17 Years: Downunder Travel

Published: April 12, 2021.
Written by: Jason - Destination Specialist, Calgary.

On 05th April 2021, our company, Downunder Travel Ltd. celebrated its 17th Birthday. I have been a Travel Agent for 31 years now and then starting our company in 2004 in what seemed to be a snap decision at the time. I thought I knew a lot about business back then armed with my High School Accounting and High School Economics. In fact, a little secret I have not told many people, I actually failed accounting in High School!!! As per everything I have ever learnt, I have learnt the hard way through the “School of Hard Knocks”. I have owned small businesses before in my career, but nothing like this. The journey has been a roller coaster of a ride. We have certainly had our highs and our lows. Now we have been facing the fight for our lives, being an International Travel Company with International Borders closed for over a year now.

Back in my first job as a Travel Agent in 1990, my employers were a husband and wife dynamic duo. John & Nilla Sparks. John was the GM who did all the business operations and marketing, and he was simply amazing at it… he could turn on the marketing tap at anytime he wanted and enquiries would flood in. Nilla was the Travel Agent in the equation….and to this day, the absolute best Travel Agent I have ever met. In those early days I was stressing over sales targets, and Nilla told me, “Don’t worry about the money, just focus on working hard and doing the best for your customers that you can possibly do, the money will come later, it has to, money always comes to those who work hard and put their customers’ needs above their own” I have lived by those words and even during these turbulent Covid times, I have continued to do this.  Downunder Travel has helped hundreds and hundreds of Stranded Australians stuck in North America return to their sunny shores over the last year….really not an easy task with the Australian Government Passenger Caps currently in place. We made a commitment to help them no matter if they are using our services to purchase tickets or not. The result has been that we have been busier than ever, and even though we do not make much $$$ on selling airline tickets, the sheer volume that has resulted from this has kept our Travel Company well and truly alive while others are unfortunately not doing as well.  I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, way too much to mention.

Since I started our little company in 2004, I have been very fortunate to take on two incredible business partners who have really been the drivers of our success. Stephanie Delaney in who is my business partner in our Toronto Office and Jane Osborne who is my business partner in our Vancouver Office. They have both brought skill sets to our company that has helped to round our company and keep us heading in the right direction. Having these two individuals as business partners has kept me accountable and responsible. Knowing they need me to be on my A Game 110% of the time is a huge motivator. Of course, the biggest partnership of my success so far is the partnership with my wife, Angie, who has believed in me right from the very start, been a confidant during trying times and put up with all the 12 – 14 hour absences while our kids were young…..seriously, sometimes I did not see our kids for 3 days in a row….and I was in town, just working really long days, they were in bed when I went to work and in bed when I came home. If I was working those hours in the office, Angie was working double that at home with three young children to take care of.

We at Downunder Travel have all literally worked our butts off for the last 17 years for our clients, and we will continue to do so as we move forward into the next 17 years.

Thank you to all our simply brilliant staff we have had over the last 17 years, past and present, and of course we could not have done any of this without our loyal and wonderful customers. We truly have been very blessed.

It was important for me to write this on our 17th Anniversary as we have gone through the weirdest year ever experienced for our vibrant industry, and wanted everyone to know that Downunder Travel is still chipping away, still focusing on looking after our customers and still looking towards a bright future. It really is a great thing to love your work.