Jo has been obsessed with travel for decades but her career path didn’t quite turn out as she expected when she was younger.
Watch her interview below.
Having secured a job as a travel rep early 20s, the Gulf War broke out, the role became obsolete and she ended up working for many years in various marketing roles for agencies and big corporations such as Coca-Cola and Unilever.
Eventually she moved into a marketing position with Virgin Atlantic but found the role was essentially the same, only with more exciting copy and images!
“I started to plan an exit strategy so I could really pursue my passion for travel about six or seven years ago. I narrowed my search down to two companies but there was something about Not Just Travel that appealed to my business personality. I think it was the entrepreneurial nature of the founders and the fact that they were on a journey too.”
Jo quit her full-time job and signed up with us five years ago, began ‘warming up’ her network during training and, with hard work, has built up a regular client base with a current repeat booking rate of around 70%.
“I did everything at the beginning. I tapped into my LinkedIn and Facebook network, I did wedding fairs, all kinds of Instagram activity and pop-up travel shops within companies, leafleting, advertising, promotions – you name it. But the bottom line is that you need people to book with you, travel with you, come back and tell people – and that takes time. Now I’ve got a regular client base; I don’t have to go out and actively market to them. I just keep in touch with them. ”
Jo’s hard work is reflected in her impressive sales figures.
“My goal for this year is a hundred thousand in commission and it’s worth noting that I will achieve that alongside another job which takes up over half my time.”
While Jo was initially working full time in her travel business, but things changed during the pandemic when flights grounded to a halt. Jo used her savings to pay herself a salary but it meant that she had to go back into work to make up the loss in income. Since Covid she’s working two to three days a week consulting and only a few days as a travel consultant.
“I’ve had to go back and do a couple of years of consulting work to just prop up what the pandemic knocked away. But I’m looking forward to when I’m able to give travel consultancy my soul focus again. I’m in my early fifties and I only intend to work in a ‘traditional job’ for maybe two or three years.
This is my pension plan. By the time I cruise into retirement, it will be generating a really good income for us, which means that we’ll be able to travel an awful lot. I won’t stop doing this because I love it. I work incredibly hard. But it doesn’t feel like a job because I’m not answering to anyone. I’m only answering to myself.”
Although Jo often works long hours, she loves the fact they are flexible.
“I start early in the morning and might take out a few hours in the middle of the afternoon so I can pick up my two boys from school and actually talk to them when they come home from school, or ferry them around to the gym or football and that sort of thing. But I stop in the evening at seven now, unless there’s something really urgent.”
“You haven’t got to be in a set location so you can do the job from anywhere. When I was on holiday in Dubai with my family I took a lot of bookings. I could do live broadcasting all before my family even woke up. I also have to travel a fair bit for work which is generally by train and it’s not uncommon for me to be putting bookings through on the train. It’s flexible and you can earn as much or as little as you want, depending on how much effort you’re prepared to put in.”
Our consultants have endless opportunities to travel and Jo has a couple of trips planned this year and next.
“There are some cracking deals. I have done a couple of short cheap cheeky cruises with friends.”
She’s currently putting together her family holiday to Costa Rica and hopes to join our Elite Experience in a mystery exotic location later in 2023.
“What’s really valuable about that is meeting other like-minded people. So I am connected to a group of travel agents who are all at similar stages in terms of time they’re been going and income generated. The group is a lifetime, we share ideas and information, check thoughts with each other and egg each other on. Finding out how others organise their business, how they run their back office that kind of thing is incredibly useful. We all learn from each other and trade information.”
“My current BDM Natalie is fabulous. I couldn’t hope for a better one. I genuinely mean it. She’s really good at making you think about what you’ve achieved and then what you’re going to do next month.
“You know you could just ring her anytime or I could WhatsApp her a little thing I need to get done and she’ll get it sorted for me. Knowing that she’s got my back actually is really reassuring because sometimes I need to do something urgently but can’t and Nat will help.
Jo, like all our consultants, sells a huge variety of holidays from our 450-plus supplier base but has her favourites – around 30 with whom she has established great relationships. She hasn’t been to all the places she sells but relies on our suppliers training and her own research.
“I sell a lot of Lapland holidays, Disney World and increasingly cruise, but also a lot of multi-centre holidays and tailor-mades – those are the ones that I love as get a real joy from planning out all the detail.”
So would she recommend others consider launching a travel consultancy from home?
“Yes as long as you don’t expect an overnight instant success. I’m not sure people would expect that, these things take time.”
Jo believes the trend for personal travel consultants is one that’s here to stay.
“If somebody could find you the perfect holiday without you having to do any of the legwork, and you could have that same holiday, at the same price as if you’d done all the work yourself – and effectively have a proactive ‘travel mum’ looking after you from beginning to end – why wouldn’t you?”