After being made redundant in 2020, London-based agent Emma Diamond joined Travel Counsellors and her business is within the top 10% after just one year. She spoke to Samantha Mayling
Q. Why did you join Travel Counsellors?
A. I started in September 2020 after being made redundant during the pandemic in August 2020. I’d been at Flight Centre for five years and saw redundancy coming while I was on furlough. I spoke to Travel Counsellors, who answered all my questions and were very understanding and helpful. After training in September, I went live in October 2020.
Q. How do you market yourself?
A. It’s very much phone-based, with calls or WhatsApp, and I’m building my brand on social media. People can see online how I travel and that I’m a real person. I get enough enquiries through Instagram and use LinkedIn for announcements such as hitting Gold. Google My Business is good for local enquiries here in east London and it’s free. Agents are more important now for people who want to spend a bit more for security and expertise. My clients are a mix of families, young couples, older people, honeymooners and stag and hen parties.
People can see online how I travel and that I’m a real person. I get enough enquiries through Instagram and use LinkedIn for announcements
Q. Are there any really memorable bookings?
A. The first booking was for the UK, as it was all we could do at the time, for my friend’s mum’s friend. It was a week in St Leonards-on-Sea – I was nervous as I took the booking at 10pm at home, but it was exciting. I’m lucky with my clients being high-end, so premium leisure is my speciality. I booked a £65,000 Antarctica holiday; a Maldives booking for £35,000; and a holiday to Mauritius for 12 people that was £45,000. I’ve also booked a honeymoon to Uganda. At Flight Centre I was an Asia and Africa specialist; now I send people to all corners of the globe. It’s been a steep learning curve.
The first booking was for the UK, as it was all we could do at the time, for my friend’s mum’s friend. It was a week in St Leonards-on-Sea
Q. How do your ‘TC babes’ help you?
A. In August-September 2021, I was stressed and busy. I’d met a couple of Travel Counsellors and messaged on Instagram for advice then joined their WhatsApp group and they helped me, they’re lovely. There are eight of us and we met in January for the first time. We’re colleagues but also friends. It’s through one of them that I now have Michelle Ralph, who works for me as my after-sales admin manager. She sorts special requests, sends out documents, adds extras such as airport hotels, car parking and insurance – makes sure all my ducks are in a row. She lifts a lot from me so I can focus on sales and marketing and help with problems that arise when people are travelling. She’s the best investment.
A Maldives fam trip in November to see Sun Siyam Resorts was the best ever – we did four islands in 10 days. I sell a lot of Maldives and love Sun Siyam Resorts
Q. Have you travelled much as a travel counsellor?
A. I tried a working holiday at my dad’s flat in Spain last July but I ended up just working all the time, as I was so busy. I went to Majorca with friends, but struggled to switch off – but when I was on a cruise, there was no signal so I had to stop working. It was a Norwegian Getaway sailing from Rome for agents and I have quoted clients for NCL cruises since. I won a trip to Madeira in October and managed to switch off. Madeira had never been on my radar before but it was amazing and I loved it. I posted a lot and that generated lots of interest.
A Maldives fam trip in November to see Sun Siyam Resorts was the best ever – we did four islands in 10 days. I sell a lot of Maldives and love Sun Siyam Resorts. This year, I will go on Gold trips with Travel Counsellors; Ibiza with my partner; a Greek villa holiday with friends; and my cousin’s wedding in New York at the end of the year. My boyfriend has been a great support and very understanding of my long hours, but I do need to get more of a work-life balance.
I have taken on a travel counsellor who is a corporate travel specialist, and a leisure travel counsellor will join my team at the end of April
Q. How do you plan to grow your business?
A. Building a team is my next step; I want Travel Counsellors agents to join my team. It might be they want extra work and I can give them the opportunity. I have taken on a travel counsellor who is a corporate travel specialist, and a leisure travel counsellor will join my team at the end of April. I am on track to sell more than £2 million in holidays this year. Being made redundant was the best thing that happened to me.
How did you reach Gold status in October 2021?
Gold status meant my business was within the top 10% of the company. By February 2022, I had booked £1 million worth of holidays in the past year. It has been crazily busy. I had two other part-time jobs when I started with Travel Counsellors – with the finance department of a healthcare company and I was also a PA for a while.
At first, I was doing Travel Counsellors work in the evenings, but then I dropped those other jobs by May 2021 to focus on my business. Family and friends recommended me, and I built my network while people were not travelling.
Running ads on Facebook built up my customers quickly and it snowballed. I posted offers and information about travel restrictions
I joined a women’s networking group called Athena and did social media posts and training. Running ads on Facebook built up my customers quickly and it snowballed. I posted offers and information about travel restrictions, keeping people informed, so they started to trust me and remember me.
Travel Counsellors kept us informed about Covid rules with a hub on the intranet, and I got news from other TCs. I started earning when people started travelling. The business exploded from June 2021 and I got referral after referral.