I have worked in travel for 20 years, and I have run and operated my own company for the last 7, nearly eight years.
Travel is something that I happened to fall into not by chance but was after a car accident one night coming home from a double shift working at the restaurant, where I grew up being a chef.
Working my way from Wholesale, to Retail, to Corporate, to Events, then going out on my own under a Franchise Model, to taking that step and opening up my own Independent Company.
With a passion for aviation, travel, and of course, the world I wanted to be the best I could and show people this amazing globe. No matter if it was for business, or leisure, or just that adventure they were saving up for, I knew this is what I wanted to do, and with everyone's bucket list being so big I wanted to be that person to ensure they had ticked places off.
With the devastating collapse of Ansett, then the worldly disaster of September 11 2001, everything had changed. A wholesaler that was everyone's favourite located near Crown Casino ceased and Flight Centre employed the majority of us, including myself.
I recall in my first few years especially after September 11, 2001, I had experienced devastation within this industry that of course is meant to bring so much love to people, but instead, it brought us to our knees in tears, but it didn't stop there. Soon after was the Bali Bombings on October 12 2002, then the Boxing Day Tsunami on December 26 2004.
With so much sadness and so many lives were lost. So many travel agents around the globe, including myself, with sorrow, we never saw some of our clients again. The world had changed, and travel had changed forever.
The world didn't stop travelling, but everyone was cautious. However, on July 7, 2005, London was hit, and this was a sad day for so many.
A few years later, the world was hit with the Global Financial Crisis, and all businesses, not just travel, were struck. Some even forced to closed.
With the travel industry changing and looking back from those times, I had achieved so many goals and built a reputation, which I was incredibly proud. With the accolades under my belt and the majority of countries ticked off my list, along with overcoming so many challenges thus far, I kept ongoing.
With this list of devastating events growing it made travel harder, and harder; April 24, 2006, Egypt, July 11, 2006, India, June 30, 2007, Glasgow November 26, 2008, Mumbai, April 15, 2013, Boston, November 13 and 14, 2015 Paris, August 17, 2017, Barcelona and October 1, 2017, Las Vegas.
Not to mention the further tragedy and mysterious disappearance of MH370 on March 8, 2014, followed by MH17 being shot down on July 17, 2014. I know I missed a few, though the list is endless, including how we were faced with the online world and how "travel" changed the concept of being booked.
Having lost so many clients, which is devastating in itself, it broke me, and there was nothing that I could do about it.
That said, it was time to move forward, and Josh Zuker Travel was born in November 2012. Over the years, we have excelled in customer service and client satisfaction.
From a team that was just myself, then grew to 2, and then 10, and now a total of 8 we achieved 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award and in 2019 Victorian Travel Agency of the Year, not to mention also our 5-star rating online via Trustpilot and Facebook.
I ran my business from my home, and at most days in the car, cafes, client homes (especially for lunch or dinner) and restaurants. I had a business network all around Australia and had earned a level of trust from so many that still after all these years book with me, which is fantastic, especially in today's world.
I met clients for the first time who welcomed me into their homes, sometimes strangers at cafes (a little like a blind date), but whichever way you look at it every conversation had always was like I had already known them. It was like I had seen them yesterday.
Having achieved so much over the years, I can look back and be proud. I can stand up tall and say, I did that. To the people that have fulfilled their travel dreams and continue to do I thank you for trusting me. In 2018 Josh Zuker Travel was part of Network 10's 'Foodie Adventures with Ash Pollard' and in 2020 for January and March, we had featured in all of the Virgin Australia in-flight magazines.
Remembering how the world used to be, and comparing to how it now, wow, how times have changed. Who would have thought that in today's world, we would need people and people that matter? And, who would have thought that how so many people can care about someone or many? Who would have thought that from someone, or many people walking into your life yesterday, last year, or even years prior they can mean so much? I guess it's only a matter of time and for what it's worth tragedy or trauma brings the world together.
With the Travel Industry going through so much over the years to major supplier and airline collapses of recent times, to now in complete dire straits and the world in havoc, I can be proud of what I have done, and what I have achieved.
Thank you for all the love and support from all over our clients. I hope we can be stronger, though when I am not sure, but perhaps with your help, we can.
Though, you would think I have done enough crying, but, the answer is no. A few days ago, after posting a message of support online, I had received many comments of love, gratitude and above all, support from many that I haven't even met. People felt my words and people who were so sorry not only for my company but for everyone around.
Walking into the supermarket the other day and walking down the empty aisles, I was in tears, not to mention what the entire travel industry has faced over the past week or so has just been indescribable.
Then, today, after I had been working around the clock to rescue clients on the other side of the world to come home, I had one client who asked me a question.
We have only seen each other, maybe 2, or 3 times, but the response left me speechless as she was in tears. I had to take a breath because I had tears running down my face. It was something personal, which my reply was "I don't know".
Who knows if this person will see her family for the last time, and who knows how it will make her feel, but all I know is that neither I or herself can change this current situation.
They say travel brings people closer together, and they also say that travel can change your world. Well, I can say is that travel has brought me closer to people, and many that I have never met, along with it has changed my world forever.