Life as a Travel Counsellor in Scotland
We Speak to Lesley Hill about her career within this growing market
In our regular series of speaking to industry professionals , here we speak to Milngavie based Lesley Hill of Travel Counsellors abour her career and experiences within the travel industry.
Why did you decide to work in the Travel business ?
It wasn’t my long term plan – however when I graduated from Stirling University, all my friends were going travelling or heading down to London to work. I had already spent three summers working and travelling in Canada & the USA as a student, so had the “travel bug”, but also the need to pay off some of my student loans. I saw an advert in the Graduate Recruitment section of the paper, for a “Travel Consultant” for a large high street brand – based in London and thought it would give me the best of both words. Earning money and still being able to travel – hopefully with big discounts. I was right and I made the move south to London and made the most out of the discounts available – I think I was away every six weeks at one point.
How Long have you worked in the Travel Industry ?
I have been researching and planning amazing holidays for my customers for just over 20 years now.
Are you office based ?
Yes, I have a lovely bright office in the house – looking out to a fantastic back garden. I have my laptop on a VPN with all the booking systems at hand. I have a VIOP phone which means I can plug it in to any router and receive calls even when away from home.
What are the benefits of working from home ?
The list is almost endless – however for me – the lack of commute every day is fantastic. Having spent a lot of time in my years either on tubes, trains or in a car, walking from the kitchen to the office in the house is luxury. I also set my own “task” list every day, once I have completed these I can have some “me” time. Whether this is a quick swim – a coffee with a friend or a visit to the shops. I am the master of my own day – the only person I answer to is me – so I prioritise what needs done and give myself time off afterwards. I am also able to spend more time my family and help with the homework and taking the kids to the various after school activities and clubs. There seems to be less of a rush and a much easier pace to life.
What is a normal day for you at work ?
I have breakfast with the kids at home, then we walk – rain, hail or shine, down to the school in the morning. I am usually back home and at my desk between 9.15 and 9.30. I can check my e.mails on my phone before I get home to make sure there isn’t anything that needs immediate attention. I then spend some time checking my inbox for new quotes and working on existing quotes. I make some outgoing calls to existing customers and send e-shots and ask my customers for referrals. My business relies on word of mouth and referrals and I will never lose sight of that. I sometimes have webinars and meetings to attend via Skype. There are always training modules to do, learning about new destinations and new products is a fantastic part of the job. I normally have a quick lunch, then perhaps a walk or a quick swim for an hour. The afternoon is spent on quotes or updating my facebook page with the latest special offer. The kids are home before you know it and the homework etc starts. I can sometimes finish off quotes in the evening and speak to customers after 8pm too. No day is the same and I love the variety.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get a career as a Travel Counsellor ?
It is a big step – going from a salaried retail job, to a commission based self-employed Travel Counsellor. It took me nearly three years to make the leap, but I have not looked back. It is hard work, commitment and needs good time management. The rewards for me are being able to walk the kids to school every day, have MUCH more time with the family – time off at weekends to be able to be flexible and enjoy life. I would say to anyone thinking about it to visit head office in Manchester – see for yourself, the back-up and support as well as the technology that will be available to you. Give it a go – as you will never know until you have tried it.