Av is benefits tassie mta member
The latest Avis Travel Agent Scholarship winner Belinda van Tholen talks to Nathalie Craig about how this prestigious award is giving a regional Tassie travel agent incredible industry exposure.
A little girl from Tassie doesn’t have those connections without these sort of industry supporting awards’ Belinda van Tholen, MTA Avis Travel Agent Scholarship winner
Launceston-based MTA consultant Belinda van Tholen was “blown away” when her name was called as the winner of the 2015 Avis Travel Agent Scholarship in November last year. “There’s an incredible photo of me with my head in my hands which just explains everything I felt in that moment,” she told travelbulletin when speaking about scooping the sought-after prize valued at $45,000. Van Tholen received two return Qantas business class tickets to New York with six nights in Manhattan, a tour of the Avis World Headquarters and a scholarship from Southern Cross University together with 12 months professional coaching from Polonious Resources and more perks from CLIA Australasia and AFTA. The award is given to an outstanding travel agent who is selected through a detailed written application before answering questions in front of a panel of judges about the way they run their business and deal with their clients. “To have the backing of that award means people recognise my name,” van Tholen smiles. “It’s a conversation starter and an amazing leg up”. For her, one of the most exciting aspects is serving on the board of Avis this year with “industry greats”. The board discusses the big issues affecting both Avis and the travel industry as a whole. “It’s my first experience on a corporate board and it’s just amazing to see how it works at that level,” she says. Van Tholen said the opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without the backing of her company MTA which provides her with the support to work from her home in Tasmania. “I’d never even heard of the scholarship in my previous agency. It’s just a very forward thinking agency”. The award isn’t the only major accolade the rising star has received recently either. She was also selected as a finalist for Virtuoso Most Innovative Advisor worldwide in 2015. “In July I wasn’t even going to Virtuoso Travel Week but the nomination landed in my inbox in June and it was in August. Suddenly I’m going to Vegas,” she recalls. “A little girl from Tassie doesn’t have those connections without these sort of industry supporting awards.” “You don’t usually get the opportunity to make these connections living rurally”. She says the recognition really feels like “the start of something” and is using the opportunities it brings to further her knowledge, connect, build relationships and see where it lands her.