Monday, 2 March 2015
It has always been a dream of mine to travel the world and as a result I decided to follow my dream and to pursue a career in travel. I initially wanted to be an air hostess but realised that it wouldn't be a feasible career for me, so I entered the travel world as a retail consultant as I absolutely love people and wanted to be dealing with them. I started working at a retail travel agency and then later moved to a more corporate office. I later left that and opened my own franchise in Benoni but this didn't work out so I went back to work at the corporate travel agency.
I began thinking about joining Travel Counsellors in 2008. I had seen all the adverts and there was a lady who I worked with whose sister had just become a Travel Counsellor and she kept telling me how much she loved it and how succesful she was.
What prompted me to start thinking about Travel Counsellors was that I needed a change in my lifestyle; the long hours were getting to me. I often had to work until 10 or 11pm at night, just depending on what needed to be done. I had to work both weekends and public holidays just to keep up to date with my work. This frustrated me as it was taking me away from my family. It meant that I was the parent who could never attend school functions and I resented missing out.
My biggest fear in joining was - would I make it? Would I survive without a fixed income? I didn't really have a client base so where would I get the sales? But looking back now I am so pleased that I did it as I am earning may more than I had expected.
I wanted to do something for myself so I signed up to attend the Travel Counsellors roadshow. I loved what I saw and I then contacted head office again for some more information and by this time I was sold - I knew it was for me.
I was attracted to Travel Counsellors as I knew that I could still work very professionally from home, and have more time to better service my clients. I would have the flexibility which meant that I could be there for my family and to attend school functions but still be there for my clients. I loved the camaraderie that I could see in Travel Counsellors and I loved the fact that everyone stands together and that I am never on my own.
The best advice that I was given when I was thinking about joining Travel Counsellors was to follow my dreams and to not be afraid. I was challenged to move out of my comfort zone and I knew I wouldn't be on my own.
Working as a Travel Counsellor is very different to being a travel agent. I now have more time for my customers and it's not all about price. I have the time to spend with them, to really listen to what they want and to find out about the experience they are looking for. I am then able to go away and to do the research and find exactly what they want. I'm able to do far more for my clients than I was able to do before and I now have the time that I can give to my family. My client relationships have changed. Before it was impersonal and it was all about gtting them the information in the quickest time. But now with the additional time that I have and with the support and tools offered by Travel Counsellors, I can really get to know them better. My clients have now become close friends and I know them so well.
At first I found the transition from being employed to being self-employed difficult, but as I got the hang of it and I learned the new systems, the transition was simple. I love the Travel Counsellor buddy system. If I need time out to attend a school function or to do something personal then I love the fact that I can phone my buddy and ask them to take care of my clients while i'm unavailable. My buddy works in the same manner I do, offering the same level of customer service - so it's an easy win.
My proudest moments are always when I get a compliment from a client and whn they thank me for the work that I have done for them. On a personal level I set myself a target to achieve gold status within five years and I achieved this within three years. This was a phenomenal achievement to me.
I have been blown away by the friendships that I have made at Travel Counsellors. It is absolutely awesome and there is such a special family feeling, it is quite remarkable and I have never experienced this at another company before. The highlight of my year is always the Travel Counsellors annual conference where Travel Counsellors from around the country all get together - the buzz is just incredible. Even the relationships that I have with the Travel Counsellors head office team is just like family. I love that they are there for me - cheering me on, encouraging me, challenging me and helping me to realise my dreams.
My customers would describe me as being customer orientated, reliable, fast, efficient and friendly. Something that they really appreciate is that I am available to them outside of office hours. I have clients (doctors) who don't have the time flexibility and who can't meet with me during the day so they really appreciate the fact that I can visit them at their homes in the evening and go through all their travel requirements with them.
Working from home has made it very easy for me to rescue clients. I once had a client phone at 2am - the customer had arrived at the hotel but the hotel couldn't find them on their reservation system and they wanted my client to pay again. My client called me to see what I could do. Despite the accommodation having been already booked, paid for and confirmed, I was able to call the hotel, speak to the manager and to send them all the proof and to get my client checked into the hotel. My clients keep coming back to me as service is everything to them.
The training at head office is excellent and it keeps getting better. I would rate it 10/10. I love the various forms of training that are offered, from the eLearning which I can do in my own time, the investment that the company has made into my business with Anthony Iannarino and the regular road shows that we have. I absolutely love the road shows and getting together with the key head office staff - they encourage us, motivate us and show us new tools and train us on how to be better at what we do. They show us how we can earn more, they inform us of new deals and we get to meet with our Travel Counsellor colleagues and brainstorm ideas. I find this very beneficial.
Something that I really like about Travel Counsellors is the fact that we are free to sell many suppliers and we don't have to work with preferred suppliers only, they simply have to be approved and this is due to our financial protection plan, which protects my clients' money in the event of a supplier failure. This now opens a much wider variety of property choices as well as a most varied option of prices. I now have a much better chance of finding exactly what my client is looking for. Before, with the limited range of product, I could only offer my clients the closest option but often not exactly how they wanted. Plus they have the added benefit of being financially protected.
It's amazing to look back on how I have overcome my fears of not making it, I am so pleased that I took the leap. I am running a very successful business and over the past two years my sales have kept doubling year on year. I am earning more than three times than in my previous role and my client base keeps growing which helps my earnings to keep growing. If I was to give anyone who was thinking about Travel Counsellors any advice I would say - if you think that you have it in you to run your own business and it is a dream of yours then follow your dream; you won't look back!