Has the experience been what you expected?
I decided to join back in November 2019 and I was super excited launch my business as soon as possible. Completing my induction in February 2020 I obviously could not anticipate the impact of COVID-19. During my week of initial training the lockdowns started to happen, hotels started to cancel bookings and travel began to stop. Despite this, during my initial week of training I made my first booking! It was confirmed on my last day of the training, it was a big booking for me that was a good start to the business.
From there the first two months of my business were during the COVID-19 lockdown here in the UAE. I knew this would slow down the growth of my business, with no travel options available but I also knew this was not in anyone’s control, it would pass and I would have to make the best of it.
From May 2020 the UAE staycation market was beginning to open, particularly for private pool villas and I started to see the enquiries and bookings picking up.
Receiving staycation bookings was not only great for business but personal morale overall. Since then I have organised and booked a destination wedding, corporate/ MICE bookings along with Seychelles and Maldives for families and couples. During lockdown I did not expect such a quick return to business and all these bookings in my first year. My impression was that the first six months to a year would be me building up my business, but to receive so many bookings despite the challenges in 2020 and to be already earning a decent income has exceeded my own expectations.
As well as keeping busy with your bookings what else were you doing those initial months in business?
I’ve always been someone who wants to learn, I am very curious and I ask a lot of questions. The first two months I invested much of my time into understanding our booking engine- Phenix. Phenix has got so much information and is such a powerful tool that the more time you spend on it the better. Even now, I keep learning!
I've spent a lot of time watching TCTV (Travel Counsellors Television), TC Stream where we host a lot of ‘How to’ videos and consuming advice from other Travel Counsellors, not only from the UAE but from our other 5 countries too and it is valuable to hear from our Directors also.
In my previous role, I was mainly selling hotels here in The UAE and now as a Travel Counsellor I can now sell the world. Since joining TC I can confidently say, if you speak to me about to the Maldives, I really know how to navigate this destination. That’s all because of the time that I’ve invested in my product knowledge the first few months and every day since.
I also invested time in understanding how to use Social Media from a business perspective. I previously used Facebook in my personal life but completing some virtual training modules on the TC e-learning platform COACH has helped me develop more skills in this area. I now have customers on both Facebook and Instagram and I've started to receive new inquiries from social media.
One of the biggest concerns for anyone joining Travel Counsellors is finding customers. What advice would you give on that?
I have been working in various Sales positions for the last 13-years. Knowing how to get customers, how to talk to customers was something I didn’t feel I needed training on. That was until I had to do everything myself. When you're going into any industry, you just need to do what others are doing. You don't have to reinvent the wheel and you will just do what they are advising you to do.
When I joined Travel Counsellors I had the same question. In training, we were advised that the key to being a successful TC is to ask for referrals. The more referrals you receive the higher repeat business that you get. My business today is built on referrals! My first booking referred me to their network and I have booked around 40 bookings so far, that is only from one referrer!
Starting the business 10 months ago I would have said I know well only four or five customers. Now, these four or five bookers have grown to be around 100 customers today.
We are also provided excellent marketing assets to place on our Social Media, training and reminders on our TC Golden Habits which will engrain the positive habits of picking up the phone, speaking to customers, following up on all enquiries and asking for referrals.
Once you join Travel Counsellors the support that you get from everyone has been always helpful. The other Travel Counsellors have assisted me with any question that I had and the team in the Dubai support office have always made me feel I can approach them with any question.
Overall, my advice would be that if you don't ask, you don't get, so keep asking questions, be curious and you will keep learning.
What has been the biggest challenge?
COVID, that's the biggest challenge that I have seen. I have missed talking face to face with people, as that makes a lot of difference when it comes to selling, be it with your friends or your clients. Not being able to sit in a coffee shop or corporate meeting room – is something I have missed with my customers but I know that will return.
Apart from that everything else that you need to build and run a business is here. Everything is so professional, the documentation we provide our customers, the branding – it is perfect for me.
Why did you choose Travel Counsellors?
I have always wanted to have my own travel company because I've seen the amount of business there is in the UAE market, the potential and the rewards. Setting up a business in the UAE normally requires huge capital particularly in travel with license fees, property rent, overheads, staff and everything in between.
Before joining Travel Counsellors I did some research on a few other companies and start up options as well. I found that Travel Counsellors are the most transparent company when it comes to what we would be selling, who they're partnered with, how their system works and the commission structure - very straight forward. I found the monthly fee and joining fees are very competitive and provided me the platform I’d need to be successful.
The other reason I chose to join Travel Counsellors is because of the people that I met when I was going through the joining process. They were very confident in my business plans and could see the potential in front of me. The UAE team and the support that you get was key in my decision-making process. If you want to run your own business in travel I would highly recommend Travel Counsellors.