West Midlands-based Ben is just 16 weeks into a career as a travel agent, having entered the industry as a franchisee with Not Just Travel. He tells Benjamin Coren about his career change – and his aim to make a six-figure salary within three years.
Q. What’s your background?
A. When I joined Not Just Travel, 16 weeks ago, I was still working for a property development company, where I’d been a digital marketing manager for four-and-a-half years. Before that, I was in marketing for [ice skating production] Disney on Ice and previously worked for the West Midlands Police’s sports and social department. I also worked at Birmingham Hippodrome in events and hospitality for three years, which included overseas trips. My family had some villas in Turkey, so I managed the promotion and booking of those for seven years. This is bringing it all together and making my dream a reality.
Q. What trips did you arrange for the police?
A. I spent three years arranging events and trips. I sent coach-loads of officers and their families – more than 300 – on trips to Disneyland Paris. We also did Formula One trips abroad. I even did a bit of work for Newmarket Holidays as a tour guide on coach trips for a brief period.
Q. How did you juggle the two roles when you joined Not Just Travel?
A. I was selling holidays at the weekends and in the evenings alongside a full-time job. You have to commit when building a business, so I decided to take it full-time. I’m putting the hard work in, so that in a few years, I can reap the benefits. It comes down to what you want to achieve; knowing your numbers and where you want to get to is key.
Q. Why did you choose Not Just Travel?
A. I started looking last January and saw Not Just Travel’s The Travel Franchise on Facebook. I discussed it with my husband. I then visited the website of [Not Just Travel member] Go Discovery and there was a lot of content there, so I went to a ‘Discovery Day’ in Manchester. It was a big decision to spend a lot of money on the franchise. Meeting them in person was a bit of due diligence, and made the difference.
Q. How did you find the training?
A. I completed my training in July and went on the ‘Millionaires’ Retreat’ in September. In training, you meet everyone in the office and get to know the business. You also build relationships with other consultants. The retreat was for five days at Club Med in Marrakech and there were 80 consultants. There were lots of different sessions, with seminars on selling techniques. It was great to meet other consultants and to learn from each other.
Q. Is business going well?
A. From day one, I’ve had people requesting holidays. I made a decision to be full-time, so I was spreading the word that I was going to be selling travel. By the time I came out of training, I had people ready to book. Not Just Travel also has a Partners in Travel scheme – you sign up local businesses and they can earn a referral fee for getting the word out.
Q. What’s your growth plan?
A. My aim is to be able to employ someone. I want to make a six-figure salary in two to three years. Working from home was originally the draw but, once I’ve recruited someone else, the goal is to open an office. If I bring other people in, I can grow further and provide the level of service my clients deserve. My clients know me, my abilities and skills, so they tell other people.
Q. Have you got any advice to new homeworkers?
A. Do the preparation work and ensure from day one that you are ready to start taking bookings. The key is talking to people, not only as a Not Just Travel consultant, but also as a relationship manager, as you must nurture those relationships with customers. If you can relate to people and understand what to deliver, you’re two-thirds of the way there. Ultimately, people buy from people.
How has moving into homeworking changed your life?
My husband Chris and I got married a few years ago and we have started the adoption process. We hope to be sorted by April, then it’s a case of waiting to find a match. It could be a few weeks or months. I wanted to make sure the travel business was up and running so that, after paternity leave, I would be ready to go.
The lifestyle benefits are important, such as being able to be there for our child, to drop them off at school and pick them up each day. Working from home gives you that flexibility. Before joining, I’d looked at a few other franchises, but Not Just Travel seemed the best fit for me.
Having Hays in the background at Not Just Travel and having John Hays on the board provided a lot of credibility for me. And Not Just Travel’s Money Back Challenge – which means you get your franchise fee back if you hit a commission target in the first year – also helped me make my decision.
I prefer being a travel agent to my role in my last job, where I wasn’t talking to end-users of the product. With travel, I’m back in front of people; I love talking to people, getting to know them and what makes them tick.
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