What do you do if you have a job travelling all over the UK five days a week and you want to start a family?
For Ben, like many of our franchisees, the answer was simple: start a business from home with flexible hours.
The Travel Franchise was an obvious choice because Ben, 36, had never worked in travel before. As the number one travel franchise for those new to travel he knew he would get the training and support he needed to kickstart his business but at the same time be his own boss.
“I wanted control of my own business, my own life, my own decisions, and I didn’t want to answer to anybody else.”
Like many of our franchisees, Ben launched his business while he kept working in his day-to-day job – regional marketing manager for McCarthy Stone, a retirement home developer – and thought it would take some time before he made the transition to working in travel full time.
“My plan was to let the travel business tick alongside my full-time job even though that involved long hours driving all over the UK.”
However, after training with us in July 2019, he became busier than he expected from day one.
In his first week of his business Ben had 10 potential clients, one of which resulted in an £8k booking to the Maldives. With an average 10 to 15 percent commission on every holiday sold, Ben knew there was the potential to scale up fast.
Business was so good that within three months of starting Ben couldn’t cope with demand.
And when Ben and his husband Chris decided to start a family, he handed in his notice to concentrate on his travel business full time.
“The Travel Franchise gave me all the support, encouragement and guidance I needed to make a success of my new travel business, despite having never worked in travel before.”
While some of our franchises prefer to keep their agency small, others like Ben look to scale up quickly.
Once Ben and Chris had their son in summer 2020, it wasn’t long before Ben decided to employ a member of staff, Sarah.
“It enabled me to keep expanding the business but do the little things like pick our child up from school and be present at a play or school event which is really important to me as a dad.”
Employing someone else also meant Ben could concentrate on doing what he loved most: marketing and building his idea of two different brands for his company.
Out Of This World is his high-end brand with an average spend of around £10k while Great Escapes is aimed at clients that typically spend about £5k-£6k on each holiday.
And while Not Just Travel offers consultants a concierge service which many take up, Ben decided he wanted to create his own and employ yet another member of staff.
“The biggest piece of my jigsaw was employing Karen to do the concierge full time to offer a personal, elevated experience.”
Karen offers all the usual concierge services: pre-booking seats, online check-ins, boarding passes and advising clients about any travel rules.
She passes on any dietary requirements to hotels and offers guests restaurant recommendations. In the future she hopes to ensure guests’ mini bars are even stocked with guests’ preferred drinks and even more personalised options.
Ben also sends guests personalised video messages when they are abroad reminding them to contact him if he can help in any way and goes the extra mile for guests celebrating special occasions.
For one customer Ben commissioned an artist to create a personalised gift shortly after they returned from their £35k honeymoon in Thailand.
“I sent the artist numerous photos from the different hotels and destinations on their itinerary and she created a digital collage. I wanted it to be a work of art that whenever they looked at it, they spotted something new.”
So has his meticulous planning and hard work paid off?
“Last year I took £1.2m-worth of bookings and this year I’m on target for £1.8m. I did £329k sales in January which is a 30% increase on last January (£250k).”
Like many of our consultants, Ben is also enjoying discounted holidays with some of our travel partners offering fam trips and reward schemes.
Ben also attended one of our Elite Experiences in Mauritius where we take consultants to a luxury destination to experience different resorts and gain from training and workshops.
He particularly appreciated the opportunity to be mentored in person from our co-founders and entrepreneurs Paul Harrison and Steve Witt.
“They are so supportive and nothing is too much trouble.”
Ben says one of the best things about the trip was being with all the other Not Just Travel consultants.
“We all shared best practice, we talked about our businesses informally at mealtimes and we built friendships and contacts that we have kept going forward. We’ve still got the WhatsApp group from that Elite Experience which we all use to help each other out and keep in touch. It’s become kind of a bit of a support network.”
So does he think the business is good for people from a range of careers and ambitions? And would he recommend people going into it full or part time?
“It’s really flexible. You can fit it in with your lifestyle. You can work full time and aim to sell millions of pounds worth of holidays or you can use it to enjoy a bit of travel, be part of the NJT family and earn a bit of pocket money.
“I love to travel but I love being an entrepreneur more. I enjoy creating strategy and my vision is big but without sacrificing the work/life balance.
“Ideally I want to be at a point where I am working on the business and I’ve got travel consultants working for me that perhaps specialise in different areas such as cruising with me at the helm. I love it. It really is a job where you can make it what you want to be.”
Are you inspired by Ben? Do you want to find out if you too could follow in his footsteps? Take 10 minutes to watch our Discover video to find out if the business is for you.