Australia’s second-largest domestic airline Virgin Australia said they were “thrilled” to have won Best Domestic Airline at this year’s National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA’s).
Virgin Australia’s Head of Global Industry Sales and Operations Paula Donaldson said the accolade confirmed their trade partners appreciated the support their sales team provides.
She said it had been an exciting 12 months for the airline with the launch of their international lounge network and the launch of an expanded New Zealand offering.
You can read our full interview with Paula below.
What does being recognised by the industry in this way mean to you?
We’re thrilled to have received this recognition. It confirms that our valued trade partners appreciate the support our Sales team provides and recognise the efforts we go to work collaboratively and ensure their business is successful.
We’re dedicated to continuing to provide an outstanding product and exceptional service to our joint customers, and this award also acknowledges that.
What are some little or big touches you and the team make to ensure you leave a positive impression on agents/clients?
We always strive to be accessible from all levels of our sales team, from our senior leaders and account managers, through to our industry support team, and we ensure that we have the right tools to support our trade partners and clients.
What are some changes the brand has made over the last year that would have contributed to your success this year?
In the past 12 months, we’ve made several enhancements to our product and service offering, as well as the customer experience.
Some examples include the launch of our international lounge network, which includes three international lounges located in Australia (in partnership with No1 Lounges) and four international lounges located in New Zealand.
We’ve also ramped up our New Zealand offering with the launch of two new routes across the Tasman: Melbourne to Queenstown and Sydney to Wellington.
In addition to these new routes, we also added extra services across several of our key Australia to Auckland routes, and launched a seasonal service between Newcastle and Auckland.
All our Tasman (and international short-haul) fares now include a meal, drink, up to 23kg checked baggage, and access to inflight WiFi, making us the only airline to offer inflight WiFi across the Tasman.
To further improve our onboard retail offering for guests, we’ve transformed our retail offering on our domestic and international short-haul services to include a wider selection of food and beverage items.
We’ve also enhanced our self-service kiosks to improve the check-in experience for guests.
The expansion of our international network and our alliance partnerships has also contributed to our success this year, and most certainly, our valued relationships with all of our agency groups have allowed us to establish a preferred partnership with all industry brands across Australia.
What would you recommend to other brands hoping to win in future years?
The people behind your outstanding product is the key to success! It’s not only about your product, but the support and the ‘extra mile’ your people are willing to go which builds long term success.
How important is your organisation to the industry?
We are the second biggest domestic airline in Australia which ensures healthy competition is established across both the leisure and corporate markets.
Internationally, we are expanding our network and alliance partnerships to ensure we can connect our guests to all parts of the world.
What do you love about the industry?
It’s an exciting, fast-paced industry that’s constantly changing and growing, and we love being a part of it!
Whether it be transporting corporate travellers to meetings or connecting leisure travellers to family, or simply a much needed holiday! We strive to really make a difference and establish long-lasting memories for our guests.
What do you think the future holds for the travel industry?
The future looks bright for the aviation industry. With global passengers numbers predicted to double in the next 20 years, as an airline we’ll continue to evolve with the industry as it changes and in line with the wants and needs of our customers.
What’s your advice for people thinking of joining the industry?
Our industry is exciting and extremely diverse.
There are many varied roles available within the many different aspects of the industry, whether it’s in airlines, tour companies, cruising, retail, corporate or hospitality.
If you are passionate about what you do and work hard to achieve your goals, there are endless opportunities for development and career progression within this industry.
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