It was almost 12 months to the day from the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks that I set up an office in my bedroom and flung open the doors of Tourism Portfolio – a representation company that I was convinced was going to shake things up in Australia and provide meeting and incentive planners with just what they needed to create great conferences and events in Australia and around the world.

My office furniture was sparse but my ambitions – like my hair at the time – were big!

After working in hotel sales for many years I wanted to do something different and thought that I had just the idea.

The Lord of the Rings was on at the cinema, Michael Jackson caused international outrage when he dangled his son over the balcony of a hotel in Berlin, and Eminem’s new album was selling like hot cakes.

With a telephone and a red hot fast internet connection I was off and running. My first client  was the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, who still remain a loyal client today. We continue to share a great partnership, a great destination and fantastic Centre.

I was mindful I wanted to grow organically and represent only the products and destination management companies I knew around the world.  I pitched to them how I could help bring them more business from Australia than they’d ever had by representing them Down Under.

Now 20 years later, I’m still representing many of them after all this time.

As any business owner will tell you after such a long period, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, especially at the start.

Ansett collapsed in early 2002, the search for Osama Bin Laden had begun in earnest and would continue for years, disrupting everything from global financial markets to travel plans for many. The horrific Bali Bombings occurred just a month after we opened. Jetstar launched in 2003.

One of the biggies that affected our little business was the global financial crisis from 2007. It impacted millions of people and certainly our sector.

There was talk for companies to stop spending money on meetings and most certainly incentives. Even President Barack Obama got in on the act, suggesting that money could be saved by having less meetings.

In 2005 and 2008 I entered and won the Meetings & Events Australia Award for Sales and Marketing Person of the Year and sub-let an office in Neutral Bay. Wow, it really felt like I was flying now.

Our small team at Tourism Portfolio continued to grow and we continued to build on our domestic portfolio of properties that we could market to our customers

In 2011 I teamed up with Helen Batt-Rawden from micenet to create Meeting on The Green, a fun interactive  industry golf day that we successfully ran for nine years.

In 2018 I had an idea and with Gary Bender formed Get Global, an industry exhibition we successfully ran for three years, and in 2022 due to border challenges we launched and ran with the support of industry a domestic version – Get Local.

What’s next? Well plenty, let me assure you.

Anyone who owns a business will tell you there are plenty of highs and there can also be plenty of lows which often arise out of things you never expected. The SARS virus around 2019, Bird Flu, volcanic ash grounding flights, and dare I mention COVID-19, have all impacted us in some way.

The last few years have been quite humbling. Like many of my event colleagues I’ve had to pivot to keep my doors open. For me this included working in a call centre to assist with the tracing and tracking of COVID, and managing COVID vaccination bookings.

It felt good to play a part in helping the country get through the crisis.

COVID-19 has forced us all to look at our businesses differently and redefine how we engage and collaborate.

What remains constant is my passion for what I do and now, with new business partner Sharon Levingston, who brings a new set of skills to Tourism Portfolio, I am excited for what the future holds.

Together Sharon and I are developing new business ideas and look forward to sharing these with you very soon.

We continue to grow and evolve through building and maintaining our relationships, respect for our clients, grit and plenty of hard work.

Thank you to all of our clients, our customers and the people I have worked with over the past 20 years to help me reach this milestone. I simply could not have done it without you.

We’ll be celebrating this week with our favourite bubbles and are excited about the next chapter.

Here’s cheers to another 20 incredible years!