TRANSFORMING MY HOSPITALITY BACKGROUND INTO A RETAIL TRAVEL BUSINESS
"The market in Dubai is transient, with expats from around the world. This has really complemented my travel business as customers still book with me even when they’ve moved on - it’s global"
Gillian McLornan Travel Trade - Joined 2012
My name’s Gillian and I have been delighted to call Dubai home for several years. I joined Travel Counsellors when they signed the joint venture with Dnata and opened the UAE office in 2012. I became a Travel Counsellor following an extensive career in Global Sales in the luxury hotel sector, for leading brands such as Jumeirah and Ritz Carlton. This wealth of experience was the perfect platform from which to launch my own travel franchise with Travel Counsellors. The transition was pretty seamless, as it felt like an obvious extension of the work I’d already been doing for so many years. I had lots of transferable skills and a wealth of relevant experience - and contacts - that enabled me to hit the ground running.
Within my first two years I achieved Gold – the title we give to our highest performing franchise holders - but my background in luxury travel really did give me a significant head start, which shouldn’t be underestimated. I always stress to new joiners that the rewards are great, but there’s no mistaking that you do have to put in all the hard work first in educating yourself on the extensive product available in the market and being across the latest travel trends. But you build towards success, and there are so many benefits that come from running your own successful business with Travel Counsellors. For me, the service-led corporate culture that I’d come from seemed to find a perfect mirror in Travel Counsellors’ ethos, but I always stress to people that it’s not always that straightforward!
My market is luxury, which complements my location here in Dubai and my luxury hospitality background. Whilst I have invested significantly in product training and education, I work closely with Phenix, our bespoke booking platform, as it is superb and lays the foundations to control each stage of the customer journey. Like any customer driven business, service is key and I’m passionate about delivering the highest standard of service to my customers. Whether they’re a oneoff or a repeat high-end booker, the service they get from me will always be first-class. That’s just what I do!
I’m an incredibly structured and organised person and this certainly helps me run a great business. I tend to be up very early, to get on top of work before most people are even up, but then from 2pm onwards I’m on the road driving my kids around – picking up from two different schools and doing the regular runs to swim class and all their other activities. I’m often not back at my desk til 8pm, but I’m still available on the phone for my clients. The flexibility of this business is unique. I choose the level of business I want; the beauty is our model is so scaleable. I know there’s the potential for me to double or triple my business with Travel Counsellors in future, but right now it’s at a level that works for me and the family. We are fortunate to spend the summers in Colorado, and as I book a lot of travel to North America for my clients over the summer, it’s a great benefit to be on the same time zone. As long as I have a phone and my laptop, I can work from anywhere!
"Travel Counsellors have a great platform which allows me to access product in many different ways. But the direct contracts in Phenix are crucial to the success of my business, and they keep me in control of the customer journey."
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