Interview with Jeff Adam, Director of Sales at Down Under Answers|Africa Answers
Jeff Adam is an Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and Africa specialist, hailing from Adelaide Australia. Jeff moved to the USA prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games to promote travel Down Under. He has been instrumental in creating the travel industries most comprehensive training program for Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands, Papua and New Guinea titled the South Pacific Travel Symposium and went on to assist the Travel Institute (then called ICTA) in updating their Destination Specialist South Pacific program with pertinent travel information. His presentation style is both educational and entertaining, leaving all who attend excited at the prospect of traveling to Australia, New Zealand the South Pacific and Africa
Travel Research Online (TRO): What peaked your interest in travel? Why did you decide to pursue a career in this industry?
Jeff Adam (JA): After working in a few wineries and restaurants in Australia’s wine mecca, the Barossa Valley and neighboring McLaren Vale, it was the natural step to sell the experience, so I started as a travel agent with the South Australian Tourism Commission. Every day people came to me asking for a great trip day in the Barossa, and I would line them up with all my mates. My itineraries would read like this… “drop into see Ray Ward, he runs Wards Gateway Cellars outside Lyndoch. I taught his daughter to play tennis. Get in there before 11am because he doesn’t mind a port or two and he’ll be no good to you after a few. He’s a local legend though and will offer a great insight into Barossa history, he knows everyone. Then drop into the Lyndoch Bakery and buy some crusty German bread and “bienenstich”. It’s this amazing cake with custard on top and sliced almonds baked in honey. It makes me salivate just thinking about it! Then drop into Steiny’s butcher shop and get a stick of his garlic mettwurst and drive to Kellermeister for a picnic. Ask the winemaker Ralph Jones if you can try his Shiraz and sit on the picnic tables and take in the 180 degree view Lyndoch Valley views. Make sure you tell him Jeff sent you and Ralph will probably join you with a bottle of Sable which is a fabulous chocolate velvet dessert wine that goes great with that bienenstich…” and so it would go; matching people that show an interest with local mates who are interesting. That’s what makes travel fun!
TRO: How have your previous experiences in the travel industry prepared you for your current position as Director of Sales for Down Under Answers | Africa Answers?
JA: It hasn’t changed a great deal really. It’s all about customizing exciting itineraries for our travel agents that exceed their client’s expectations. On a daily basis, we are customizing quintessential experiences in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. We are like a match-maker of fun, where we connect clients with tourism products and people that make every vacation moment count.]
TRO: What type of experience is guaranteed through Down Under Answers? What should travel agents know in order to promote your services to their clients?
JA: Down Under Answers and Africa Answers has a core company belief in a very antipodean philosophy of “mateship”. We believe you should never let a “mate” down and by “mates” I refer to both “our travel agent partners and our supplier partners”, both Down Under and in Africa. So, while our reservations team will deliver on the promise of an exciting itinerary, the sales team will pitch in to help our agent mates get the sale across the line. We will do everything from three way calls with the agent and their client to conducting a private webinar on the itinerary to help make the sale. Our motto is to Make Africa and Antipodean Travel Easy, so being a MATE to our agents is simply a company guarantee.
TRO: You’ve played a huge role in educating the industry on South Pacific travel, even helping to create a comprehensive training program for Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands, Papua and New Guinea (South Pacific Travel Symposium) and going on to assist the Travel Institute (then called ICTA) in updating their Destination Specialist South Pacific program. How have you seen the industry’s interest in these destinations change throughout the years?
JA: With the advent of the internet there is an even greater need for travel agents to become Destination Specialists. With clients professing to be instant experts it takes an educated travel agent to get their respect. At Down Under Answers we are in the business of giving travel agents the edge in that first meeting with a client. Attending our webinars is one of the secrets to staying one step ahead of the internet.
TRO: Down Under Answers and Africa Answers run a monthly webinar series. What is included in the webinar, and why should an agent be interested in attending?
JA: Our webinars are a healthy mix of education and fun. The true personality of the destination shines through and we offer agents information that their clients can’t necessarily find on the web. As our name suggests, for Down Under and Africa, we give agents the Answers.
TRO: What, in your opinion, is the most unique aspect of Africa, Australia, New Zealand or South Pacific travel that most agents or consumers aren’t aware of?
JA: Well, the most unique aspect of our long-hall destinations is the widely held belief that the flight to get there isn’t fun. I think the source of this misconception is that domestically in the US airlines have found unique ways in which to inflict pain into our lives. So, the average person takes that harrowing experience of a one hour flight between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and multiplies it by the fourteen hours to fly to Australia. Nothing could be further from the truth. The international airlines that service Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Africa too are ten times the experience of a domestic flight. The flight truly is where the fun starts!
TRO: Your company has created three social networking sites made available to travel agents looking to connect with the industry. What social networking tools are provided on these sites, and how are they beneficial to travel agents?
JA: Australia by Aussie Specialists was our first social networking site where travel agents can directly interact with regional tourism boards, airlines, hotels and tourism operators. There are reviews, photos, videos, music and a forum where agents can ask questions and get the answers from the industry. It’s like Tripadvisor for travel agents, but the difference is the answers come from people who really know. Owing to their popularity, we have built two other sites, New Zealand by Kiwi Specialists and Africa by Africa Specialists. We seek to provide our agents with every chance to impress their clients.
TRO: The Down Under Tourism Exchange program is happening in June 2015. Why should travel agents be interested?
JA: Well, in June this year we are taking the Top 60 Travel Agents to Australia for a Post-ATE Down Under Tourism Exchange where they will meet 60 Top Australia tourism suppliers. This is a truly unique opportunity for agents to engage with our Aussie mates who, on a daily basis, are delivering on the promise of a memorable Australia experiences for their clients. Supported by Tourism Australia and all the State and Territory Tourism Boards of Australia, Down Under Answers will also offer a variety of Australia familiarization experiences.
TRO: If you could describe your journey in travel in one sentence, what would you say?
JA: That the travel industry is an amazing journey, best shared with good mates!