Donna toasts Tourism Portfolio’s 20 years

THE FOUNDER of a travel company that survived several international crises over the past two decades has a message of hope for people in the business events struggling with the pandemic slowdown and further fears of recession.

Tourism Portfolio is marking 20 years of business in Australia this month with founder Donna Kessler reflecting on the highs and lows.

Kessler founded the representation company a little over a year after the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks with her first client being the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

She and her business survived the Ansett airline collapse, the 2007 global financial crash, SARS, Bird Flu, and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic, She says small businesses like hers can emerge from it all stronger than ever.

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Highs included winning the 2005 and 2008 Meetings & Events Australia Award for Sales and Marketing Person of the Year, co-creating the Meeting On The Green events industry golf day, and launching the Get Global and Get Local exhibitions with Gary Bender.

“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,” she said.

“The last few years have been quite humbling. Like many of my event colleagues I 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.

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

Kessler said the pandemic forced many people working in the business event sector to look at their businesses differently and redefine how they 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 the industry very soon.”

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