Posted 06 December 2014
Ask anyone in the travel industry what they love about their job and you’ll get a resounding selling travel . I loved to find the perfect holiday for customers, from the glamorous and glitzy metropolis of Los Angeles to the sublime shores of the Caribbean I made dreams come true and I loved it. Yes, that’s right, loved it. Past tense.
I can remember when I fell out of love with travel. I’d actually go as far as saying I grew to hate my job. I’d spent 10 happy years with a well known travel giant but when I was promoted to manager it did change. Not only was it quite a commute from my home in Southport but I was also removed from what I loved about my job – selling travel. My days became filled with staffing headaches, endless admin and operational issues. When I did manage to find the time to help out with a customer enquiry, I was restricted to the company's portfolio which didn’t quite feel right as it seemed less about what the customer wanted and more about what the company wanted to sell - round pegs, square holes.
Frustrated, tired and feeling pretty miserable I started looking for a new adventure just 7 years after being promoted. I wanted a role that I could once again enjoy but also supported us financially – of course, being from the travel industry already it was the obvious place to start looking. After all, that was my first love (after my wife that is). After exploring my options, Travel Counsellors seemed to be a perfect fit. I took some time to visit head office and was immediately met with a warm welcome and friendly people. I was able to spend as much time as I felt I needed with the recruitment team to understand how I could make this happen, from the support (which I can now tell you is unrivalled) and the depth of training and resources available, to the unique and personal support given so freely by both established Travel Counsellors and the head office gurus.
My first few weeks were eye opening. Imagine being able to put the customer first each and every time, planning a trip bespoke to their needs, their dreams and not being restricted to a particular package or supplier. I was like a kid in a sweetshop. Today, if my customers want to glide over Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain – I ask for how long. If they want sun loungers with real mattresses – I ask how deep. And if they want hotels with blackout curtains so the kids lie in or an ice cold mojito with their favourite twist – I do my best to find just that… perfect for them, not us. I really love it. And my customers love it too which shows in my 100% customer satisfaction score (Independent net promoter score voted by my customers) – that’s higher than the likes many well respected brands. Plus, over 80% of my client base comes back year after year as loyal, repeat customers. It speaks volumes to me.
Getting it right for the customer, whilst loving what I do not only makes me feel empowered but genuinely excited about what the next day will bring. But none of this would have been possible without the unbelievable support of head office. They manage all of my admin post booking, allowing me to concentrate on the customer. Before I joined, I wondered how I would adjust to working from home without a large team around me in the office, but there is always someone available on our internal message boards and video chat for support and advice, whether that’s someone in the office or another Travel Counsellor on the other side of the world. I never feel alone. What’s also great is that the whole business lives and breathes our strapline ‘with us... it’s personal’. And with us it really is personal. Put the customer first, not the product. Put the customer first, not a sales target. Put the customer first and you’ll learn to love your job again, just like me.
So, what does my success look like? I managed to reach my goals quite quickly but I’m always pushing myself to achieve more, and this is something Travel Counsellors has supported. And just like Travel Counsellors as a company I never sit back on my laurels. The business development team work with me every day to set achievable goals which really help to motivate me year after year. My success and earnings is down to doing what I really love, putting the customer at the centre of what I do, being in charge of my own business, and having the freedom and support I need to succeed, my way. Today, I’ve been a Travel Counsellor for over 15 years and with over 1,400 global Travel Counsellor colleagues rooting for me and over 200 head office staff, I’ve never been happier and neither has my family.