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Meet Two Of South Sea Cruises Best, Finalists In Tourism Awards

Eunice Molia and Maria Penjueli, working for South Sea Cruises, both have over two decades of experience in our tourism industry. They have surely seen the industry not only in
13 Dec 2014 10:10
Meet Two Of South Sea Cruises Best, Finalists In Tourism Awards
EUNICE MOLIA (left) and MARIA PENJUELI

Eunice Molia and Maria Penjueli, working for South Sea Cruises, both have over two decades of experience in our tourism industry.

They have surely seen the industry not only in its good times (which we are experiencing now), but also in the tough times.

The two, in addition to their expertise, bring for our tourism industry good insights and strengths required to increase our visitor numbers.

It is no wonder they have both been shortlisted as finalists in two separate categories of the 2014 AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards.

Ms Molia, a Sales Executive, is a finalist under the frontliner category whilst Ms Penjueli, Reservations Supervisor, is a finalist in the Bank of House category.

The 2014 AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards will be announced on February 20 at the Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau Island in Nadi.

 

EUNICE MOLIA

Ms Molia started working in the tourism industry at the age of 20 and has a career spanning 23 years in marine tourism.

She joined South Sea Cruises the past year after spending 20 years with Captain Cook Cruises.

Ms Molia is a Samoan, part Rotuman and iTaukei from Kadavu.

She says she is: “Mum to three children and grandmother of two handsome grandsons.”

For her, the tourism industry has played an important role in her life helping mould her into the person she is today.

“I have met such amazing people over my 24 years in the industry and many of them are still close friends today,” she said.

“I’m proud that my eldest daughter has also chosen her career path in Hospitality and Tourism.

“I look forward to being able to pass on my experience and advice whenever it will be called upon.”

This is the first time for Ms Molia to be nominated in the AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards and we can all imagine her excitement.

How do you feel about being nominated for the 2014 AON Fiji Excellence in Awards?

Overwhelmed and excited about my nomination.  To be nominated amongst such a high calibre of nominees from the tourism industry has been a very motivational experience for me.

What is your nomination based on?

In recognition of achievements and customer service.

What would you say about the importance of such awards?

It is very important to industry members to be recognised for their contribution to the tourism industry.

It gives each a sense of pride that your hard work is acknowledged in the industry and by your peers within the Industry.

How would you describe our tourism industry and the cruise tourism industry at present? 

There is such a sense of excitement for the coming year for tourism in Fiji.

Fiji is a reliable destination for our strongest markets being Australia and New Zealand with strong growth particularly out of New Zealand.

Also the emerging markets of North America, Europe and China.

Marine tourism plays an enormous part ensuring our visitors reach their resort destinations as well as day cruise options.

Of course the stunning Blue Lagoon Cruise showcases so much of the Mamanuca and the Yasawa Islands.  I believe tourism in Fiji is in for a very successful 2015 and beyond.

For someone who has been in the industry for almost 24 years, how would you describe things have evolved from how it was before and how it is now?

In the early stages of my career, so many tour companies were run with minimal crew and crew were trained in all aspects of the company operation.

Forward 20 odd years, with the ever evolving technology and social media platforms, Fiji is far more accessible to not only our global partners but also to the worldwide consumer.

As a sales perspective, what are some of the things needed to stimulate the industry further?

More investment from the Government into tourism- opening more airlines for direct flight into Fiji and stability in our national tourism office.

What further trends do you see in this industry?

Growth – Expectation of the traveller has changed and we as a destination need to keep up with trends that other destinations do so well to keep the traveller coming to Fiji.

During the downtimes in the tourism sector, what sort of strategies do you apply to make up for the slow period?

I have a great relationship with local agents and our Inbound Tour Operators. We support each other in the downtimes with co-opt campaigns and promotions.

This is not only on a local level but also with the large network of sales executives we have with seven Overseas Sales Offices and global marketing reach to each of these offices.

Over the 24 years, what was your worst year in this sector and how did you overcome? 

In January 2012, when Fiji was hit by serious flooding, heavy rains from 2011-12, the south Pacific cyclone season, it really crippled our tourism operation and industry as a whole.

Thanks to our Government who made a quick turnaround to focus on Nadi’s disaster and the strong commitment by those that work within the tourism industry, soon had Fiji welcoming visitors back to our shores with our big BULA smiles.

 If you could have done anything differently in your career, what would it have been? 

With the vast growth of tourism, in my current career! I see a fast growth of competitors in this industry, with different ideas in starting up a business, I think I would continue to enjoy my work and to build that good relationship with people from all works of life and to gain more experience.

What is one goal that you would like to accomplish? 

Professionally, I would like to keep that standard of who I am, having that integrity, honesty and hard work …  continuing along the same path would be accomplishing a lifetime of that good relationship that I have set as a goal, throughout the past and be recognised in your current work and for the future.

On a personal level, would be my beautiful family and watching them become the caring adults that they have become couldn’t make me prouder.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?

Stimulate yourself with knowledge and never stop learning, integrity, have a good sense of humour, be honest in what you do and keep building on relationships – all of this I have achieved and proud of my achievements and successes in a very rewarding career so far.

 

MARIA PENJUELI

Ms Penjueli has been in the tourism industry for the past 20 years.

Her career has included working as a travel agent, in resorts before she moved to South Sea Cruises where she has stayed for the past 12 years climbing up the ranks.

Very bubbly and a delight to speak to (as is Ms Molia), Ms Penjueli is a solo parent other with four children (three sons and one daughter).

She told us, when she first started in the tourism industry, life was pretty simple and most of the paperwork was done manually.

“Transportation was quite restricted at that time to just Water Taxis and Seaplane to the Yasawas when I worked at Turtle Island,” she said.

“Therefore taking a trip to the mainland was a luxury as this did not happen often.

There weren’t many products in the market as well such as day trips, beauty spas, water sports activities, inland excursions, skydiving, wedding events etc.

“There were a few resorts in the Mamanucas and just a handful of resorts and backpackers in the Yasawas.”

Ms Penjueli said when she first started with South Sea Cruises 12 years ago, they only had four staff in reservations department and check-in was done in an open Bure at Port Denarau.

“Now we have a team of approximately 42 in Reservations and have one of the biggest check-in counters at Port Denarau,” she said proudly.

“We now have about 20 different day trips and a variety of packages to the Yasawas and Mamanucas.   Port Denarau Marina speaks for itself.

“Competition within the industry is quite high with many companies now venturing into tourism.

“There are now more resorts and more foreign investment into Fiji than when I first started in this industry.

“Tourism Industry has definitely evolved from its humble beginnings to what it is right now which is believe in its prime.”

How do you feel about being nominated for the 2014 AON Fiji Excellence in Awards?

I am overwhelmed and humbled by this nomination.  To be chosen out of so many applicants is definitely a humbling experience for me personally.  It is such an honour to be even selected for this award.

What would you say about the importance of such awards?

For me, such awards are important as it recognises and acknowledges companies and people who have worked hard throughout the years.

It also encourages individuals to excel in their work areas or companies to improve on their products which at the end of the day proves to be profitable to both parties and the tourism industry as a whole.

How would you describe our tourism industry and the cruise tourism industry at present? 

I believe this is an exciting time for the tourism industry as the arrival numbers to Fiji does reflect its continuous growth.

Tourism industry hauling in the largest $$$ to our country does speak for itself.  With the cruise industry, I believe it is on the climb taking into consideration the number of cruise liners coming to our shores.

However, our locally-based cruise product is soft.

As a sales perspective, what are some of the things needed to stimulate the industry further?

Global awareness with more campaigns from our NTO.  Perhaps more emphasis on longer term stays in Fiji rather than cruise and air through fares.

What further opportunities do you see in this industry?

Being competitive against other destinations particularly for our larger markets that we rely so heavily on.

During the downtimes in the tourism sector, what sort of strategies do you apply to make up for the slow period?

Working hand in hand with our Sales and Operations teams to achieve great customer service that will see first time travellers become returnees and to encourage our returnees to come back year after year.

Also targeting our local market with promotions that will entice them to buy our product.

Over the years, what was your worst year in this sector and how did you overcome?  

The worst year we experienced was the end of 2012 and early 2013 with Cyclone Evan and the floods.

It showed the true Fiji spirit with everyone coming together to help family friends and strangers.

 If you could have done anything differently in your career, what would it have been? 

With the vast growth of tourism, in my current career! I see a fast growth of competitors in this industry, with different ideas in starting up a business, I think I would continue to enjoy my work and to build that good relationship with people from all works of life and to gain more experience.

What is one goal that you would like to accomplish? 

Professionally, I would like to keep that standard of who I am, having that integrity, honesty and hard work …  continuing along the same path would be accomplishing a lifetime of that good relationship that I have set as a goal, throughout the past and be recognised in your current work and for the future.

On a personal level, would be my beautiful family and watching them become the caring adults that they have become couldn’t make me prouder.

 If you could have done anything differently in your career, what would it have been? 

Further studies to attain degree before joining the workforce which I did not get a chance to do.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? 

One should always prioritise ones work as without employment you will not be able to provide for your family.

Be diligent, honest and always give it your best shot as there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you have given your 110%.  Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat the same mistake twice.

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

 

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