My Travel Story
While MTA- Mobile Travel Agents Member, Desley Ryan will tell you that joining MTA is the best decision she ever made, the reality is she would probably never have enjoyed a career in travel if it hadn’t have been for a decision her father made on her behalf many years ago.
Growing up in Biloela, a small rural town in Shire of Banana, Central Queensland, unbeknown to her, her father Frederick Leader, the town’s ambulance superintendent, was advised there was an opening for his then teenager daughter in the local bakery.
Dad had other plans and rather than tell Desley about the role, he persuaded her to stay on at school where she enrolled in commercial studies before being offered a role as an assistant with the local newsagency. But this was no ordinary newsagency.
Being a bit of a local hub, the Biloela newsagency in those days also served as the local sports store and managed the townspeople’s travel requirements.
And just two weeks after taking on the role and putting her commercial studies to good use, Desley found herself promoted into the agency’s airline department and managing bookings for regional carrier, Queensland Airlines, then owned by the legendary Sir Syd Williams, the man attributed with putting Far North Queensland on the tourist map.
And once bitten with the travel bug Desley never looked back.
“In those days, everything was done manually with Queensland Airlines and we also had the Avis rent a car franchise but not a lot of international travel took place in those days,” she says.
Gradually, travel became more popular and more readily accessible to people and Desley’s little corner office gradually turned into an official agency with her as the only travel consultant.
“Our reservations system in those days was a time call to Ansett Airlines in Rockhampton at 3.00pm each day. The reservation system was a huge ‘lazy Susan’ type wheel which housed all the cards with the different flights and days.
“They would note all the bookings as we gave them- then finally we got a telex machine. I can still picture that day – no more 3.00pm time calls – and we could telex the bookings through as they came in.
“People started to travel more and our reference books were called the Official Airline Guide. We had two, one for the USA and the other for the rest of the world and these were our bibles.
“All the fares were printed there, there were no questions asked, the price was the price. I think from memory there were four seasons listed and those days all tickets had to be hand written and if you made a mistake on the last one you had to cancel them all and start again.
“It was very stressful particularly if you had a very complicated itinerary.”
When the computer age finally hit business increased along with it and Desley’s agency became one of the foundation members of the ‘Ask Mr Travel ‘group, the forerunner to UTAG and eventually Helloworld.
In January 1988, Desley and her husband Martin Ryan bought an agency in Biloela where they became the airline agent for Sunstate Airlines and took on the Budget Rent a Car franchise.
When Martin passed away in December 1988, son Kevin joined the team and together they continued to run that agency for another 10 years.
“These were great years looking back, although very long hours.”
Desley decided to sell the agency in 1997 and moved to Brisbane where she continued to work in the retail travel sector for another eight years as a senior travel consultant, eventually becoming an agency manager.
This was followed by a move to the Gold Coast where she worked for another five years before joining MTA.
“And finally, after all those years I am now able to work from home and continue in the career L love so much,” she says.
“At the age of 64 I can work from home and continue in the career than I had chosen for my life while still allowing time for my church, my other main interest.
“This was one of the best decisions I have made, MTA Travel has certainly given me this wonderful opportunity to do this. They are the best people to work with.”
We like to think Desley’s dad would be very proud of her decision making.