The Morrell of the story...

19 May 2014

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Jen from Brice & Turner Travel Associates shares an uplifting story about a couple of her clients and their altruistic adventure. Working at Travel Associates, I am lucky to have an array of interesting and lovely clients. There is one couple in particular who have really made an impression on me, and many others for that matter...

Back in 2011, I received a phone call from a man named Mike Morrell, looking to book business flights to South Africa. With so many other travel arrangements to make that day, I quickly serviced the booking for Mr Morrell so he would soon he would be on his way.

From that point onwards, Mike and his wife Diane, began phoning every couple of months, always to arrange flights to Africa. I wondered why there were going back and forth between the same destination each time and so proceeded to ask Diane, "What is it you do in Africa?".

Nothing could have prepared my for Diane's response. She revealed to me that her and Mike had started a business called Jazz Matrix. Their product, Genie ID, is an identification technology which has the potential to transform the voting system in Africa and minimise electoral fraud. This was not your average holidaying husband and wife. The couple have always had a vision: to give everyone in Africa a voice and facilitate the people's right to vote.

The device they've invented takes the voter's photo and allows personal information to be attributed to the photo. It then prints out a personal identification card. When election rolls around, the voter presents their card and registers their vote easily and electronically, simultaneously minimising  possible corruption of paper votes.

As if this isn't enough, the Morrell's ensure they offer this service to the small tribes living hundreds of kilometres from polling offices, with no electricity. They have developed portable solar panels to charge the devices. Diane and Mike travel personally to these remote villages to train a member of the tribe in the technology and leave them in charge of the equipment. This sense of ownership and leadership is a special gift in itself.  On a follow-up visit, Diane learned that the person she had trained  was so proud of his ability to help his village that he covered the equipment with his only t-shirt, to keep it free from dust and dirt.

So amazing is the Genie ID, that the Morrell's are fighting off rival companies, trying to push them out of the picture with similar technology. Mike and Diane have been fighting for seven years to win the main voting contract in Africa, and in a destination where corruption can be rife, the battle is not over yet.

In a different travel agency, I wouldn't have been able to get to know the Morrells the personal way I have at Travel Associates. The focus is less on transactions, and more on getting to know the customer.  Now I can offer excellent customer service and spend quality time with my clients, getting to understand their travel motives, without feeling guilty or pressured to move on to the next booking.  Our office in Currambine is private and peaceful,  and offers a nice space where I talk to the Morrell's properly and learn more about their vision.

Mike and Diane are truly the most inspirational people I have ever met. I was so touched recently, when they said I was playing a part in their project and indirectly helping to change lives as well. To have come across such motivating people through my work is such a delight. It is people like them, that makes working in travel so rewarding.

Find out more about Jen phone 1800 605 044.