Travel consultant David Walker shares how he’s swapped a 22 year career in HR, to making over £1M in travel commissions.
David had a highly successful 22 year career working abroad in HR. But, on returning to the UK, he discovered that path was something he was no longer interested in pursuing.
After much deliberation, he decided he’d love to open his own travel agency.
There were just a few problems.
- Despite being well travelled, he’d never sold a holiday in his life.
- He had few contacts in the UK after so long living abroad.
- Setting up independently would take years and around six figures in investment.
In the video below, you’ll hear exactly how David has partnered with us to create a life-changing travel business.
One that’s now generated over £1,000,000 in commissions and – crucially – given him a renewed sense of purpose and passion.
David had no experience running his own business before
David is immensely well-travelled. So much so, he’s actually already visited every country where he’s sent a client on holiday – over 136 of them!
But that alone couldn’t help with setting up a travel agency from scratch.
Joining a franchise eliminated all of the hassle he’d have encountered if he’d tried to go it alone.
Instead of having to deal with everything required in setting up a new company, he got a ready-made travel agency from day one.
That meant David was free to focus on the most important thing; finding customers.
“It was the first time I had my own business. Things such as contracts with our suppliers. I don’t get involved in that. That’s what the franchise does.
I just focused on building up a client base early. Literally started ringing people that I’ve spoken to once or met years and years ago and hadn’t touched base with, to tell them what I was doing.”
Focus on service and the money will come
David explains that customer service is absolutely key to standing out.
He believes you can’t beat online players if you do everything like them, so you have to put the ‘person’ in personal travel consultant. That’s what the best customers are looking for.
“Every client is different and they need to be treated differently. We offer a personal service, so I make my service personal to everyone.
I don’t hide behind emails or quotes. I ring, I talk, I get to know the customer. I send out birthday cards; I send a nice little gift when we do a booking.
If I’m in the car on a long journey, I’ll just pick the phone up and ring a client, and have a chat with them, not to sell them anything.”
David’s also built his business on referrals and recommendations.
“I’ve built up really good relationships with my clients. And I think that also helps them recommend people.
My customers now are repeats or referrals. I don’t do advertising. I do have a Facebook group where the majority of people are clients and they might tell somebody else what they’ve seen me post. Or, they will think ‘I’ve never thought about that’ and want to do it themselves.
And then I’ll be really honest and just say, it’s not for you… I think we need to look at different hotels or whatever instead. But I know them already, so that makes it easier!”
David was so successful, he beat our Money-Back Challenge in just 7 months
David is a very target-driven person. He decided to focus on getting his business for free, as part of our unique Money-Back Challenge.
And he did just that, hitting the commission target just 7 months after setting up.
But none of that came at the expense of doing the right thing for the customer.
“I didn’t focus necessarily on how much I was going to make. Technically, people say you never make money in your first year, but I did it by spending a lot of time talking to the clients to find out what they actually want.
Then I tell the suppliers I want this hotel, or these flights at this time. I’m technically making less money, but the client knows I’m doing what’s right for them, not for me.”
He’s booked some incredible holidays for people
David also took some time out to talk through 5 of his favourite ever bookings.
They don’t always have to be the most expensive or luxurious holidays (although some of the locations will take your breath away).
It’s about creating the right trip for the customer, so that they can create the best memories. And David always goes above and beyond to ensure his customers have the perfect time.
You can check them out in the video below.
Covid was incredibly challenging – but has had a silver lining
With record breaking bookings in January and February this year, we’ve seen the start of travel’s biggest ever comeback.
David’s made over 133 bookings in just two months, which he puts down to being there for clients when they needed him most.
“I refunded over a million and a half pounds to clients that didn’t travel.
The majority of those have rebooked, swapped dates or changed holidays.
But I made sure that they knew I was doing what was right for them. And I’ve had a lot of new referrals to people that booked online and still haven’t got money back.
So now I’m getting more new customers than I would normally.”
The benefits of being a Not Just Travel franchisee are clear
David explains that having a large franchise behind you is vital if you want to not only succeed, but also get the most benefits .
“We’ve got massive buying power, so our pricing is always good.
And our commission is *really* good. I talk to other agents who can’t do things I can do, because they don’t have enough commission to play with.”
He also explains that it’s still his own business – and that he’s in control.
“The business gives you a Rolls Royce, which is all the tools and everything else we get. But it’s up to us how we drive it. We can decide if we want to discount or do add-ons; we don’t have to get approval for anything.”
He loves the support that lets him focus on finding and serving customers
When you join, you’ll have a whole team of travel experts behind you. They cover trade relationships, marketing, sales as well as a dedicated Partnership Manager there to support you every day.
And we’ll even do all your ticketing and travel administration to take away hours of work every week. David explains:
“Head office does all of the paperwork. They do the checking of everything, once we’ve got the deposit, we can move on to the next one.
I’m a bit of a control freak, so I like to check things have gone out; the documents from the supplier and all of that.
But I can rest assured that the admin side has been taken care of by the franchise.
I’ve just been away on a cruise, but I’ve got people travelling in the next 10 days. The office has been emailing that paperwork, I haven’t had to do it. I come back and all of that is done, which to me is priceless.”