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Right from the word go, Tanya and her team were very proactive about building relationships with the local Papamoa community, getting out and talking with people, supporting schools and local businesses, and getting involved with community causes. “I’ve always said to the girls if they haven’t got enough enquiries to deal with I’ll get them outside in their bikini and a sandwich board.” laughs Tanya. “So far I haven’t had to do that!”

Tanya Aitken is a Venus member who has achieved extraordinary success and impressive business growth with her House of Travel outlet in Papamoa over the last ten years. Kathryn Overall met up with her this month to hear her story.

This dedicated relationship building approach has been key to the steady growth of the business in the ten years since. “Our office was actually built for six because that was deemed to be the most that this business would ever sustain,” says Tanya. “Now we’ve got an amazing staff of ten people and I’m really proud of that. We’ve tried many things, we’ve failed at heaps, and we’ve succeeded hopefully at just as many as well. The whole time we’ve never got complacent.” In fact, I don’t think complacency is in Tanya’s vocabulary, or in her DNA for that matter. In hearing the story of her career, the overwhelming impression I have is of a woman who seemed to constantly step into shoes that were too big for her, and then quickly grew into them. The world of travel was in Tanya’s clear-sighted vision from the beginning. She left school at just 16 and completed a 2-year qualification in travel and tourism, all the while working full time as a manager at McDonalds to support herself. “I laugh about that now,” smiles Tanya,” but I actually still today draw on what I learnt at McDonalds. They are really regimented in their training and their practices - time efficiency is absolutely maximized. I run my business exactly the same way. It’s great to be an excellent salesperson, it’s amazing to have great relationships with people, but if you’re not efficient in every way, well you’re just wasting time, energy and money.” After graduating, Tanya gained valuable experience in a number of successful agencies before heading off for her own OE. As a young snip of a thing in London, she talked herself into a dream job with International Management Group, literally booking super-stars all around the world. “I absolutely loved it and I learnt so much by being in a bigger market,” says Tanya. “It gave me an amazing platform to grow from.”

Venus magazine issue four  
Venus magazine issue four  

A magazine for New Zealand women in business