Chimu Chat: Michelle Desmarchelier

Travel Manager, Michelle Desmarchelier drove 4,000 kms across Australia in a week to keep her purpose in check.

Travel Manager | Michelle Desmarchelier

COVID-19 took my business plan and tore it to shreds, my purpose of making dreams come true was all but extinguished! So, I decided to drive 4000 kms across the outback and raise funds for cancer research! This way I could keep delivering.

By nature, I’m purpose driven, I don’t climb ladders or chase quick bucks! Working on my own business, as a Personal Travel Manager, I’ve always prided myself in supporting my community of repeat and referred clients, by enriching their lives through travel, that is, until COVID took away my ability to give. Pivoting to domestic was ok for a while, but the opportunities were few and far between and erratic border closures have made that extremely challenging.

In 2020 I had the opportunity to drive in a fundraising rally, until COVID took care of that plan as well! So, in 2021 when it looked like state borders were going to be open for long enough for it to happen, I jumped at the chance! With 50,000 Australians dying from cancer each year, the urgency to do something about it was and is ever present.

Participating in the Shitbox Rally gave me the opportunity to not only support community but to also challenge myself. 4000 kms of driving across outback roads in one week is not for the faint hearted but neither is cancer! Preparations for the event were all consuming and fundraising in one of the hardest environments was confronting. That, between myself and my co-driver, we raised over $15,000 was overwhelming. Perhaps the most incredible feat was, that we managed to cross state borders without restrictions, though COVID tried to chase us down, it never quite caught up and we safely completed our quest from the Gold Coast to Alice Springs with some of Australia’s most awesome human beings! 

Returning, that burning desire to keep delivering back in the travel industry was on fire. It’s been hard to be locked down and unable to work on my purpose, but I will never give up. I know now more than ever what I’m supposed to do. I’ll wait.

To help get to the other side and stay in travel, I’m working part time outside of the industry, but I still have time to work on my business.  My clients are itching to get back out there when it’s safe to do so. Like hairdressers and beauticians right now, I’d like to think every travel agent who can hold on tight through this is going to be worth their weight in gold and run off their feet.   I could very well dye my own hair and wax my own eyebrows right now, but I wouldn’t do it properly and I really can’t wait to pay a professional to do it for me.

Whilst the pandemic has been devastating in so many ways, I think this has really been a perfect opportunity for a big shake up, to realign and re-establish supplier/agent relationships, and for me, personally, it’s given me a chance to stop, take a breath and focus on what I really want to do moving forward.   I will never step away from my business, but now instead of being desperate to please everyone, I really do know my worth and the value I hold, when it comes to planning and managing people’s holidays and I look forward to building more quality relationships.

I’ve always said to my clients that I’m available 24/7 in the lead up to, and whilst they’re on holidays, the only thing I can’t do is go on holiday with them.

Michelle has kept her finger on the travel pulse throughout the pandemic and vows to be there to support travellers, as they navigate the new world when borders open. travelmanagers.com.au/MichelleDesmarchelier

For more stories behind the scenes from people in travel read more on the Chimu Chat

Author: Meg Hall

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