Despite no previous travel experience, husband-and-wife team Liam & Lisette are well on their way to building their dream travel business.
Like many of our franchisees, Liam and his wife Lisette joined as a partnership. There’s only one franchise fee to pay, which means it’s a great way to build a business with a partner and share the workload.
Both Liam and Lisette work in events. Liam is currently full-time and helps with the franchise around his job, while Lisette is part-time at her job and spends the rest of the time growing their travel business.
Deciding to join was a big step, but one they’ve never looked back on.
Their plan was to build the business up over time, so that it can become a full-time endeavour for them both.
Now that the dream is close, co-founder Paul caught up with Liam to look back on their journey so far and get some handy tips for anyone thinking about getting started too.
Training was a great way to get started fast
When Liam and Lisette joined, training was held at our head office in Bournemouth.
They both were apprehensive about coming into a new industry, but soon found they needn’t have worried. Liam told us:
“The week itself was fantastic. We actually had a real blast. We made some really good friends with the other franchisees on the course with us. And that was great… that really made it work. We clicked as a group and we’re still in touch now.”
Now, you no longer need to travel, as everything’s delivered online. But that doesn’t stop the camaraderie, as everything’s highly interactive and kept to small numbers so that everyone is looked after.
Over a packed week, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to make bookings and get your travel business up and running.
And as soon as you leave training, you’re able to make those bookings immediately.
They couldn’t wait to get out there and make bookings
One of the best ways to make your first bookings is through friends, family and referrals.
They already know and like you – and with an instant ABTA bonded travel agency behind you, you also bring immediate credibility to any conversation.
Plus, on your training week, you’re shown exactly how to introduce your new business to prospective customers, however you may know them.
Not surprisingly, Liam and Lisette’s first customer was a family member and her friend, who booked a river cruise on the Rhine.
Suppliers are happy to help with customers, no matter how much experience you have
Even experienced travel agents can’t be experts in every destination. That’s where the value of travel suppliers comes in. They know their products and holidays inside out, so all you need to do is ask them questions, not know all the answers.
When we say ‘suppliers’, we mean the companies whose holidays you’ll be selling. It might be Sandals, Jet2, easyJet Holidays or more niche providers, depending on the customer’s requirements.
And with hundreds of suppliers to choose from, covering practically the entire travel market, you’ll never be short of a solution for a customer quote.
The suppliers are also happy to help you pull their specific knowledge directly into your quote or customer conversations.
“There is no such thing as a silly question, they really are happy to talk. And depending on the size and the complexity of the booking, we’ll get on a video call with the client to really go into those itineraries. They’ll explain to them why they’ve put certain things in so that we, as a team, the supplier, our partners, and us can explain that in the best possible way.”
You can grow your business at your own pace, with one-to-one help from a Partnership Manager
Neither Lisette nor Liam had any prior travel industry experience before they joined.
Your initial training makes sure you know how to make bookings. Then you work one-to-one with your Partnership Manager. This person changes over time. As you grow your business, you need different types of help – it becomes less about the practical aspects of making bookings and more about how & when you want to scale-up your business.
“When we were beginners, we needed a lot more help with the basics. Someone to hold our hands and take us through each process. And they’re brilliant at doing that. No-one’s looked down on for being a beginner – we’re all here to help each other.”
Liam also highlights how they love that their Partnership Manager is there to help, not be their boss.
The phrase we use is “permission-based accountability”.
That means you decide how much help you want and when.
Liam explains how they work with their current Partnership Manager Dave:
“If we say we’re really busy, just back off a little bit for the moment while we’re doing some other stuff, he says fine. But then when we do go to him and say we want to meet once a week for the next four weeks to hold us to account, he’s always there at the end of the phone, WhatsApp or email to give us advice, or to give us a bit of a prompt, a push or a poke.”
The duo love being part of a bigger business, including the mentorship and community
After training, you’re never alone as a Not Just Travel consultant.
Liam and Lisette came to our January mini-conference where they learnt all about the business plans for 2022 and beyond. Then they came away on our Ski Society trip to Aspen and Denver.
And Lisette is about to jet off on her Elite Experience training in Mauritius, where she’ll spend part of her time in the classroom learning to grow their business even further – as well as experiencing multiple different Beachcomber resorts on the trip.
But community isn’t limited to get-togethers and mentorship retreats.
As Liam explains, the community is there for each other daily.
“We’ve got lots of different NJT Facebook groups. The business builder group was brilliant, because we were all at the same sort of level. Some of us have just joined. Some of us are graduating to other groups. But we’re all helping each other, asking and answering different questions. There’s a real camaraderie, with the Partnership Manager there to keep us all together and make sure we’re all going in the right direction.”
Everyone wants to get away on holiday right now
In the video interview above, Liam explains the partnership’s biggest booking to date has earned them over £5,000 in commission. The holiday in question saw a family book a 31 day trip from Canada down to Costa Rica, then back to Orlando.
And that booking is just one of many they’ve been dealing with.
Liam told us they’re now busier than ever, as everyone floods back to using travel professionals for security and peace-of-mind.
“It’s amazing. I mean, we’re almost to the point now where we’re struggling to keep up with inquiries. People are so keen to be travelling again.
They really want to get out there and more importantly, they now understand the benefits and the reasons to use us. They’re not just trying to do it themselves online.
For some people, this has been a complete step change in their thought processes. That actually, why on earth do I want to put myself through all that hassle when someone can do it all for me? Someone who’ll probably get me a better holiday in the long term with a better, more customised itinerary.
And it doesn’t cost them any extra!”