What do a police chief superintendent, a speech therapist, a restaurateur, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a supermarket chain social secretary have in common? They have all given up those careers to become travel agents.

Some made the switch years ago, others more recently – in the case of the policewoman, just three weeks ago.

But all those agents I met at the Global Travel Group Conference in Dubai had one thing in common: a desire to work in an industry selling people their dreams.

Entering the travel industry can be seen as an easy lifestyle choice, but all of the eclectic mix of Global members I spoke to had genuine drive to grow their businesses and make money.

Whether running high street shops, operating specialist websites or working from home, this entrepreneurial group of agents showed a determination to flourish.

Some of the more experienced admitted they were working harder than ever to succeed.

Others newer to the sector agreed they’d been surprised by the level of training and groundwork required to establish their databases.

But all were at the conference to be inspired and to learn how to make progress with their ventures.

And as our interview with Travel Up founder Ali Shah shows, it is possible to build a business from scratch – in his case from his front room and without a strong grasp of English.

The key to success is constant learning, innovation and differentiation – that, and a good dose of hard graft.