After a local travel agency went bankrupt leaving many locals high and dry, Travel Counsellor Charmaine Hopgood was able to build trust with locals while building her own business at the same time.   

Colac-based travel expert Charmaine Hopgood has been a Travel Counsellor for two years and believes one of the most important things she sells isn’t a travel product, but trust.

When a local travel agency went bust, many residents of the small, regional Victorian city of Colac were devastated. Losing hard-earned money that they’d saved for their holidays, many were left with their travel dreams in tatters through no fault of their own.  

With trust low, Charmaine set to work, assisting frustrated locals with their holiday plans with no expectation of receiving a commission. This experience led Charmaine to say goodbye to working in retail travel agencies and start the journey of setting up her own work-from-home travel enterprise.

Joining the family

Working in the travel industry as a consultant and manager for 20 years, Charmaine knew she was ready to run her own business but unsure of how to go about it. Should she buy a franchise? Set up her own independent agency? Or join a home working travel business network? 

After researching all her options thoroughly, Charmaine decided Travel Counsellors was for her after being impressed with the recruitment process and the positive interactions she had with head office staff, especially Kerryn Murphy.

Upon contacting Travel Counsellors, Charmaine was immediately made to feel welcome, as though she had already joined. After that, things only got better and better.

“The first Travel Counsellors conference I attended really blew me away. It was such an informative conference and fun weekend. In my 20 years in the industry, never had I attended such an amazing conference,” says Charmaine.

In Charmaine, we trust

Gaining the trust of locals was always going to be key to Charmaine’s success. Considering many hardworking members of the community had had their trust shattered by a travel agency before, Charmaine had her work cut out for her. Showing clients that she was trustworthy, genuine and invested in their travel plans paid off, with her business growing steadily since opening.

Providing a high level of personalised service to her clients is important to Charmaine, so she structures her day to ensure her clients can book in for one-on-one personal appointments. With one consultant handling all their queries at all times, Charmaine’s clients have not only returned again and again, but referred their friends and family also.

“The majority of my business is based on repeats and referrals, rather than walk-ins. I don’t experience many clients wanting to get a quote from any other agency, as they trust that I will give them the best price. They know that they mean more to me than just a monthly commission cheque,” says Charmaine.

Living the dream

Many agents contemplate running their own business, drawn to the flexibility that comes with working their own hours from a home office. Apart from relishing the freedom that comes with running her own show, Charmaine thrives on the supportive culture that Travel Counsellors fosters. 

“I know that I mean more to the Travel Counsellors brand. I’m not just a staff member on an employer’s books, I am part of the incredibly supportive Travel Counsellors family.” 

Counting herself as one of the few people who are able to say that they love their work, Charmaine’s passion for providing her clients with the very best travel service is clear.  

“I have always dreamed of owning my business, but I never thought it would become a reality. I have grown and learned so much more about the industry since joining Travel Counsellors, but the best part is that I don’t feel as though I’m showing up to work each day,” says Charmaine.

“I am being supported by Travel Counsellors to do something that I love - not many of my family or friends can say they enjoy going to work every day!”

If you want to start your travel business with a company that puts people at the heart of everything they do, take a look at our Opportunities page to find the right start for you. 

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