The Italian Vespa has long been a symbol of freedom to explore, and you’ll now find a shiny red version in Albury’s AMP Lane parked outside the region’s newest travel agency – Travel Managers and Eating Travel – that offers its clients the unique tastes of a destination.
With their individual backgrounds in travel and food, it made perfect sense to Brendon Mahony and Noelle Quinn to open a travel agency that caters for people who want to have a unique experience of a country.
At a time when many people were booking their own travel, Brendon says the support of a travel agent still gave peace of mind to the client.
“There are always issues that you can’t be 110 per cent comfortable with,” he said.
“It’s not as if a travel agent will never, or doesn’t ever make a mistake, but if you’re dealing with a decent travel agent and there has been a mistake made, that agent will bail you out and they will address the issues.
“However, if you as an individual have booked and made a mistake you have got to sort it yourself and it can be quite hard and embarrassing as well.”
The other arm of the business is Eating Travel that provides niche food adventures in Australia and overseas.
“We went to local markets, bought produce every day brought it back to the villa, we prepared meals and drank local wines – it was a real experience”
“I’ve been in the travel industry for about 40 years, and about 15 years ago we started doing small food tours to overseas destinations, but Noelle was also running a food retail business with Q Food,” Brendon said.
“Having stepped back from owning that, we’ve combined her passion for food and our enjoyment taking small groups away and come up with a unique travel opportunity that you won’t find in any brochure,” he said.
In September last year as part of a three week tour of Paris, Provence, Northern Spain and Barcelona, Brendon and Noelle leased a villa in France for a week where Noelle cooked every day for the small group that travelled with them.
“We went to local markets, bought produce every day brought it back to the villa, we prepared meals and drank local wines: it was a real experience.
“We also took in the sights, and there was this surprise, Château La Coste winery in Provence where you can walk through 180 hectares and discover structures and other artworks.
“It’s been set up by Irish property developer, Paddy McKillen, and I think there’s now close to $50 million worth of sculptures and structures around the vineyard. So you have a drink, you have a meal and you go for a two hour walk and see work by some of the world’s award winning artists and architects,” Brendon said.
In May the couple will host a tour to one of their favourite destinations, Vietnam, but as more destinations beckon it may be their last to that country.
Closer to home, Brendon and Noelle are looking at opportunities to make people more aware of this region as a destination.
“With both sides of the business we’re definitely looking at regional activities because we have so much going on in our own backyard here, that we want to become involved in.
“Noelle is desperately passionate about growing this part of the business and to have people appreciate what is regionally available.
“We’re really trying to get the message across about visiting and supporting our local producers and seeing what they have to offer. We’re head and shoulders above what a lot of other regions have. We just need to get that message out to people.”