Country's Top Travel Agent Named
6 December 2012
Country's Top Travel Agent Named
A Nelson man has been named the country's top travel agent in a nationwide travel industry award.
Motueka House of Travel owner/operator Jason Kroupa has been awarded Travel Agent of the Year - an honour which recognises his 30% jump in sales and strategic use of technology to export his service offering.
Kroupa who has been operating since 1995 and has a staff of 8 says it was a six-month sabbatical in France two years ago which laid the foundations for his recent success.
Along with his wife and business partner Linda, Kroupa used the time away to formulate new programmes to improve sales, create a new customer experience initiative and develop a new cruise strategy.
Kroupa says he's proud to have created such a successful business in a town with a population of just 7,000 and says technology has played a valuable role.
"It's a rule of business that it is a necessity to grow. We are fortunate that modern technology has made it simpler to grow a significant percentage of our clientele from around the country and all over the world.
"We have customers from all corners of New Zealand and several that live in Australia, the UK and Europe, people who have struggled in the past to find a travel agent in a big city that actually listens to them," he says.
House of Travel Founder Chris Paulsen says he's pleased to see Kroupa's hard work and initiative rewarded.
"It's fantastic to see the results of travel industry technology combined with a niche service innovator who maintains a strong connection to his customers - it truly is a well-deserved accolade," says Paulsen.
A self-confessed perfectionist Kroupa says it's the team's commitment to ensuring their customers have the best possible service that has led to the continued growth and expansion of the business.
"Linda and I opened House of Travel Motueka when I was just 25 and she was 22, I honestly could not do my job without her by my side. We have worked every day together for 17 years and are continually bouncing ideas of each other.
"Together we have built a successful travel agency with a 'dream team' of experienced travel consultants who make me proud every day," says Kroupa.
He also credits House of Travel founder Chris Paulsen with giving him the confidence to start out as an owner operator when he was still in his twenties.
"It was extremely fortunate that when Linda and I returned from our big overseas experience that Chris convinced us we should work for ourselves rather than someone else, it is one of the best decisions that we've ever made," says Kroupa.
Kroupa says the pair's drive to be successful also comes from their fathers who "instilled in both of us a strong work ethic and empathy to always put ourselves in our customers' shoes."
This empathy extends to a shop-sign in the Motueka store window which says 'Open 24 Hours by Appointment'.
"We've never had to plan a holiday at midnight but we have taken phone calls at 3am to help customers in distress. We will meet clients after work, at the weekend or even in their own homes," he says.
He says listening is an essential talent for any good travel agent and the skill is in asking the right questions to ensure you understand what the customer wants from their holiday.
"Then it's my job to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, adding the insights and suggestions that I have from my years of experience combined with opinions and feedback from my many other customers to create the best travel experience possible."
The Travel Digest Travel Industry awards acknowledge and recognise excellence in the travel and tourism industry.
Travel and tourism agency professionals, travel wholesalers, travel colleges, tour and hospitality companies and tourism organisations throughout New Zealand all voted for their chosen candidate.