We’re delighted to introduce Travel Counsellor, Anne-Marie Banks, who joined our Travel Academy programme in March 2018. We spoke to her about her decision to swap her career in education for a new adventure as a self-employed business owner.
Welcome to Travel Counsellors, Anne-Marie! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you did before Travel Counsellors?
I live at home with my husband and twin nine-year-old boys. I am a keen reader and over the past decade have developed a real passion for travel and my bucket list of places to visit seems to grow daily!
I have visited many places across four continents, and I'm aiming to add Australia as the 5th shortly. Across these continents I've visited many Greek Islands (in fact we got married on one!), Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, Cuba, Italy, Dominican Republic and America. I have a brother who lives in China, so this is also on my to-do list.
I love running and fitness and have re-discovered my love of gymnastics in recent years when one of my children took up the sport – so much so that I have ended up coaching small group of budding gymnasts!
Before becoming a Travel Counsellor, I had worked in education as an English teacher for 16 years. Throughout this time I had many roles, ranging from Head of Department to Specialist Tutor within a medical education team.
Why did you decide to take the leap and become a Travel Counsellor after working in a completely different field, and how will it benefit you?
After 16 years of teaching, I found myself losing the passion and enthusiasm that I once had for it. The supply teaching I had been doing left me unfulfilled and wasn’t working out financially. It’s really important for me to be doing something I believe in and love, so I began searching for something new. That’s when I discovered Travel Counsellors.
I have, over the past few years, developed a passion for travel and I’m always the go-to person for family and friends who need holiday advice, so I decided to turn this into a career. I liked the thought of overseeing my own destiny where there seemed to be a much better chance of hard work being rewarded and appreciated. I’m also looking forward to a better work-life balance with more control over the hours that I work. It’ll be great to be able to be there to do the school runs and be there for sports day, rather than feeling like I’m missing out.
I became friendly with another Travel Counsellor and was struck by how much she genuinely loved her job. That’s when I decided to visited Venus [Travel Counsellors Head Office] with my husband. Both of us commented on what a positive work environment it appeared to be, and I wanted to be a part of that!
What are you looking forward to most about being a Travel Counsellor?
I’m excited to learn about new holiday types and destinations that I would never have previously considered. I can't wait to build something completely bespoke from scratch and turn someone's dream holiday into a reality.
I’m especially looking forward to seeing pictures and videos of someone enjoying their adventure after all the planning and hard work has been taken care of on their behalf.
Have you set yourself any first-year goals or milestones for your business, and how do you plan on building your success?
Ideally, I would like to build a client base of at least 15 loyal returning customers and I'd like to have earned back my initial outlay.
Initially, I aim to use social media and word of mouth. I have already got agreements to leave business cards with several friends who run small businesses in the local area. After six months I'd like to join a local networking group and possibly start looking into different business events and gatherings.
What do you think you will love most about working in the travel industry?
No client or day will ever be the same, and that’s so exhilarating! Most people spend their whole year looking forward to their holiday and to know that you have listened to them carefully and spending the time to get fulfil their needs and wants is incredibly rewarding.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
It's hard to pick just one place but I think it would have to be Sydney and the East Coast of Australia. There is so much to see like the Opera House, Byron Bay and The Great Barrier Reef. But I also grew up watching Neighbours and Home and Away, so I guess I have a romantic 10-year-old's vision of the neighbourhoods, beaches and outdoor lifestyle. I would also like to explore some of the vineyards – for research purposes, of course!