Border Force, Farce and Fair Go Mate


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The jobs of these people are to protect our borders. It’s not 1974 and we are handing out flowers in Fiji

Agents should learn from the perception of our border forces

I’m in the middle of a fairly heavy period of travel. Home after a week in India and no sooner are three loads of washing dry that they are back in the suitcase and I’m back in a window seat.

I could organise my trips myself, but I regularly lean on agents for advice, support or to book some more of the intricate routes. I don’t need to tell you it’s worth it every time.

I do love coming home because everything is moderated, reasonable, orderly, organised and reliable. No Alarms and no surprises.

There is always that mild stress of coming back through an airport, collecting the duty free, doing the passport thing, getting the bags and getting out. I just want to get out. Home is just steps away. The fresh Melbourne air always puts a smile on my freezing face as I walk to the taxi. We live in the lucky country.

If it’s good, I am through in half an hour.  If it’s bad,  I know I’ve just been unlucky, had my bag pulled and spend another 20 minutes as someone asks to see my lipstick (seriously, it was for my daughter).

I travel enough to have had  “that” person and “that” experience on “that” day at an airport. Whether it be harassment, I’ve been racially profiled,  made to wait, the ugly stares, the power trip, the suggestion a bribe might fix it all. Whatever. Australian customs are good. Sure I have waited but I’ve never had a bad experience in Australia. In India, the Ukraine, Dubai and Heathrow I’ve had some shockers.

So I was surprised to see this article in Fairfax ––groan-20170714-gxbaox.html

Some poor soul re-entering the country had to wait in a line. The article and typically extreme views of commentary drove home the lack of understanding so many people have about the mechanics of travel. Let’s put that in perspective.

What do you “really” know about what your doctor does? Your lawyer? Your account? Do you really get it? Have you ever walked in their shoes? What is their they like. But does it stop you complaining or thinking you are an expert? Do we know about the mechanics of anything apart from what we do?

The jobs of these people are to protect our borders. Whether it be from disease, illegal immigrants or drugs they are the last line of defense. Every day they sit on their backsides in a cubicle and deal with thousands of grumpy passengers who have not had enough sleep asking  impertinent questions, giving them grief, one after the other on the way back from a holiday who just want to get their dried mushrooms to that loved one.

That would get really annoying. The same conversation over and over. They are not ambassadors for our country, it’s not 1974 and we are handing out flowers in Fiji, it is an important job that protects the integrity of our country. It’s law enforcement and a bloody important job.

Time and time again, as I’m sticking up for travel agents, I’m astounded by the naïveté when it comes to the value an agent offers. Whether it’s a tighter itinerary, a better hotel or some inside knowledge on a destination, I don’ need to tell you.

But the border farce article drive home that we need to sell that value better. It highlights the need for education in what we do to continually let people know about the importance of the people and travel. What you can get more website and what you will not, what you can get from a person and more.

For years I have been banging on that agents do not do this enough.

These people in customs don’t have the chance to explain that to every traveller because every traveller is exhausted, stinky, on a different time zone and regretting the fourth red that was meant to numb the pain for 14 hours of economy travel. Travel agents do have the opportunity to build in those messages at every touch point.

So when you have at the moment, take the time to walk a mile in your customers moccasins and get a sense of what you need to convey to ensure that people understand the amazing Value the travel agents offer.


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