous song before ‘Proof the Band’, a Queen tribute group, got everyone up on their feet just as they had finally sat down to kick off the conference.

The morning didn’t start to ‘rock’ until Michael Gazal, Joe Araullo and the rest of the National Partner Office (NPO) drew on false moustaches and slipped on white singlets for a couldn’t-tear-my-eyes-away performance to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

They didn’t just look like rock stars, they looked like legends (yes, that’s a slightly modified Freddie Mercury quote).


Bums back on seats and it was time to actually begin the formalities with Tourism Western Australia’s Nathan Harding. The Chairman spoke of how the “little old” city is undergoing a once-in-a-100-year transformation and is practically a new destination.

De-Freddied Joe Araullo (House of Travel Chief Executive) and Michael Gazal (TravelManagers Executive General Manager) officially welcomed consultants to the 12th annual gathering by discussing achievements over the last 12 months and reinforcing the company’s commitment to mental health.

Personal Travel Managers (PTMs) were then introduced to their next best friend over the next three days, Amanda Stevens, and it’s not only because she handed out Kit Kats. The marketing expert spoke about the future of the customer experience and offered countless tips on how to improve relationships, reach new clients and secure future bookings.

Amadeus’ Robin Woods spilled on the reasons Travel Advisors will love the NDC before PTM Maria Pandalai explained why her customers consider her the ‘perfect PTM’ (FYI, she wasn’t running around bragging, she had video proof of her clients and their love).


Hilarities returned to the stage with the emergence of the team from the World’s Leading Cruise Lines who stripped on stage. Literally. Lance from Carnival Cruise Line was all about those swimmer briefs and it definitely left an impression. As did those free cruises each of the lines gave away.

Once clothes were back on bodies (or at least, Lance off stage), attendees were able to redirect their attention to PTM Neil Saunders who talked about his relationship with customers before House of Travel’s Director Carlee Paterson made everyone cry with a TVC that’s changing the way travellers see Travel Agents.

PTM Carli Hester pushed passed the nerves to deliver a beautiful and informative talk on why customer service is a dying part of the business, while Qantas’ Peter O’Donohue went through the ins and outs of what makes the Flying Kangaroo’s 787s so special.


As day one formalities came to a close, PTMs were already considering their outfits for Perth’s funky Embargo bar where they enjoyed a never-ending supply of canapes and cocktails.

CLICK HERE for all the images from Day 1 of the TravelManagers Conference.




Some woke up for a peaceful (and so sunny) stroll along the Swan River, some went to the gym, while others slept off a hangover.

Either way, they were all in the Crown Towers Ballroom by 8.45am for a compulsory (but totally worth peeling yourself out of bed for) workshop with bestie Amanda Stevens.


The marketing expert (who BTW was there all three days) delved into the importance of improving the customer journey by easing the pain points. She had PTMs making notes on ways they can improve their interaction with clients before encouraging them to find their muse.

Then it was time to get their ‘steps’ up by heading over to the Grand Ballroom where suppliers were patiently waiting with A TONNE of new content to pass on. Oh, and they had pretty wicked booths.

Like Oceania Cruises which had the BEST CHEESE EVER (my stomach loves you!)…


United was giving PTMs the chance to take a shot, literally…


While Topdeck laid out a very mini-game of Putt-Putt…


Collette had their world-famous (freshly baked mmmm) cupcakes…


And Qantas’ zone was just stunning…


Can’t fit all the pics here, so click here to check out a few more on Facebook.

Lunch came next, as did a whole bunch of prizes courtesy of the suppliers at this year’s conference.

Then it was time for PTMs to split into groups for a series of workshops. Among them was a delve into Tramada from former PTM Karin Tunbridge and a chat on marketing with TravelManagers’ Tania Myles and Marlene Lane which inspired everyone to start a blog.

CLIA’s Peter Kollar was also hosting a workshop on how consultants contribute to the ever-evolving cruise scene, while corporate PTMs talked all things business with Qantas and Ensemble Travel.


Then it was time for some grape-inspired fun.

PTMs loaded into buses and drove half-an-hour out of Perth to mix their own wine at Sandalford Vineyard.

Some were good and it, others not so much, but it was a good laugh (laughs that got louder as more wine was tasted).

CLICK HERE for all the images from the supplier sessions and the wine-mixing night.




As the sun rose, so too did the PTMs and they were pumped for the final day.

Back in the conference room, they kicked the day off with a private Plenary Session. Private meaning we weren’t allowed in and can’t report on what went down. So let’s move on.

Royal Caribbean’s Cameron Mannix came through with all the giant cruise ship news AND an INCREDIBLE performance of ‘Still Call Australia Home’.

WOW WOW WOW! The Royal Caribbean team in Australia don't just have giant ships, they have giant voices. We're still in awe of Cameron Mannix's performance at the TravelManagers Australia Conference in Perth over the weekend.

Posted by KARRYON on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Although it was a hard act to follow, PTM Alison Parker managed to do so while explaining why more Travel Advisors need to think of the clients as friends.

Then the mic was handed over to TravelManagers’ BPM for WA and SA Ali Banks who shocked everyone with Contiki’s old school training techniques before the crew from The Travel Corporation took the stage at the conference for the first time in eight years.

PTM Dom Cannon spoke of how crossing over from the red and black to home-based has resulted in him working “50 percent less and for the same reward”, while STUBA’s Mark Luckey left an unforgettable impression with his SUPER COOL superhero suite (and speech).

After a quick bite to eat, Amanda Stevens returned as the host of a panel on customer relations, which was followed by an update from APT and a talk from PTM Karen Murray on how she’s built trust with her customers.


Celebrity Charades returned for another year with Sue Denyer and Grant Gallagher who was looking… a little different (and a little like a kneeling Pru).

The presentation may have been missing but Intrepid’s Sarah Clark left PTMs with a desire to make a difference in the world after her quick update, before Love Your Sister’s Founder Samuel Johnson had everyone wanting to kick cancers butt.

With all the formalities wrapped up, it was time for Michael Gazal to take the stage again to announce the 2020 destination, which turned into a grand reveal of locations for 2020 AND 2021. Click here to find where they’re going (or just read the picture below).



PTMs ran upstairs to quickly shower and put on a formal frock so they could make an impression at the group’s annual Gala Night.


Best of the best within the business were awarded for their work ethic over the last 12 months, you can click here for the full list of winners.

Once all the awards were out, Proof the Band returned to the stage for a few more Queen tracks before the DJ took over.

CLICK HERE for all the images from the Gala Dinner.