Mark Spurway recently made the move to become a Mobile Travel Advisor and says he has been blown away with the ease of the process and support he has received during these crazy COVID-times. We caught up with him to find out more.
With the travel industry changing at a rapid rate, now could be the perfect time to consider alternatives to ensure your business is in the best possible place to ride out the storm. This is exactly what Mark Spurway did when he decided to make the move to MTA. Mark moved his existing cruise business to MTA just as COVID-19 hit and says that ‘taking the leap to go mobile was a move that has certainly paid off.’
Mark says that he has been pleasantly surprised at the amount of support from the business and community of 400+ MTA agents, plus the training and regular product updates that MTA offers through its in-house training department. The low overheads of going mobile has lessened financial stresses and allowed Mark to keep his existing business up and running, despite border closures and travel restrictions. Mark has even made a few advance bookings for 2021 and 2022… because who doesn’t need a nice holiday to look forward to right now. Let’s find out more about Mark, his views on travel and why he made the transition to MTA – Mobile Travel Agents.
How long have you worked in travel, Mark? Can you share with us your industry experience and background?
I have always had a fascination with travel. In my early 20’s I took a break from my career in radio to join Qantas as an international flight attendant for 3 years at a time when Qantas only flew international routes that were many and varied. I returned to my ‘real’ job in radio, and when I left my broadcasting career more than 3 years ago I decided to get serious about joining the travel industry.
I went back to University and studied Travel and Tourism at Torrens University. This was a diploma course developed in collaboration with the Flight Centre Group. After finishing my studies I was placed in one of the Flight Centre stores to learn the retail side of the business.
As a cruise expert, how many cruises have you done and what do you love about cruising? What are some of your cruise highlights?
Cruising is a very exciting travel experience and talking about it comes naturally to me as I love ships of all shapes and sizes. In the last 6 years, I have been on 14 cruises ranging from 2 nights to 21 days.
I particularly like ocean cruising and sea days that get me into the relaxation groove. A highlight was cruising through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal, and last year going to Iceland and Norway. Closer to home the New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries are also pretty special and convenient.
What and where was your business before you joined MTA – Mobile Travel Agents? Can you tell us about it?
When I was at Flight Centre I was approached by a couple of clients who had a group travel business called Tourisma and wanted to expand the travel base to include independent travel and cruising.
I joined them as a Director in 2019 and the business was really kicking goals and going very well until COVID struck.
What was it that prompted you to make the move over to MTA – Mobile Travel Agents?
I guess over the past few months, as the travel industry came to a virtual standstill, I started to consider the future and if our business in its current form would be viable enough for the three of us to continue.
I had always been aware of the home-based travel agent model and decided to do some research and talk to some friends and colleagues who were home-based.
A couple of friends were long time and successful MTA agents, so I started seriously looking at MTA as a future perfect fit for me. I have always loved the Virtuoso product offerings so that was appealing too.
What was the ‘transition’ experience like moving over to MTA – Mobile Travel Agents?
Jackie Pennock, the NSW BDM is an MTA treasure. She spoke with me on several occasions about what MTA could offer both in support and services. I put in my application and am grateful it was accepted.
For me, the transition was seamless and efficient, particularly in the systems set up stage with Carolyn Iacono providing great support.
How has the training and support been?
In the COVID mode, training has been challenging as I prefer face to face contact, but Jackie and the MTA support team have been coping very well in the ZOOM and Microsoft Teams environment. They are always available to assist and support me as I navigate the MTA back-office systems.
How have you found the overall experience so far?
I am easing my way in during these early days. In a strange way, COVID has proven to be a circuit breaker and provided time for me to develop more skills and training in the cruising sector and Virtuoso products.
What are the key differences being with MTA versus previous that you’ve experienced?
There are 3 key differences I have experienced;
- Great product offerings.
- All the tour operators and suppliers I have spoken with hold MTA and their agents in high regard, and
- Being a home-based travel advisor has provided me with more freedom and flexibility than I ever had.
What would you say to anyone else considering making a move?
I honestly believe the ‘home-based’ model is the future for the travel agent business. As we see the bricks and mortar retail travel stores diminish in numbers, customers are seeking ‘one to one’ long term travel relationships with advisors.
If you have a client base that trust and respect your advice take the opportunity to seek out MTA to future proof your business.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about MTA?
MTA – Mobile Travel Agents is a travel company with a very solid background and regarded highly by the industry and suppliers.
Where’s the first cruise you’ll go on post-COVID?
I have two (optimistically) in mind with some clients as well. Cruising around New Zealand, hopefully in the New Year, and a great trip across the Pacific through Hawaii and Tahiti later in 2021.
If you’re interested in moving an existing business or starting up with MTA, the process is easy, flexible, and tailor-made to you – get in touch with one of superstar recruitment team on 1300 682 000 or find out more here.