TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN STORIES give you an insight into many of the local businesses and characters you will find when you Escape to Tamborine Mountain.
OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO – TRAVELLING PLACES
Even in such a beautiful place as Tamborine Mountain, it can be hard to resist the wanderlust call of adventure. Not to worry, though— Gina Storey of Travelling Places has you covered. For 30 years last week (at time of writing) this local travel agency has been sending residents on the holidays of their dreams and bringing them back again to share their stories with the community. Today it’s Gina’s turn to tell us her tale.
by Kyle Hitchmough
How did you get started with Travelling Places?
I was in the travel industry in England, and I moved from London to the mountain. There wasn’t a travel agency up here, so I decided I’d start one and see how it went. The first person to walk in booked a round-the-world ticket and I thought “This is going to work!”
What’s the most popular destination you’ve noticed in your time here?
I always say we do anything from a bus trip to Beenleigh to first class around the world, anything and everything. We do a lot of Europe, a lot of North America, adventure, holidays, domestic, a whole range of things.
The travel industry was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. How did you handle that?
It was a complete nightmare. It shut down the industry but we kept going all the way through. A couple of staff members left, though luckily I didn’t have to let anyone go. Renee and I stayed and helped people to sort out bookings that they’d had and rearrange things. Then we got very involved in domestic travel. We did things like charter planes and take people up into northern Queensland, we took a group walking in South Australia… lots of things. Now it’s bounced back enormously. Everybody wants to get out!
Do you travel? Is it important for a travel agent to travel themselves?
Yes, I’ve travelled all my life – here, West Africa, New Zealand, the States, England… Travel is in my blood, always has been. It’s important to travel, because you need to explain to clients what the pros and cons of different destinations are, different little tips and things.
Do you have a favourite destination personally?
No! Too hard to say. I love all different places for all different reasons. I think it’s a matter of finding out what the inspiration for that particular trip is and then marrying what people are trying to achieve to a destination.
Do you often get feedback from your clients on their trips?
A lot of clients come back and tell us how their trip went, and we encourage that! We often ring people and ask them, and because we’re in a small community, there’s a lot of interaction. It’s important for us to get the feedback too because then that helps us help other people.
Do you offer package deals, and are those the primary way you do business? Or is the approach often more customised?
People do walk in and just buy a package, but a lot of the trips that we organise are quite involved. There might be a package at the core of it, and then people add on to that or vary it. We do a lot for people that are doing extensive trips and have some idea of what they want when they walk in, but not necessarily the full plan. That’s what we help them do.
It was Travelling Places’ 30th anniversary recently, correct?
We had a party last week! I thought 20 people might show up, but I think we had about 70 in the end, which was great fun! We have clients all over the place, which was lovely. A few of our suppliers that we collaborate with came up to help celebrate too, so it was a fun evening.
You actually have an office dog, correct?
Audrey’s our office mascot. Everybody loves Audrey! They all come in and have a chat. She’s only 20 months old, and she’s fun to have in the office.
You also produce a unique calendar. Can you tell us more about that?
Every year, we run a competition with all our clients to send in their travel photos, and then twelve are chosen and we make a calendar out of them. This year we printed 6000 and they were all distributed free of charge to all the households on the mountain.
Are there any particular trends in your clientele?
Traditionally, we’ve had a lot of retirees, we still do, but I think because the demographics in the area are changing. We’re now dealing a lot with families and younger people, which is fun. That’s a different sort of trip and a different environment. We’ve got some pretty exciting older clients too! People who are helicopter hiking in Iceland when they’re 80. Age isn’t necessarily a barrier!
Are you a local? What’s your opinion on the Tamborine Mountain area and community?
I’ve lived here since 1991, so… almost a local! I love it. My children have grown up on the mountain. It’s a lovely environment to live in, nice people, village life.
What do you think Travelling Places really provides to the area?
I think we’re another service where people don’t have to go off the mountain to find a travel agent. They can use somebody local, they can get to know us very well, we get to know them, and so we can offer the old-fashioned personalised service that’s caring and thoughtful about what they want to do.
What do you enjoy most about doing this?
Seeing people happy! It’s a good job, dealing with people who are arranging their treats. We’re always dealing with people who are in a really good, positive frame of mind. It’s fun!
What’s been your most memorable moment in your time here?
I did have a funny story where some clients came back from a trip to Europe and said “You won’t believe it! We’re standing on the bow of this boat and going into Venice, and we can hear these people further up the boat saying ‘Gina’s done it again! Look, there’s our hotel!’” They walked up and said, “You don’t happen to know Gina from Travelling Places on Tamborine Mountain?” They were both clients who had booked through me and didn’t realise they were on the same ship and staying in the same hotel!
Is there anything else you’d like to go on the record?
During COVID, we were invited to join a group called Virtuoso, which was great. They’re the top 1% of travel agents in the world. It contracts fantastic hotels and different things all over the world and our clients get benefits from booking through us at Virtuoso hotels. It’s very exciting.
Travelling Places 24 MAIN ST, TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN, QLD 4272
Tamborine Mountain has everything you need to create an awesome experience!!