Therese (Terri) Small (pictured above right) started Supreme Tours & Travel with her mother in 1994 after a number of years working for an outbound tour company. Vikki Bell (pictured above left) joined the team in 2009. They offer special trips for the mature traveller both domestically and internationally.
How would you describe a typical day for you?
A typical day is really full of sales, of putting together documentation, of planning things for the future, advertising – we’re always busy. Some days it involves a glass of wine or three!
How do you define a great travel experience?
Something that’s well planned; something that makes you go ‘wow’; something that you wouldn’t do normally at home; a bucket list trip; something you’ve dreamed that gives you goose bumps. A goose bump experience is fabulous. Our tours are based on past experience, on what we would like to do, how we like to travel. If we like it then we think our clients will like it.
What inspires you?
Sharing this incredible world. Making sure that the products and the tours that we put together make our clients happy. We really do go the extra mile to make sure that they get the most out of their experiences.
What do you like about being part of the GTN family?
For me the word family says it all. It’s very inclusive, you see how everything works. Everyone is friendly including the other GTN members. That’s never happened to me before with other independent networks. I love that I can have input, particularly at managers’ meetings, and people are encouraged to offer that input, which I do.
What is your biggest frustration about the travel industry?
Funnily enough, my biggest frustration is my biggest gain – technology. New changes with IATA, new changes they’re bringing on board with how to conduct business. A lot of my time is spent dealing with learning this new technology and learning how things are going to be done.
What’s been the hardest moment in your career?
I don’t really have hard moments, you have moments every day.
What’s been the greatest/a highlight?
Coping with the Military Tattoo four years ago. We a lot of travellers down there at the time and it was like a military operation for us, we had to make sure everyone was where they needed to be. A lot of our clients are elderly so there was no room for error. We definitely felt a sigh of relief that it all went well.
How do you balance work and life?
Very easily – I think you have to draw a line between work and life. You have to be available 24 hours because the age group we’re dealing with are often retired so they call us often. But I always make time to be at home, to take a holiday, and I think Vikki and I work really well with that. Having Vikki helps tremendously – having someone that knows the business as well as I do. We have a really strong team.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone first starting out in the industry?
Be prepared to learn from other people and be open to their advice. Decide where you would like to be – do you like people, do you want to be at the front end, do you want to focus on groups, or just New Zealand. Don’t be afraid to place yourself in front of people.
Something that we do every day, and something that we would advise newbies to do is to think outside the box. There’s always a way to get around a challenging situation. Today a lot of the people we deal with seem to stick within a certain parameter and are too quick to say ‘we can’t do that’ or ‘it can’t be done’. They are not used to looking for solutions to different problems.
Be prepared to do the hard work – it’s not all glitz and glamour, but it’s incredibly rewarding.
What is your life motto?
Treat people how you would want to be treated yourself – that’s how we put our tours together.