It’s always great to travel to Australia. Every time I step off the plane at Sydney airport, I kick myself for not having booked to stay for a month. Having just spent a few days visiting our wonderful companies, I can say that the spirit of Virgin is alive and well Down Under.
I love to get out there and meet the people that make our brand shine. Maybe it’s the glorious Southern Hemisphere sun or the salty sea air, it seems like our Aussie team members permanently wear infectious smiles.
There were certainly smiles, and laughter, all round at Virgin Australia. I popped into the office and the airport to say hello and check in to see what the team are up to. This guy wasn’t up to much at all – I caught him sleeping on the job! Wow, did he get a shock when I woke him up. He must have thought he was dreaming because he went straight back to sleep. To be fair, he was on standby, getting some much needed rest. On the other hand, it appears that some of the ladies in the command centre have been up to quite a bit. I must have kissed three or four baby bumps. We love a Virgin birth.
After walking around, meeting and greeting both our crew and guests, I took the opportunity to stop and get my shoes shined in our Lounge by the wonderful Steve – who recently came to work with us as part of an initiative to help disadvantaged people get up on their feet. Steve did an excellent job on my feet – my shoes were positively sparkling!
Sometimes moving from place to place can be a little discombobulating, so it was wonderful to join Virgin Money Australia on top of Sydney Tower for the launch of their home loan programme – not only did I get a wonderful view of the city, I also got a great perspective of Australia’s brokering and finance market. I felt like Santa Claus at the event, when I made the announcement that we will be giving away a share of one million Velocity Frequent Flyer Points to some of our first home loan customers.
I love a surprise giveaway, which is why I also jumped at the chance swing by Virgin Mobile Australia and surprise two of our most loyal customers. They were expecting to meet CEO David Scribner – I hope they weren’t disappointed to see yours truly.
Whenever I travel I like to keep the jet lag at bay by doing a little bit of exercise. So when Virgin Active Australia sent me a #challengerichard to cycle around Centennial Park with Managing Director, Scott Hood, I accepted the challenge with great excitement. I’m in training to join my children, Holly and Sam, on this year’s Virgin Strive Challenge, so I’ll take any opportunity I can get to squeeze in a bit of extra training.
I also got on a bike in Noosa, while visiting our Virgin Limited Edition property, Makepeace Island. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, and there’s no better way to see it in all its splendour then by getting out there on a bike, or a stand-up paddle board, or if you love adventure like me, a kite board.
On my last night in Sydney, Destination New South Wales and Minister for Tourism, Stuart Ayres took me on a great adventure – sailing around Sydney Harbour to see the city lit up by Vivid Festival. It was a wonderful way to explore stunning Sydney and a fitting end to a delightful trip.
Just when I thought that the adventure couldn't get anymore exciting or jam-packed, the morning that I flew out, we annouched a deal with HNA Aviation Group - China's largest private airline operator - that will strengthen our Virgin Australia operations and enable us to open up routes between Australia and China.