Name: Gordon Bell
Position title: Head of Thailand Division/ Director of Sales-Australia
Company name: Focus Asia. Based in Bangkok
When and why did you join the industry?
I care to forget when I actually entered the travel industry but let’s say it was a couple of years back now! My father worked for Qantas so the family started travelling at an early age, and I guess the passion for travelling rubbed off and that is why I pursued the travel industry as a career, one I have been in all of my working life and don’t regret one minute of it.
What do you like most about your job?
I like very much first of all with dealing with people, in this case travel professionals advising them of the best travel options available to their clients. I like receiving also letters of compliments from passengers through our agents of the great times they had whilst using our company’s services, very gratifying indeed.
Over the years I have met some fantastic people, both in the hotel game and DMC world, and a lot of them have become good personal friends which is so nice.
Now living and working in Thailand for over 7 years, I like very much in guiding my staff and giving them my service and sales skills experience which they really appreciate which is gratifying.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
I have had several, but being nominated in the PATA awards for Best Sales Representative for Vic/Tas some years back was very humbling. Unfortunately I didn’t win but that’s another story, but to be nominated in the first instance was so exciting.
Also winning best booth presentations at various suppliers events was also rewarding, but the things one has to do in order to achieve this sometimes was a bit crazy looking back on it now.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
I don’t remember who it actually was now, but I was told at the early stages of working in the travel game if I worked hard and people noticed many doors would open for me, and it came true. I was offered jobs in Bali and Thailand where I am today because of sheer hard work, and the right people noticing my achievement.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
I started my career at Jetset Tours in Melbourne, which at the time was the largest travel organization in the region, with branches throughout the world. The MD at the time was a very successful man called Mr Isi Leibler, a true vision air and a person I really admired and formed my own success in the travel industry today.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
I think people who know my work ethics realize that if I work and represent a company I feel totally 100 % assured that if agents use our services their clients will be well looked after, and agents will receive positive comments back from them.
To be honest with you most DMC’s receive the same contract rates for hotels like everybody else, but it comes down to service and product knowledge levels from first of all our reservations staff, right through to our team on the ground in the countries. Being an Australian living and working here now for over 7 years looking after the Australian travel market I think also makes our company stand out from the rest as I know exactly what Australian clients look for.
In addition to our main stream division Focus Asia, we also operate a separate division for our MICE/Luxury market called Refine Asia once again staff by true professionals in these fields.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Yunnan. This is one of our destinations that we at Focus Asia service too, and it sounds like a fascinating place to visit with its stunning scenery and places to visit so can’t wait to make a trip to it shortly…
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
Once I had to escort a tour to China for 28 days with a group of teachers which was fine but it was in December, being winter time and the worst snow in years, so as you can imagine many interesting plan B’s I had to make on the spot. Got through it all and everybody had a great time but boy did I need some therapy on my return to Melbourne.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
Credit card, local money and good ear buds!
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
Cary Grant when he was alive, and to Monte Carlo….i am sure he could have opened a few interesting doors with great experiences to be talked about.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
I see extremely high growth to the Asian region, in particular to Thailand and Myanmar coming from all around the world, but in particular from the Asian region i.e.: China and India both huge in population size, with a growing middle and low end demi graphics.
Gordon Bell – Head of Thailand – Focus Asia