Skal International Sydney Newsletter
June 2015

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  From the President's Desk...

Well, what can I say? I am sure those members who were able to attend will agree that our 55th Anniversary celebration at the Four Seasons this month was a fabulous event from the venue, to the decorations, our wonderful guest speaker Dr Bill Carroll from Cornell University and of course our raffle which raised funds for the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse. Thank you once again to everyone involved in the planning and organising of this event - it certainly was a fitting 55th birthday party for Skal International Sydney. You'll see some of the photos later in the newsletter, but there are more on our Facebook page and Twitter feed - be sure to have a look. 

A number of members have asked for more details on the upcoming Skal International World Congress. Due to a range of factors, the Executive Committee of Skal International has decided to postpone the Kenya Congress until a later date and the 2015 event will now be held on the Costa del Sol. The dates for this will be announced shortly, so keep an eye on your emails for one from Skal International with further information. 

Our July meeting is a combined meeting with the other Sydney Skal clubs at Aesop's Greek Restaurant. This is always a popular venue and I hope to see you all there. The guest speaker is Jayson Westbury from AFTA who is always entertaining.

Until next month, Skal!

President Verniece Irvine. 

Skal International Sydney 55th Anniversary Celebration

June 2015 saw Skal International Sydney celebrate its 55th Anniversary. Formed in 1960, Skal International Sydney is the oldest Skal club in Australia. 

The event was held at the Fours Seasons Sydney, a long time event partner of Skal International Sydney. More than 60 attendees - both Skalleagues and their guests - joined in the celebration that commenced with informal networking before enjoying a sumptuous 2 course meal with wine. The room itself was decked out in Skal Sydney colours celebrating 55 years, courtesy of Service Skills Australia who sponsored the table decorations. 

Past Presidents of Skal International Sydney were welcomed - below is a photo of those Past Presidents who were able to be present on the day. Their contribution over the years was recognised and acknowledged. 

Our honoured guests at this event were guest speaker Dr Bill Carroll from Cornell University and his wife Beth. Dr Carroll spoke on the topic of "Online - Threat or opportunity?", a topic that is close to the heart of everyone in today's travel and tourism industry, with its ever changing technological landscape. He emphasised the importance of having an online strategy, commenting that while 40-50% of trips are booked online today, 300% of them are shopped online - the clients look at numerous sites and options before making a booking and the savvy operator needs to be able to ensure that they can capture these shoppers and get their business. 

A hilarious fines session led by Kevin Millard preceded the drawing of our raffle. There were a number of amazing prizes on offer in the raffle, including accommodation, car hire, tickets to Sydney attractions, Waterford crystal and Italian wine. The generousity of our assembled guests saw some valuable funds raised for the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse - the 2015 President's Charity. 

Thank you once again to everyone who attended and happy 55th Anniversary Skal International Sydney!

Below are some photographs from the event - check out our facebook page to see the full album!

Skal International Sydney Past Presidents present at our celebration L-R
Brian Kirkham (1991), Paul Highams (2007), Mike Lee (1987), Bob Lunnon (1997, 2010, 2013), Bruce Morton (1985), Sue Marsh (1993), Max Kingston (1991/2 President Skal International), Grant Symonds (2001), Diane Butler (2014), Gary Gelenter (2011), Denis Simond (2012), Martin Mitchell (2009).

Guest speaker Dr Bill Carroll from Cornell University with President Verniece and Committee Member Angela Campagnolo.

Dr. Carroll addresses the meeting.

Committee Member Walter Nand and guests enjoy the networking session.

July Meeting - Wednesday 15th July - Aesop's Greek Restaurant

July will see a combined meeting of the three Sydney Skal clubs at Aesop’s Greek Restaurant. Members of Skal International Sydney will join with members of Skal Sydney North and Skal Sydney South for a fabulous luncheon. Hosted by Skal Sydney North member, restaurateur James Gamvrogiannis, meetings at Aesop’s are always popular events.

Guest speaker: 
CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), Jayson Westbury.
Jayson  has been the Chief Executive of AFTA since 2009. He has recently led the travel industry through a national regulatory reform which has de-regulated the Australian travel industry.


Join us for a Greek Feast, networking and camaraderie.  Come prepared to break a few plates!  Visitors to the Travel Industry Exhibition and other tourism & travel related events in Sydney most welcome to attend.

Pre-lunch drinks commence at 12.30pm, lunch from 1.00pm.


Book now for the July meeting!
Skal International Sydney Member Feedback - Key Points

Thank you to all members who attended the meeting in May and provided feedback - whether at the meeting, by email or on the survey forms that were distributed at the meeting. Below is a summary of the key points of the feedback and some of the actions that the Committee is undertaking to better meet the needs of members. 

Overall, feedback indicates that Skal Sydney members are looking for value and relevance when considering their membership and attendance at meetings. It was noted that guest speakers contributed to this in a large way. 

Issues that were raised centred around things such as commercial relevance to members' busineses, professional development opportunities, time pressures to attend meetings, breadth of the membership (including encouraging broader reach across industry sectors and encouraging younger members to join) and the opportunities to connect with other industry colleagues through networking. 

The concept of guest speakers was raised by a number of members and it was noted that relevant guest speakers would contribute to the value of attending monthly meetings and also contribute to the educational aspect of Skal membership. 

Social media was seen to in some ways be taking over traditional networking and it was noted that an online forum would be useful for members to communicate among themselves. 

The timing and location of meetings was commented on by a number of members. Suggestions were to have some functions outside of business hours, including evening and breakfast functions. The cost of lunches was not seen to be a problem of the majority of members who provided feedback - although this was also seen to be contingent on the meetings providing value in terms of guest speakers and networking opportunities. Venues were generally noted as good, although it was also suggested that non-hotel options could be considered in future. The menus were not noted as a deciding factor in terms of attendance, rather the guest speakers were the key attraction for members to attend.

In terms of the annual membership fee, most members felt that the $230 fee was reasonable or good value, although there was a lack of understanding of the breakdown of fees between club/national/international. Likewise the cost of lunches was also seen to be largely acceptable, although some members suggested that lower costs could be achieved by members paying for their own drinks at lunch meetings. 

Regarding the reasons for membership, the overwhelming response was networking, including the opportunities that Skal membership presents for networking when travelling interstate or overseas. 

Your Committee has taken this feedback on board and we are currently planning a number of initiatives that will address some of the feedback points. These include:
  • continuing to pursue a range of guest speakers for upcoming meeting with particular relevance to the travel and tourism industry; 
  • encouraging members to offer "member to member" benefits to other Skalleagues - an email was sent recently to all Skal Sydney members asking if they had specific offers or discounts that they could extend to other members;
  • modifying the Skal International Sydney LinkedIn group to a "members only" group to provide a forum for members to communicate with other members in a private environment;
  • the August meeting will see a presentation on social media and how to keep in touch with Skal Sydney, as well as how to utilise the Skal International website and its various functions; and
  • the Committee is looking at planning a breakfast meeting in the coming months to give an opportunity to attend to those who cannot do so during business hours. 

Not everything can be addressed at once, but the Committee is certainly looking to try to implement a range of measures to increase the value of Skal membership and looks forward to your support in making our Club thrive into the future. 
Meet a Skal Sydney Member - Angela Campagnolo, Expedia

Each month we will be looking to profile one of our Skal International Sydney members and find out a bit more about them and what makes them tick. If you would like to be involved, please contact Committee Member Tara Strickland on

Angela Campagnolo
Senior Market Manager
Expedia Inc.

How long have you been a Skal Member? 
Going on 3 years.
Which clubs have you been a member of?
Austin, TX and New York City in the United States.
Whats the best thing about being a member of Skal? 
Being a part of a group of people who choose to spend time together and enjoy life together as fellow travel enthusiasts.
Why are you a member? What is the benefit of Skal membership for you?
As a young professional, I find it an incredible opportunity to spend time with and get to know those who are full of wisdom and can provide me advice in my career.
What is the biggest challenge facing the travel and tourism industry right now?
Constant change—being able to keep up all that’s changing from consumer behavior to technology and adapting our businesses effectively and efficiently around those changes.
What has been your favourite holiday destination so far? 
Trip to Italy along the coast—I love hiking and beautiful sunsets!
Where would you like to go next?
Europe for an extended period of time. I’ve gone a few times in small increments, but I have so many places I want to see. Germany and Ireland are on the top of my list.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?
You can’t control people’s reactions/actions, but you can control how you respond.
What do you miss about the USA?
I wish I had my dog here with me in Australia. I miss her terribly!
What do you like about working at Expedia?
Building genuine relationships with hoteliers to partner in inspiring and encouraging travel globally.
What are the challenges?
Never having enough time. I would love for my team to be able to service every partner with utmost attention. I am continually pushing for increased head count. Slowly but surely!
How do you relax outside of work?
Reading my Bible and spending time with God. Since becoming a Christian, I really am able to live without fear in any situation now—it is incredibly peaceful!
What would you do if you weren't in the travel industry?
I'd probably run back to NYC and open a café with REAL coffee and GOOD big breakfast!
Whats your favourite Skal moment?
I miss the Austin crew dearly. We used to have some stellar dinners where we would spend the night laughing and having a drink or two. They were a great group of hoteliers I loved spending time with.
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Skal International Sydney
PO Box 3291
Putney, NSW 2112

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