Angela Jiang left her career in the automotive industry to become a senior retail travel sales and marketing consultant for Fred Olsen Travel in Westbourne, Dorset. She speaks to Benjamin Coren.
Q. You’re new to the travel industry. Where did you work before?
A. I was a project manager for Volkswagen, managing its training courses. I was there for 14 months. Prior to that I was a product developer for a perfume company called So…? Fragrance, where I was developing products from start to finish.
Q. How is travel different to cars and cosmetics?
A. The biggest difference in this industry for me is that we are creating and selling personal travel experiences rather than a tangible product. Every trip enriches people’s lives. Travel makes a much bigger difference to people than what I had previously been working on.
Q. What does your job entail?
A. Day to day, I sell holidays. I’m based in the Westbourne shop. But during quiet periods, an additional part of my job is organising events, developing our social media and taking on marketing roles for the south coast. The two jobs are very different: selling requires knowledge of the destination and good people skills, whereas marketing requires business, development and marketing skills. I think the two sides complement each other.
Q. What kind of shows have you organised?
A. I organise holiday shows for the south coast. Since joining Fred Olsen eight months ago, I’ve organised a big event at Highcliffe Castle in Dorset, which brought in £12,000 worth of bookings. Operators had to go and get more brochures as the event exceeded their expectations. An event in April at an Italian villa in Westbourne attracted 350 people too. I also arrange competitions through local newspapers including the Lymington Times and the Bournemouth Echo.
Q. How have you settled in to the industry?
A. Stepping in to the travel industry was a great move for me. In terms of sales, I am currently sitting at number four on the performance chart for the whole company.
Q. You grew up in China. When did you move here?
A. I moved to the UK from Qingdao, in China’s Shandong province, in 2004, to do my master’s degree. Although I could read and write English, I couldn’t speak it very well. I did a six-month language course which allowed me to carry on with my degree in international marketing management at the University of Surrey.
Q. Do you get to travel with your job?
A. I have been to several trade conferences, including the Atas Conference, the Clia River Conference and the Advantage Conference, held this year in Cadiz. I was also lucky enough to join a recent Wendy Wu Tours fam trip to Brazil which I’d won at an OTT event in Bournemouth. I love every minute of my job and I love talking to people about travel every day.
Q. Favourite destination?
A. I loved visiting Hawaii. I deeply connected to the culture and I loved the people, the language and the spirit of it. It’s like heaven on Earth and in my three months there I went camping, hiking and did all sorts of cultural experiences. Camping was my favourite and it was so special to sleep in a hammock under the stars.
Q. Where else have you been?
A. I’ve travelled all around the world and have visited countries including Cuba, Brazil and Australia. It’s a real personal passion and now I get to talk about it every day, and that gives me real job satisfaction. When I left Volkswagen, I travelled around the US for five months, spending three months in Hawaii and two in the west of America. I explored the national parks and visited 14 different parks in one trip.
How did you make the journey from cars to travel?
When I was at Volkswagen, I didn’t feel it was where my heart was at. So, I decided to leave and do something I loved, which was travelling. At the end of my trip, I went paragliding and had an accident, which kept me at home for three months. In this time, I learnt to build websites, including a Chinese-language site for Hawaii. It’s a personal blog, but it shows my own passion and I plan to continue to develop my Chinese language blog and convert it to English. My goal is to become a Hawaii specialist.
After this period, I moved from Yorkshire to the south coast. While walking in Westbourne, near Bournemouth, I came across Fred Olsen Travel. When I went in, the manager, Gareth, was the only one in the shop. We talked about travel and I asked if he had a vacancy. He said no, but he felt my passion and background in marketing would really suit the company. I gave him my CV, which he passed on to the managing director, Steve Williams. It was via this that I received a job offer and joined the industry.