Entrepreneurs Matt and Ash aren’t afraid of a new challenge.
In 2018, Matt and Ash left their big corporate jobs in London, sold their house and bought a fish and chip shop in the Lake District.
But when the entrepreneurs sold their award-winning business in 2022, they realised they were hooked on travel and decided to launch a homeworking travel agency after discovering The Travel Franchise and its customer-facing Not Just Travel brand on the internet.
Read on to find out how Matt and Ash:
- Became travel consultants despite never working in travel
- Now frequently travel the world to five-star hotels
- Are on course to get their £14,995 franchise fee refunded in February 2023
- Will soon both work full-time as NJT travel consultants in under a year
“We liked the fact that Not Just Travel is geared towards those that are new to the travel industry – there is plenty of training and support if you need it. You are your own boss, it is your own business, and you’ve got the autonomy to put your own stamp on it. But, you have those training wheels there at the beginning and can take them off at your speed.”Matt
As Ash and Matt have run a lot of businesses before, they are confident operating the business side of their agency, it was the travel aspect that they needed support with at the beginning. Expanding their knowledge about key destinations, travel suppliers, and products such as Skiing, Lapland and Touring.
Matt and Ash soon found that some of NJT’s travel suppliers are extremely helpful and will offer a lot of support if a customer wants to travel to a destination they were unfamiliar with.
And that they could build their knowledge of the world quickly via training webinars.
“As I am new to travel, we watch one to two webinars a day to improve our knowledge of the trade.”Matt
And while training brings knowledge, it also has travel perks…
Matt has won some exotic trips abroad while watching some webinars, as many feature prize giveaways.
“I won a week in Vietnam with solo operator Just You on a TTG webinar, where my name was pulled out of a hat”Matt
Matt also won a luxury holiday to the five-star Lujo resort in Turkey, when he sold more Jet2 holidays than any other NJT agent in one month.
Many suppliers also offer consultants FAM (familiarisation) trips abroad which are either free or heavily subsidised.
So how have their lives changed?
“We are always away! We’ve also enjoyed a free holiday to the Hard Rock Marbella with Easyjet, and a subsidised trip to the luxury TRS Ibiza Hotel, a butler service adult-only all-inclusive resort in the Balearics. We just returned from Iceland which was phenomenal. Prior to that, we were on the NJT cruise onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s brand new luxury NCL Norwegian Prima ship.”Ash
The business partners are also set to travel to Mexico, experience a safari in South Africa, weekend to NYC, and sail on two more cruises in 2023.
“We love to travel and it’s easier to sell somewhere that you’ve been – you’re more informed and passionate about the destination, plus we are posting it on our social media.”Ash
“It sounds like an excuse to go on loads of holidays, but that’s what we want and you can take bookings anywhere in the world as long as you have got a laptop and an internet phone line.”Matt, who took five bookings while on the Vietnam trip
New consultants can also get training and advice from travel experts within NJT. Every consultant has access to a personal Business Development Manager (BDM).
“We know we can pick up the phone and get an answer to any question if we need to.”Ash
“You can use them however you want, but there isn’t the pressure to use them at all. It’s nice to have an option. Business or travel, they are there to support you. We opened up shop without any customers and that was a challenge.”Matt
But with hard work they have grown their customer base, gaining repeat customers and referrals as well as new customers through wedding fairs and fully branding their car, complete with a QR code for passers by to scan.
While Matt works full-time, Ash has been working just two days a week, mostly on social media and marketing, but he plans to go full-time in the new year.
“We have rebranded as Matt and Ash as we are expanding.”Matt
The married couple has taken so many bookings that they are on course to win NJT’s Money-Back Challenge by late February, and get their entire franchise fee – £14,995 – refunded.
“NJT has a Money-Back Challenge whereby you get your franchise fee back if you reach a certain number of bookings in a year. We are almost 80 per cent there after just 8 months.”
Matt and Ash stress that even with a ‘business in a box’ you have to be prepared to put in the hard work.
That said, Matt is determined to achieve a healthy work/life balance moving forward and now tries to keep 8.30-5.30 hours and only work evenings if customers need his help.
“We are absolutely always on hand if our clients need us but it’s important not to burn out. Mental health and wellbeing is very important to us, we need to be at our best to be able to deliver the best service to our clients.”
“We want to find our clients the best experience and focus on those small extra details, which puts a real point of difference between us and some of the high street agents.”
“The holidays we book need to be truly amazing which is why our tagline is: Honest, Fabulous Holidays.”Ash