Meet MTA – Mobile Travel Agent, Sarah Fenton ·

Family background: Mother to three children aged 9, 10 and 50 (some may say married with two kids!)

What did you do before you joined MTA?  Helloworld Retail travel, Corporate Leisure Travel, teaching Tourism and Travel at TAFE, cruise ship guiding in Port of Newcastle (which I still do) Flight Centre Retail, Contiki Tour Director – Europe and before travel, a laboratory pathologist in Australia, the UK and Saudi Arabia.

When and why did you join MTA? Joined two years ago, wanting a more secure job but importantly one that fitted with school hours so that my children didn’t miss sport and have to stay in after-school care until 6.00 pm five days a week.

What do you like most about working as an MTA Member? I get to do what I want in my business when I want to – I can take my work to sports carnivals if I have to, I can have a weekend off if I need to and best of all, having total control over the outcome that my clients require – being responsible for everything I do suits my personality. My role also enables me to host seminars and information sessions, run travel EXPOS, guide cruise ships passengers sailing into the Port of Newcastle, attend networking events, etc, et. I can even manage the occasional sleep-in these days when my husband kindly looks after the school run.

Do you have a specialised area in travel? Cruise and Europe.

What’s one of your biggest personal achievements?  Being named the 2017 CLIA Home Based Agent of the Year in February this year.  A huge pat on the back.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt since starting as a home-based travel agent?  Your reputation is everything.  Be the most valuable asset your business has. The biggest and best way to get business is by word of mouth. Do what you do exceptionally well and never be afraid to ask for help, feedback and advice from those who know more than you.

What sets MTA apart from the rest? Back office support without a doubt. Fares and ticketing, product, legal advice is all on tap in volumes and for me, personal access to people who are great with graphics software and can help with facebook tiles, flyers and marketing material that I would have to pay a fortune for if I needed to do it myself. Add to this online training, systems and supplier plus thee 24/7 after-hours service. It’s a truly magnificent well-oiled machine.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it?   It’s all about relationships and being there for your clients always, not just when their wallets are opening – Nikki Tully, a former Contiki colleague.

Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry? I heard travel adviser Robyn Sinfield speak at CLIA 360 last year – great story of building up a business with hard work, persistence, smart ideas and the courage of conviction.

What destination is next on your travel bucket list? Africa.

What’s the most memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?  Too many – of both!

What three things do you always take with you when travelling? An SLR camera with a big zoom, antibiotics just in case and a good book to read by the pool. Wherever I go there will be a pool!!

Which famous person would you most like to travel with and where to? David Attenborough – and I would go wherever he was heading. His documentaries, the animals, the camera work – blow me away every time. And his storytelling – wow.

What do you find yourself doing on your weekends? Kids sport most Saturdays, baking with the kids, housework, and scrolling facebook events to see what’s on locally. Local festivals and events die without people attending so we try and do as much as we can. And usually a bit of work at night when the house is asleep!!

What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years? The online agencies will never disappear so as ‘real’ people providing a personal service we need to continually reinvent how we operate to ensure we are always in position to deliver those points of difference which OTAs are just not in position to deliver.

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