THE phone never stops ringing at Queanbeyan City Travel and Cruise, but for four nights this month owner Jennifer Cooper was able to get out of the office and rub shoulders with the stars at the annual G'day USA Convention in Los Angeles.
The free international trip was a reward from Qantas Holidays for being the highest seller of Qantas holidays in the ACT/Southern NSW, an award Mrs Cooper has now won for the last 11 years running.
Rubbing shoulders with showbiz stars including John Travolta, Rose Byrne, Mel Gibson, Paul Hogan, Olivia Newton John, Miranda Kerr and Keith and Nicole added some Hollywood glamour to the trip, but the trade-related networking opportunities were just as valuable, she said.
Alongside touristy events such as a visit to Universal Studios and taking in a LA Lakers game, the trip also included seminars where the Australian travel agent contingent could sit down with their US counterparts and brainstorm sales ideas.
"Business class was great, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous was fantastic, but I have to tell you, I learnt an awful lot that will directly help me in my job," Mrs Cooper said.
"Normally if you go away on a [trade] trip, you get to see hotels, and what the rooms are like and they show you all the greatest things. But this was an opportunity to sit down and talk to like-minded people who give you an insight into what an American travel agent is really looking for.
"We had a seminar where we met Qantas Vacations staff, which is the American subsidiary of Qantas Holidays. We met their top agents and shared ideas. We heard their perceptions of how they sell Australia [to Americans] and their knowledge for us to sell American products, so I built some good business relationships there," she said.
This year's G'day USA was the 10th anniversary of the Oz culture and business gala and opened with a sold-out black tie event for over 1000 guests in Beverly Hills on Saturday, January 12.
The scale of the main event was massive, Mrs Cooper said, and there was a lot of love for all things Australian in the air.
"It was just massive. The way that Americans revere and celebrate Australia's input in America is amazing. It's also a big opportunity for trade, and for Australian companies to showcase their product."
Now back in Australia and back to work, Mrs Cooper said staff at Queanbeyan City Travel and Cruise are enjoying boom conditions that has seen local residents continue to travel overseas despite national economic tightening.
"Every season is peak season at the moment. It's interesting, because the people in reservations at Qantas Vacations in America said that they've noticed a peak in people from within the Canberra area as a whole, that they're the ones who seem to be travelling the most, along with people from WA," Mrs Cooper said.
* Visit the staff at Queanbeyan City Travel and Cruise opposite The Commonwealth Bank in Riverside Plaza. For enquiries, phone 6299 3111.