Good agents come in small packages – both in the size of their business and their stature – says the Global homeworker.
Q. How did you become a travel agent?
A. It was quite an unusual way into travel. I used to teach English as a foreign language, visited 50 countries and lived in 10. I taught in Russia, Ukraine, China and Japan, where I was known as a ‘professor’. When I go networking, I say that’s my market research. I have a real passion for travelling, so wanted to work in the industry.
Q. How has setting up a business been?
A. I’m based at my house, so I don’t have the footfall you get from a shop. Lots of people have suggested a retail space – and we will see. But at the moment, there are no plans. My parents have helped a lot. They are co-directors and help me with VAT returns.
Q. Is business going well?
A. Yes. I’ve hired Corinne Rowlands, who has 18 years’ experience in travel and has worked at Tui, to help me. She’s brilliant and brings a lot of experience.
Q. You recently won an award…
A. I was named honeymoon planner of the year 2017 at the Welsh Wedding Awards, from 10 finalists. It was a huge honour, being such a small, independent business. It should help with exposure.
Q. Are you a honeymoon specialist?
A. I enthuse over holidays and ideas that are outside the box – and that’s what my clients get from me. Honeymoons are often a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, so there is crossover. I’ve skied since I was seven, so I sell a lot of ski as well. I don’t have specialist areas – it’s very much worldwide. People have booked honeymoons with me and then come back for a totally different holiday. One client went to Costa Rica, then booked an overnight to watch the tennis at Wimbledon. Since then, they’ve gone to China and the Seychelles. I’ve learned that you should never pigeonhole anyone. I had considered trying to remarket to people based on one product, but it’s not as straightforward as that.
Q. Have you got a favourite supplier?
A. One of my favourites is Jetset Holidays, mainly because I love its system. Visions of Africa is great as well. I went on a fam trip with them – it always helps when you’ve been away with an operator. I also like Club Med, Olympic Holidays and Travel 2. It’s not about how much commission they pay, it’s about making sure the product is right for the client.
Q. As a home-based operation, how do you get your name out there?
A. I do a lot of networking and have had a lot of support from the local paper. Word-of-mouth referrals are also important. My parents spend six months a year in Spain and find me clients over there. I haven’t done a lot on social media, but I’m just starting to do more. When you are small, you have to think about the best use of resources. For me, face-to-face is best, as clients understand what I’m all about. It’s hard to get your passion across on social media. I think people appreciate the work of a travel agent after they experience it. They come back after they have seen the value that we add.
Q. Are you a consortium member?
A. I’m with Global. Being part of a consortium has filled me with confidence that you shouldn’t worry about being small – you still get good rates. It’s about having the confidence to say: ‘I am good, I can do this.’ Good things come in small packages. But I would say that – I’m 5ft 1in.
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