What a night, what a night, what a night! Shout out to The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) for organising what was most definitely the biggest and craziest Gala Dinner in the NTIAs history.

What a night, what a night, what a night! Shout out to The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) for organising what was most definitely the biggest and craziest Gala Dinner in the NTIAs history.

That’s right, thousands of industry friends and colleagues gathered at the International Convention Centre in Sydney last night to celebrate all things beautiful and travel.

There was no shortage of absolute hotness last night as all the men looked like they belonged on the cover of GQ Magazine with their fitted suits and handsome bow ties, while the women should have graced the covers of Vogue because WOW those dresses, hairdos and heels were Hollywood-worthy.

Looks aside, the 2017 Gathering was definitely one to remember thanks to extra legroom in a much larger venue compared to 2016, enthusiasm all-round and of course, Ricki-Lee!

For those who missed out, have no fear, we hear there’s already plans in place to make 2018’s Dinner even more epic. But until then, here were seven unforgettable moments from the 2017 industry night:


That Grecian Welcome

They may not have been gorgeous men in togas but the women and men greeting attendees upon entry were equally as eye-catching in what many didn’t realise to be Greece’s traditional clothing.

The conservative and colourful style was both a learning experience and a unique opening to the evening.

Shout out to Greece’ National Tourism Organisation, the evening’s arrival sponsor, for the drinks, the music and the education.


“Long Live The Travel Agent”

Consultants received a royal proclamation last night because, well, you’re all Kings and Queens.

The efforts of those who sell and promote travel were recognised last night in a passionate speech delivered by the one and only, Jayson Westbury.

AFTA’s Chief Executive reinforced the importance of the Travel Agent, while assuring the audience of their healthy future.

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“There is no question that the Travel Agent of the future has a strong and prosperous future for decades to come,” Westbury said during the welcoming speech.

“AFTA is a strong voice of the Travel Agent and made stronger by the dedicated members who continue to support our efforts and we remain a force for good, a force for the future and a force to be reckoned with.

“Long Live the Travel Agent.”



Those Matilda selfies

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It’s a little random to have a kangaroo mascot at an awards night, but also freaking incredible!

Matilda darlin’ was a highlight of the evening as one of the most in-demand props for selfies.


Gotta love Qantas for bringing her along, if there was an award for best eyelashes of the evening, she’d have taken it.


Every time a flight was given away


The hall was never more quiet than when our lovely MC was either reading out those Star Alliance ticket numbers or when that Qantas Golden Ticket board was spinning.

Click here to check out the names of those Star Alliance winners and their prizes. Lucky ducks Jo and Christine won Economy tickets for two on Qantas’ forthcoming direct Perth-London services AND everyone’s new bestie Beth won BUSINESS CLASS tickets for 2 on the same flight.



When Helloworld’s Andrew and Cinzia made an appearance


Although they couldn’t be there in person, Andrew and Cinzia didn’t want to miss out on thanking the industry for acknowledging their efforts over the last year and helping the company take home the award for Best Travel Agency Group (50 stores or more).

They both gave a beautiful pre-recorded speech, which had half the room up on their feet.


Ricki-Lee baby!

Dayum! AFTA has done a lot of incredible things over the years but hiring Ricki-Lee to perform at last night’s awards was EVERYTHING!

The Australian singer had everyone ‘going crazy’ on the dance floor to a few of her catchy songs and other international hits.


But I’d personally never seen members of the industry jump so high until she absolutely slaughtered Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’.

Bring her back in 2018!!!!


And of course, every time a winner was announced


You could both hear and feel the love and support in the room every time someone won one of those highly coveted NTIA Awards.

Check out all of last night’s winners below:


1. Young Agent of the year – Millicent Rusby – Carlson Waggonlit, SA

2. Best Travel Consultant – Retail – Lena Neilson, Flight Centre Sydney Airport

3. Best Travel Consultant – Corporate – Alison Irwin, Stage and Screen, NSW

4. Best Registered Travel Industry Training Institution – The Learning Collaborative, Travel Training Australia

5. Best Hotel/Resort Group – Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

6. Best Tour Operator – Domestic – Contiki

7. Best Wholsaler – Australian Product – Sunlover Holidays

8. Best Travel Agency Manager – Retail Single Location – pDanny Englman, FBI Travel, VIC

9. Best Travel Agency Manager – Corporate Single Location – Cherie Drummond, Corporate Travel Management, NSW

10. Best Travel Agency Manager – Retail Multiple Location – Stuart Ingram – Destination HQ, VIC

11. Best Travel Agency Manager – Corporate Multi Location – Andre Moten, Corporate Travel Management, QLD

12. Best Domestic Airline – Virgin Australia

13. Best Car/Campervan Rental Operator – Hertz

14. Best Travel Agency Retail – Single Location, FBI Travel

15. Best Travel Agency Retail Multi Location – Phil Hoffman Travel, SA

16. Best Tour Operator – International – Topdeck Travel

17. Best Wholesaler – International Product – Qantas Holidays

18. Best Cruise Operator – Domestic Deployment – Royal Caribbean International

19. Best Sales Executive – Industry Supplier – Elizabeth Hutchinson – Air New Zealand

20. Best Agency Support Service – Cover-More Travel Insurance

21. Best Tourist Office – International – 100% Pure New Zealand

22. Best International Airline – Offline – Finnair

23. Best International Airline – Online – Emirates

24. Best River Cruise Operator – APT

25. Best Cruise Operator – International Deployment – Royal Caribbean International

26. Best Travel Agency – Corporate Single Location – Spencer Travel

27. Best Travel Agency – Corporate Multi Location – Goldman Travel

28. Best Business Events Travel Agency – The Events Authority

29. Best National Travel Management Company – Corporate Travel Management

30. Best Travel Agent Technology Innovation – TASA Travel and Sports Management

31. Best Travel Writer – Julie Miller

32. Young Sales Executive – Industry Supplier – Stephanie Hu, Fantasea, NSW

33. Best Online Travel Agency – TripADeal

34. Best Speciality Wholesaler – Wendy Wu Tours Australia

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35. Emirates Travel Consultant Scholarship – Stefania Lasek, Travel by Design, NSW

36. People’s Choice: ATAS Retail Travel Agency of the year
– Kingscote Travel, Travellers Choice, SA

37. Best Non-branded Travel Agency Group – Magellan Travel Group

38. Best Travel Agency Group (50 Stores or more) – Helloworld Travel


Congratulations to all the winners and see you all in 2018!

What was the highlight of the 2017 NTIAs for you?