A large picture of the world on Michelle Downey’s office wall says it all.
“It’s a real talking point and it gives people an appreciation of how many places in the world there are to visit and their size,” Michelle says. “Kiwis love to go to Europe but it is really a very small landmass when you consider places like Russia, Africa and South America.”
After more than 30 years in the travel industry, Michelle has set-up her own home-based travel business in Red Beach called Bucket List Travel.
She says the benefit of being an independent broker is that she is not tied to any one travel wholesaler, but can shop around for the best deals with the best value for money.
“There is something very satisfying about arranging an itinerary for someone and then hearing how much they enjoyed themselves when they return,” she says.
“My motto is ‘making your travel dreams a reality’ and that is truly what it is about for me. I’ve amassed a lot of knowledge and experience over the years, and that’s not something you can access when you book online.”
Michelle’s father was a travel agent in Blockhouse Bay and she joined him in the business when she left school and says it is where she learnt the value of good old-fashioned service. She moved to the Coast with her family 17 years ago and has worked for a number of locally based travel agencies.
She believes there is a trend back to using agents for holiday travel bookings because of the support and security they can provide.
“If disaster strikes and you’ve booked online, you’re on your own. But if you’ve booked through an agent, then we can help re-book flights, sort out the insurance, find alternative accommodation and so on.”
As part of the launch of her new business, Michelle is holding an event in conjunction with Peregrine at the Red Beach Surf Life saving Club on August 7, starting at 6.30pm.
“It will be an opportunity to hear the latest news about Antarctic and the High Artic cruises and tours, a true ‘bucket list’ experience. Peregrine’s company ethic of responsible travel and supporting local communities are important to me.”
Everyone is welcome, but bookings are essential.