Agent Becky Lockley enjoyed a 22-year career working on the high street before becoming a Personal Travel Agent last November. Hours after launching, she had her first booking and seven bookings later, that same customer surprised the homeworker with an overwhelming act of kindness
Q. What did you do before becoming a Personal Travel Agent?
A. In 1995, before my 16th birthday, I started at Going Places. Three years later I became an assistant manager. I moved around at Going Places before becoming a branch manager at Newton Abbott. The store was 45th out of 45 in the region in terms of sales performance but I managed to turn it round in the first 12 months and get it up to fifth place. I loved managing a team, but I preferred working with customers.
Q. Why did you become a PTA nearly a year ago?
A. Working in a high street store involves a lot of paperwork. My heart really lay with the customer, and I wanted to make a change after 22 years, but I was fearful of making that step without my salary. I weighed it up for about two years before switching to The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel. Before changing jobs, a new neighbour moved in next door. She persuaded me to speak to her best friend Suzanne Wren about being a homeworker. She runs her own business through the Personal Travel Agents, and gave me advice.
Q. When did you take your first booking?
A. Within hours of starting I booked a businessman, Richard Stoker, on a trip to Paris. He really liked that I was going it alone. As a businessman himself, he encourages local companies. He travels a lot for work and has booked eight trips with me over an 11-month period.
Q. Where did your customer travel to?
A. Richard booked Paris, Austria, New York, Dubai, Muscat, Oman and Kuwait, Iceland, and a trip to Tel Aviv and Istanbul. The bookings could be anything from a work trip to a late-night hotel booking in Liverpool because he is a Liverpool fan and might call me after a match at Anfield.
Q. What happened when he booked the eighth trip within a year?
A. He asked me to book Boringdon Hall Hotel & Spa, near Plymouth. He was adamant it had to be a Sunday. He said thank you for helping over the past year and that he knew the time and effort I had put into the bookings. Then he wished me happy birthday and said he was sending my partner and I to Boringdon Hall for my birthday, in August. I was overwhelmed.
Q. How was your birthday trip?
A. It was stunning. Boringdon Hall is a really old building. It has one of the best spas in Devon and one of the best restaurants in the UK. The room was fantastic and there was champagne and balloons when we arrived. I’ll be going back.
Q. Do you have a message for any aspiring homeworkers?
A. The buzz you get once you have taken that step is worth 10 times the fear you might feel making the move. I was worried about not having my salary from the shop but looking back I cannot believe I doubted myself. I knew within 48 hours I had made the right decision and it’s followed on fromthere. In my first year I beat my half a million turnover target, reaching £600,000. I’m ecstatic with how it has all turned out and the business can grow and grow.
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