Confronting Obstacles Head On

An interview with Donna Kessler, Director & Owner 

At a young age, I faced adversity, losing my mother in tragic circumstances. I was a lonely and awkward child, not particularly academic. However, adversity taught me powerful lessons that continue to shape my life.

My journey towards self-discovery began with a family holiday to Hawaii and an overseas study experience, which ignited my passion for travel, ultimately leading to the career I now enjoy. I found my “WHY” – a strong motivation for personal growth, education, and independence. I believe in myself and understand that my success and happiness depend on my choices, driven by core values of honesty, integrity, and hard work.

I’ve embraced opportunities and letting experiences shape me. Starting as a part-time waitress at Hilton’s Airport Hotel in Sydney, I then moved into the Global Sales office  where I worked there for 18 years, rising to the role of National Director of Sales Australia.

My father’s wisdom has guided me. it was he who encouraged me to do the work others avoid.  Reflecting on my journey, I’ve learned to make educated decisions, stay focused in crises, and embrace my role as a work in progress. Surrounding myself with loyal, respectful individuals motivates me, as I believe in learning from all generations.

Challenges and setbacks have taught me resilience, determination, and the importance of a meaningful life.

In moments of self-doubt, I remind myself, “Why not me?” I am a continuous work in progress, striving to make life meaningful.

This is how Donna Kessler has grown the Tourism Portfolio and fulfils her why. We are in the market and on the ground to assist you, the event planner, with your event whether it’s within Australia or internationally. Established in 2002, Tourism Portfolio is the leading representation company in Australia because we have consistently exceeded our clients’ expectations.

Tell us about a significant challenge in your business, and how your ‘Why’ help you overcome it?

Without doubt, hands down it would have to be COVID 19 . The tourism industry came to a grinding halt. I work in the business tourism area of tourism that is, events, meetings and conferencing. No one was running an in person event, nothing was happening at all.

My business was largely in shut down. This was where my WHY was instrumental for me to get through this time. Those core beliefs, grit and determination definitely paid off. With no real end in sight, the focus had to be what I could control.

How could I navigate the business through this time? 

Many of my competitors hibernated however I was determined this would be an opportunity for me to stay connected to our clients and customers. I was mindful that I had staff and felt hugely responsible for their personal situations.

To ensure revenue was incoming I also worked in a Vaccination Call Centre during this time – I had to pay the bills and support the team. It was that grit and determination that drove this. I cleared the Boardroom and hired Gym equipment and made this available for those who chose to use it. Exercise is a great motivator and we managed a timetable that assisted those who wanted to use it.

Tourism Portfolio is a consultancy company that works with external clients driving conference and meeting opportunities from our database customers to their venue, destination or hotel. I’m very fortunate I have represented a large many of these clients for over 10 years and through these relationships they continued to contribute to support us during this time.

Although we couldn’t physically meet and connect with our customers we developed a detailed plan on how we would connect and engage in a fun memorable way ensuring our clients remained front of mind and our customers educated on what was happening around the world and they remained front of mind for when the borders reopened.

Our clients understand my WHY and my core beliefs.

As a result, staying focused we have weathered the storm. I now have a fantastic business partner and the business is in a growth period. We have some new projects in the wind and I couldn’t be happier!