Contiki took out the ‘Best Tour Operator – Domestic’ at this year’s NTIA 2017 Awards. So what’s the secret to their success? We asked them for the insider lowdown.

During her acceptance speech on the night, Managing Director Katrina Barry attributed Contiki’s success to the team behind the scenes “As the people that make the magic happen.”

Here’s more of what Katrina and the team had to say:


What does winning this award mean to you and the business?

Contiki feature

Contiki at Splendour In The Grass Festival, Bryon Bay

Katrina Barry, MD says “This award is such an incredible honor – the whole team is so chuffed and incredibly grateful. We do what we do to help young travellers have the time of their life, and just maybe go home a more well-rounded, better human. But it is fantastic to be recognised by the industry too, so a huge thank you to AFTA and the NTIA judging panel for this incredible honor.

This year Contiki celebrates two big birthdays, 55 years of Contiki trips in Europe and 35 years here in Australia, so it’s a timely recognition for the team of the amazing work they do.”


What was it do you think that helped you win this year?


Kirsten Bain, Contiki Head of Operations says “We pride ourselves on the experiences we provide our travelers and more than anything, the consistently high quality product we operate here in Australia.

We’re about real Aussie experiences, with real Aussies, in real settings; whether that be exploring Kakadu with accredited local guides, learning how to surf in Coffs Harbour, or staying on a cattle farm and having a roast dinner with the whole family in Central Queensland. We know large groups don’t have to mean diluted experiences or manufactured memories”

“One of the judges gave feedback that what set us apart though was the innovation journey we have been on over the last 3.5 yrs with our Australian trips. We’ve been focused on finding even more small businesses and local families to partner with to create some really unique experiences.

It’s been received really well by our customers and allows us to contribute to the tourism industry in a way that is unique to a large tour operator.”


Katrina Barry (MD), Grace Loader (Ops Co-ordinator), John Navarro (Ops Manager), Adam Zammit (Trip Manager), Kirsten Bain (Head Of Ops)

Supporting Indigenous Tourism – “We’re working in collaboration with Bob Taylor of Alice Springs. He is an indigenous, internationally trained chef who we are working with now to create a unique bush tucker experience in Alice Springs.

This will make another of several Indigenous owned and operated businesses Contiki partners with to provide authentic, local experiences that challenge the perception of our travellers on what Indigenous culture is and with reference to Bob, how a situation like the Stolen Generation can be turned into a positive outcome.”

Supporting Local Businesses – “From meeting our Trip Manager Hayley’s family friend in a picnic area in Port Macquarie to learn about and eat the humble lamington for morning tea on a drive day, to learning to eat Mrs Mac’s pies (the RIGHT way) in Cairns, Contiki seeks out 100% locally owned and operated businesses to provide clients with experiences that might seem ordinary to us, but are memorable and unintentionally educational to our young clients.”


How do you think the year ahead is looking so far?

Jake Contiki

“We are not stopping, we are continuing to forge ahead with innovations and improvements every year with our trips, and thanks to the support of our amazing travel agency partners here, and overseas, forward sales are looking very healthy, so we look forward to sharing Australia with many more 18-35 years olds over the coming year.”


Do you have any award winning tips you’d like to share to inspire other businesses to greatness?


“What is distinctive about Contiki, and our non-replicable competitive advantage, is our culture. This is driven by our “Awesome Team” strategy, which consists of lots of personal and professional development, and team-building activity for our office based staff and on-the-road team.

“This strategy comes from a team philosophy that Katrina is always driving: “Most companies say they put their customers first, but it’s really their shareholders. And their employees are always third.

Our leadership team here in Australia put our people first. If our people are personally and professionally happy – they’ll make our customers happy.  And happy customers make happy shareholders.”

What do you think about Contiki’s win? Join us in congratulating them on a job well done.