Two Flight Centre stalwarts are celebrating 30 years with the company next month – and though their careers within the company have gone in different directions there was an early cross over in their paths. Lynaire (Harry) Monnery is a Flight Centre Travel Broker, based in Thorndon, Wellington. (TRAVELinc Memo published her story last Friday, 11 May.) Sue Matson is national leader – retail brands with the Fight Centre Travel Group based in Wellington.
Sue Matson started with the company at what was originally called Wellington Flight Centre. ‘This was the same name as a flying school based at the airport, which was a bit of an issue when people called to ask if we could teach them to fly – but of course we could! That shop is still operating – it’s changed names and locations a few times and now sits on Willis Street.’ Matson says she was a travel consultant who ‘started knowing nothing and learnt something every day for the six years I spent on the front line.’ Matson has been with Flight Centre Travel Group since then but has had (at last count) something like 10 different jobs in the 30 years. ‘Each one of those roles has taken me out of my comfort zone and challenged my personal belief in my abilities. FCTG has had a knack at believing in me before I have believed in myself and I guess I’ve gone on to prove them right. Anything is possible when someone believes in you and that’s very rewarding.’
Matson says challenges over the years have varied depending on her role. ‘In the front line, customers are the biggest challenge and the greatest reward. Once you realise it is all about building strong and personal relationships with your customers, then you will always find success. It’s about integrity and trust… and a bit of humour.’ In support roles customers ultimately remain the focus she says. ‘However our (Flight Centre) people become the challenge and the joy. The frustration can be where people don’t see the potential in their situation or themselves but the joy and reward is when they get it – and they start to see great personal success and – wow, how they grow. Matson says the leisure travel industry will always be about making the customer experience ‘more and more fabulous – both before, during and after the trip. ‘Technology will play a massive part in bringing all those pieces together, but I feel we will move more towards intimate and rewarding one on one relationships between customers and travel experts. If you ask any customer who has relied upon the skills, knowledge and relationship with a great travel expert over a number of years they will say having this relationship is what makes it work for them.’