What better way to celebrate your first-year anniversary of being a travel consultant, than being featured in the news. Julie MacDonald joined us a year ago, after 20 years in finance, and was featured in the Edinburgh news this week!
Julie says in the article, ‘Holidays will never be the same again’. She goes on to say, ‘Attention to detail has never been more important than now.’ Which means people are thinking more carefully about their choices. Good news for personal travel consultants.
Julie admits that, ‘It’s been a tough few months but the experience is something that can only strengthen the company.’ You can read the full Edinburgh News article here.
We were also keen to catch-up with Julie a year on, here is what she said…
How has your lifestyle changed since starting a travel business?
I’m much less stressed. I’m enjoying my day-to-day much more. When working in finance, all my spare time was spent travelling, sorting through photo books, helping friends plan their holiday. Now I’m doing something I’m really passionate about all the time. It doesn’t really feel like work.
I get a real buzz out of helping people with their trips, even a year on. I’m so much happier. I’m working longer hours than I was in finance, but it’s my choice to do so, as it doesn’t feel like work to me.
When I was working in the finance industry I would always have a minimum of 5 trips to look forward to, it was my way of feeling positive about what was ahead. I needed my holidays to almost get me through life. I still have a desire to travel now, but I don’t feel the need as much as before. I’m so much happier now so I don’t have the need for escapism.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give yourself if you could go back to when you first started?
I would tell myself to have more confidence to pick up the phone and talk to people. To have more belief in the value I am adding as a travel consultant, that people really do want my service.
I’ve done holiday bookings in the past where I’ve not spoken to people, it was all just done via email or Facebook. I’ve found over time that being on the phone was a far better way to deal with bookings, for both sides. Customers would hear the passion in my voice, we’d connect on a deeper level and the outcome would be better.
Since the lockdown, I’m now doing more Zoom calls which are an even better way to connect with my customers.
The last few months have been tough for everyone in the travel industry, what has been the key takeaway for you?
I’ve witnessed such a willingness of people across the travel industry to help me find the best thing for the customer, to work together to find solutions. I’ve had a few customer bookings for September and October, which were big trips, where the customers wanted to move to 2021.
The suppliers and tour operators have been so willing to help me and to accommodate. The extent of the suppliers’ flexibility is somewhat a pleasant surprise.
The key takeaway has been the importance of building strong relationships with holiday suppliers and having them on side. I now have a go-to person for each supplier. Relationships that I’ve built up over the phone, particularly in the last few months.
What would your advice be to anyone out there contemplating their next steps post-COVID-19?
There are always going to be challenges when starting a business whether it is pre or post COVID. I’d advise working your network of friends, families, ex-colleagues, fitness class friends, whoever you can. I’d also say having belief in yourself is key. But also to have patience, as the success comes with time.
Because of what happened in the last few months I have more belief in myself than I did before this all happened. I’ve realised just how resilient and knowledgeable I am.
It’s always a choice we have to take positives when things are tough. I always say, ‘Every challenge is an opportunity.’