Margot Windenburg is the Senior Sales Manager, North America for AAT Kings and has worked in tourism focusing on Australia and New Zealand for the better part of 20 years. She has held roles in the retail, wholesale and tour operator side of the travel industry and has traveled to the South Pacific 30+ times and has a great passion for the destination. Her favorite destination in Australia is sunny Tropical North Queensland and in New Zealand, the adventure capitol of Queenstown. To learn more about Margot and AAT Kings, read on.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You are currently the Senior Sales Manager for North America with AAT Kings. How long have you been with AAT Kings?
Margot Windenburg: I’ve been with AAT Kings for a little over a year.
TRO: You’ve been focusing on Australia and New Zealand tourism for almost 20 years. You must have a deep understanding of those countries, and how best to holiday in each?
Margot: Yes, everyone is different based on budget and personal interests. I definitely recommend people book with a specialist in the destination, if you are a travel agent interested in becoming a specialist in these wonderful destinations you can start here for Australia and here for New Zealand. Everyone has their own way of travel and wanted experiences. AAT Kings is a tour operator that offers a wide variety of touring throughout Australia and New Zealand, and there’s something available to suit all tastes and budgets. We offer day tours, independent Short Breaks, Guided Vacations which are large coach tours and our Inspiring Journeys which is small group (max 20) boutique guided touring.
TRO: Not only have you worked in Australia and New Zealand tourism for decades, you’ve traveled there over 30 times. What makes you have such a passion for these countries?
Margot: I love the indigenous cultures of both destinations, the people, wildlife, food and wine. I’ve been many times and there’s always something new and exciting to see, it never gets boring! I’m traveling there again next month and will be doing the Great Ocean Road following our Inspiring Journeys – Victoria’s Hidden Gems itinerary, an area in which I haven’t traveled to previously.
TRO: In your almost 20 years you’ve been on the retail, wholesale, and tour operator sides of the travel industry. How has this helped you get where you are now?
Margot: Having the background that includes retail, wholesale and tour operator in multiple roles anywhere from ticketing to marketing gives me a very wide range of experience. I love the travel industry, and that I’m lucky enough to call it my profession; it’s really nice when I’m speaking to travel agents or wholesalers to have the ability to visualize what their day-to-day looks like. I think the most important part of my experience is the ability to understand what the customer’s needs are. It makes a difference in the service I’m able to provide, the questions I can ask to be able to fulfill their needs, and the conversations we can have.
TRO: What is your favorite destination in Australia, and why?
Margot: I live in Seattle, so when I leave here for my own vacations I want sun and warm weather! Tropical North Queensland, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef has always been a favorite of mine. I also love South Australia, Kangaroo Island and the Barossa Valley. Melbourne is my favorite of the major cities, I love the style and the culture.
TRO: Also, what is your favorite destination in New Zealand, and why?
Margot: There’s too many to try and pick one, Queenstown because I love adventure and the scenery is so spectacular. You can jetboat, bungy, hike, kayak, you can easily spend three or four days there and still want to spend another week. Rotorua has also always been a favorite because of the cultural aspect as well as the adventure activities. Then because I do love the sun and the warm weather I love the Bay of Islands and the little town of Paihia.
TRO: How would you say AAT Kings works with travel agents?
Margot: We always suggest that travel agents contact their preferred South Pacific Travel Wholesaler to book our product, we are a preferred supplier partner to them; and with an agents consortia or host agency arrangement they will earn more commission this way. A few of these wholesalers are Down Under Answers, Swain Destinations, Travel 2, Qantas Vacations, Goway, and Anderson Vacations. In saying this, we are always here should a travel agent want to contact us direct to discuss a specific product and what might be a good fit for their client, or to check availability for our guided vacations.
TRO: Is there anything new, or exciting, on the horizon for AAT Kings we should know about?
Margot: Our Inspiring Journeys program! We’ve just released a really beautiful new brochure that only includes this product. These are small group (max 20), 5 star, guided vacations that have a heavy focus on food, wine, indigenous culture and unique experiences. These itineraries were developed based on a need in North America for small group experiential escorted touring within Australia and New Zealand. The itineraries range from 5-22 days. You can use them as modules in an FIT such as Kakadu’s Ancient Secrets or Outback Australia: The Colour of Red, or as the clients entire vacation such as Inspiring Australia or The Long White Cloud. We’re happy to send a brochure if you’d like to order one through the above link.