When things run smoothly they're seldom memorable - so it's the disastrous days that end up being my favourite stories. There's the time I went to the wrong airport in London, the time I lost my passport in the Cambodian post, the time I fell off a horse in Iceland, etc, but my favourite memory is when myself, my friend and two teachers from our school became stranded in a mountain village in Timor-Leste. On the way back to Dili after visiting our sister high school, we found that mudslides had blocked the only road. Stranded without phone service or any comprehension of Portuguese, the situation was quite jarring until local villagers realised our predicament and took us in for two nights until the road was cleared. We were offered plenty of food, shelter and kindness, all from people who had so little to give but still gave so freely. The hospitality of strangers is a priceless, life-affirming gift when received in such vulnerable moments. The experience encouraged me to travel solo after school, eventually leading to a career in travel. So... thank you mudslides!
What is your favorite travel memory?
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Since starting with INTRO I have grown into a more confident, resilient version of myself. I've always been extroverted and independent, but working as a Group Leader has really pushed me to be more relaxed in my own skin, assured that I will be able to solve whatever problem comes next. After all, that's life - problems arise, you solve them, rinse & repeat.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
It's amazing seeing the people I travel with on INTRO groups form life-long friendships, even across continents. Nothing fills my heart more than seeing people from the same trip catch up months or years later, even exploring new countries on reunion tours. The world is so much smaller than you think.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
If I was travelling Asia for the first time, I would ABSOLUTELY do the Epic Asia trip. It's 38 days of travel through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia - giving you an instant group of new buddies and the reassurance that you'll be looked after. INTRO's tours are really good at combining a bit of everything - adventure, food, culture, partying and chill time, so you get a taste of it all!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
I think what separates INTRO Travel from other tour providers is the authentic family atmosphere the company fosters with its employees, suppliers AND customers. Since my first job interview in Sydney I've felt completely at home, and as a full-time employee (as opposed to a contractor, which is how many other tour leaders are employed), I feel secure and cared for. I'm proud of the company as a whole, but especially of my Vietnam/Cambodia team because we truly support each other. In a tricky situation I could call any of my fellow group leaders for advice, knowing they'd be there for me. Even at 2:00am.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
A successful company needs to listen to its employees, especially the ones on the ground working face-to-face with the customers. When feedback from employees is not heard, companies fall behind when they could be growing. Thankfully, INTRO takes all of our opinions as Group Leaders very seriously, and is quick to implement changes we suggest. INTRO's continued growth proves what can happen when a company has an open, honest environment of communication.