8 questions with… Anthony Goldman, Joint MD Goldman Group

LATTE chats with this year's Virtuoso Southern Cross Award recipient

This week, LATTE chats with Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director of Goldman Group, Chair of the Virtuoso Global Member Advisory Board; Board Director of Link Travel Group… and marriage celebrant.

Anthony was the most recent recipient of the Virtuoso Southern Cross Award, bestowed upon him at the Virtuoso AU/NZ Owner/Managers Forum in Bangkok. He is pictured in the lead image with Fiona Dalton, former General Manager, Virtuoso AU/NZ and Matthew Upchurch, Chairman and CEO, Virtuoso.

And when you’ve finished reading Anthony’s responses to these questions, look back at his exclusive ‘future letter’ that he wrote to himself during the height of the pandemic for LATTE. It appears he’s also a bit of a fortune teller! Link at the bottom.

 

How is business at Goldman Travel Group? Has corporate well and truly rebounded?

Business is solid. Our corporate business, led by my brother Dave, is always evolving. Dave and his team are developing some interesting new tools and tech to support our clients and help them maximise their travel programs. We need to stay current with all the innovations in the corporate space to be able to compete with the big corporate TMCs, and we do. It takes time and investment.

Sharing the Virtuoso award limelight in Bangkok - Anthony Goldman with Stuart Reay, SmartFlyer Australia; Janine Kovkin, Travelcall Sydney and Dave Goldman.

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On the leisure front, what gets you excited at Travelcall and SmartFlyer Australia? You must be chuffed Goldman Group invested in these businesses when it did and you’ve seen them flourish?

Nothing comes easy. We invested and continue to invest in our businesses to make sure our people are at their best. It’s all about our people, our advisors and support teams. Travelcall Melbourne and Sydney and The Cruise Centre by Travelcall in Brisbane are very strong businesses. Our focus continues to curate the best travel experiences for our clients, all loyal clients. SmartFlyer Australia is growing every month. And we are lucky to have great partners in that business.

Three things excite me. Firstly, seeing our long-time team members evolve and keep learning. You never stop learning new destinations and products, Secondly, bringing new people into the industry. People who have chosen travel as a new career and come in fresh. Thirdly, new clients. All our new business is referrals from existing clients. Since 2021, we have welcomed many new clients to our businesses. Love it.

Your term as the Chairman of the Virtuoso Global Advisory Board is drawing to a close. Can you tell us about some of the highlights and experiences you’ve gained in this role, or key achievements?

I am very proud of what we have achieved in my time on Virtuoso’s Global advisory board. Being instrumental in the globalisation of the company has been very rewarding. When I first started on the board seven years ago, everything was still very US-centric. Virtuoso now has teams in markets around the globe and this is essential to the success of the group.

The other highlight is seeing new members prosper and develop into wonderful travel businesses. I don’t consider any of our fellow members as competitors, rather as colleagues. I am very close to several agency owners, and we share a lot together.

Goldman and Upchurch at the 20 Year celebration of Virtuoso launching in Australia, held earlier this year.

What does the Virtuoso Southern Cross Award recognition mean to you?

It is special to be recognised by an organisation in which you have invested so much time and passion. It is extra special given the dark patch we all survived a few years back. To share the award with the late Bev Cohen, Claudia Rossi Hudson and Michael Nolan is an honour.

During your acceptance speech it was mentioned that you left the industry during the pandemic. Can you expand on what field of work you did, for how long, and what was the pivotal moment that you realised it was time to do something…

Whilst keeping close to our business during the pandemic, like many other travel people, I needed to find some extra income and sanity. So I worked at a hotel in Melbourne, United Places Botanic Gardens. I was working in the front and it was truly one of the things that got me through that period. It was wonderful and I keep connected via some mentoring of some staff there. I also trained as a Marriage Celebrant which was fun and interesting, I am still accredited if anyone needs the perfect celebrant 😊

Goldman and Upchurch share plenty of banter

It was evident at Virtuoso Forum you share a tight bond with Chairman and CEO, Matthew Upchurch. How has your business relationship evolved into a close friendship over the years?

Matthew and I share a common passion for the travel advisory community. Our friendship has developed over the last seven years through a mutual respect. He is open to ideas and feedback and I love that. He champions our businesses and just loves what he does. We also share a sense of humour. We often talk ideas and challenges and hope that continues past my chairmanship.

What do you see as a current challenge in the travel advisory industry?

Honestly, the fact that everyone is claiming to be a ‘luxury’ operator. Frankly, it’s annoying and dangerous.

The commoditisation of the work ‘luxury’ is about to cause some issues for clients and suppliers. Luxury is a feeling and level or curation, delivery and service. Not a word to use to slap on a website or business plan. I am worried about this, so I will share more thoughts in coming weeks about this.

How is the evolution of Goldman Group coming along? Have your children expressed interest in joining the company and are you honing their talents?

Not yet. All three siblings are in the business now. Between Dave, Danielle and me, there are 7 nest generations. Let’s see what happens in the next 5-7 years.

 

Guest column: Anthony Goldman

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