Virtuoso celebrated the 30+ year career of one of its finest owner managers during the AU/NZ Forum this week in Fiji, bestowing its Southern Cross Award upon a shell-shocked Michael Nolan of Bayview Travel.
Nolan was the fourth recipient of the accolade that pays homage to an individual who has made a long-standing, contribution to the luxury network. Before him, at previous Forums, the honour went to Bev Cohen of Wentworth Travel in 2019, Claudia Rossi Hudon of Mary Rossi Travel in 2021 and last year, Greg Ashmore who founded Travel Associates, was posthumously recognised.
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In presenting the award, Fiona Dalton, GM Australia & New Zealand said the Southern Cross Award recognises a member for their “exceptional characteristics” and who “embodies, articulates and demonstrates daily the values and the spirit of what it means to be a Virtuoso.”
Below are the words Dalton spoke of in the lead-up to his naming.
Tonight’s recipient has spent his whole adult life working as a travel advisor, beginning back in the 80s, there was no other carer he wanted to build and he is now the owner of a highly successful Virtuoso agency, having been a member since 2005.
He still consultants today and he has over 63 five-star reviews and recommendations on Virtuoso.com from clients who call out his attention to detail, his hospitality, his willingness to listen, and to help and his outstanding service. In fact, 27 of those reviews are just in the last 12 months since the border reopening.
His staff speaks so highly of him and they know that he has their back.
Although he is focused on his business revival, his compassion for people’s welfare is the filter through which he makes most of his decisions. But it hasn’t been easy. It takes passion and resilience to lead a business over an extended period of time. Lots of highs and probably a few lows. But this person has been dedicated in the extreme to both their own business and ours.
Being a quality Virtuoso business requires agencies to meet very rigorous standards, but being a quality Virtuoso member means sharing and contributing to the community. Tonight’s recipient, not only contributed to every forum, but he’s also a valued member of our advisory boards, our collaboration teams and our advisor events. He believes we are better together and we believe we are better because of him.
He makes us laugh. He loves a good PowerPoint presentation and accompanying print-out.
Seriously he has a humility beyond the normal and a moral compass driven by integrity because he truly cares. And he demonstrates that to us every day.
I am so proud to announce this year’s Southern Cross winner goes to Michael Nolan.
A standing ovation ensued and Nolan was mobbed by excited industry counterparts on his way to the stage to receive his award from an emotional Dalton.
“This is the most extraordinary thing I think that has ever happened to me.”
“I didn’t ever think for a minute that I would be worthy of such an award, particularly when you were mentioning people like Cher and Claudia and Bev,” Nolan told the Forum audience.
“I am absolutely blown away by it.”
Nolan continued, saying: “Virtuoso has been such a wonderful part of our business over the years. It really was a turning point in terms of selling luxury travel – we love it and we love it today. I think what we love most of all is the community that we’re here with.
“Certainly over COVID, I don’t think I can underestimate the importance the Virtuoso Community had in my life, with all those Zoom calls, with all the troubles we were facing as an agency, to have the support of the member advisory board to be able to share ideas and so forth… that has been truly amazing to us.
“I’m beyond overwhelmed,” he concluded.
Lead image: Fiona Dalton, General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, Virtuoso with Michael Nolan, Managing Director, Bayview Travel.