Being made redundant while on maternity leave was a blessing in disguise for homeworker Britt-Marie Monks, who has built a successful business in less than two year. Samantha Mayling reports
Q. How did you start in travel?
A. I have a sales background and was on maternity leave from my job as an events account manager for TalkTalk when I was made redundant. I wanted to set up my own business, so I did a lot of research, asked for advice from friends and family, and did training courses. I’ve travelled a lot, lived abroad and have a passion for travel. I started a Not Just Travel franchise in 2016, working from home near Canary Wharf. My first booking was for a honeymoon and it grew from there. Not Just Travel was amazing for getting into travel but there came a time when I wanted to be independent, so I joined Midcounties Co-operative Travel and set up on my own.
Q. How did your business develop?
A. I did wedding fairs and got a reputation through word-of-mouth recommendations with clients around London and the southeast. I am a member of the National Association of Wedding Professionals and attend lots of wedding shows, which generates a lot of business. The Midcounties conference in Cyprus last November was very useful for meeting suppliers. They have been very supportive, encouraging and inclusive, offering lots of help and advice. I did an interview with a bridal magazine. They called me ‘The Honeymoon Fixer’. It became my business name, and I branched out with The Holiday Fixer, a subsidiary that offers luxury family holidays and ski trips. Most customers who book a honeymoon also become customers for holidays. One couple I met at a wedding fair had multiple honeymoons in one year – they had a main honeymoon in Malaysia, a second in Mexico, then mini-moon weekend breaks. They are now planning a holiday in Bermuda. Honeymoons and high-end is my main source of business, but I can sell any destination. I booked a trip to Jersey recently. It wasn’t my usual long-haul holiday, but the client will come back to me for other holidays. I do boutique weddings for groups of about 10-15, and hen and stag parties too.
Q. How have you managed family life?
A. Juggling motherhood and the business has been very hard. I started when my daughter was 15 months, but she is my ‘get-up-and-go’. She knows when I am on the phone and she will pretend to be on the phone too and is excited for me – it would be amazing to hand over the business to her eventually.
Q. How do you develop your skills and knowledge?
A. I have a lot of customer service and sales experience, but I increase my own product knowledge with training. When we have our family holidays, three or four times a year, I do site visits, looking at hotel rooms – it’s like my own fam trip on my own holiday. ‘Familymoons’ are very popular and families don’t want the traditional honeymoon destinations, so I can recommend places that are very good quality.
Q. How is business?
A. January was very busy but not everyone was booking – but February has seen a turnaround, as people seem sick of Brexit and are not putting their lives on hold. I want to keep growing and expanding my brand. I keep setting myself five-year goals then reaching them in two years – it’s been a whirlwind two years, with hard work, luck and being in the right place at the right time.
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