A little bit about me
My name is Jeevan Sandhu, from Birmingham. I’m 28 and have been married for just over two years to my wife, Priya. I studied an operating department practitioner course at university and worked at Birmingham Children's Hospital in a number of different roles within the operating theatres.
After the pandemic, I decided I wanted to start my own business with my brother. We invested in a well-established franchise portfolio with a healthcare insurance brand. Given my background, it was a great stepping stone.
After running this franchise for just over two years (and winning the ‘New Partner of the Year’ award), my brother and I decided it was a great time to set up a new franchise. I came across Travel Counsellors through Business Network International (BNI) and before I knew it, I was at their head office discussing the opportunity further. I was impressed straight away, so decided to go for it. After realising that Travel Counsellors was the perfect opportunity for me, I stepped away from running the healthcare franchise with my brother.
Because I had no previous experience in the travel industry, I came through the Travel Academy programme, which is designed to give people like me all the tools and knowledge they need to run a successful travel franchise. One of the great things about Travel Counsellors is that a lack of experience isn’t a barrier to success.
To give you an insight into what life is like for a brand new business owner, I’m sharing the diary of my first couple of months – so you can see just how easy it is to trade in your old career and become your own boss.
All new Travel Counsellors take part in a 10-day virtual induction. I was very excited to start my training, as it was a new adventure and a lot to learn.
The training was very comprehensive. The trainers were excellent and very supportive. They ensured the structure of each session was well thought out. Each day started with a Microsoft Teams call, which gave the cohort the chance to ask the training team any questions they had from the previous day. Then we would dive into the modules individually – with the trainers only a call or Teams message away if we had any problems or questions.
On the final day of training, I officially launched my business. This moment was quite surreal! I was very eager and excited to get going.
Week one – my first booking!
Coming into this week was slightly daunting, but I was fuelled by the excitement of the launch. The support I had from family and friends reassured me that I was doing the right thing by starting this business.
I had a few enquiries that were brought about by the launch, and the support I had from the training team was incredible. They really helped me by being there to answer any questions and to look over my quotes, as my mentor was away. However, my mentor, Matt, still answered my questions via text despite being on his own holiday. For me, that really demonstrated how caring the Travel Counsellors community is.
One of the enquiries turned into a booking by the end of the week! My first customer was a family member who booked their babymoon to Turkey. This felt amazing, not only for the fact it was my first booking, but also because my family were willing to support me in such a way. The training team stayed online after hours to be there for me while I made the booking on Phenix, which is a testament to how much they genuinely want you to succeed.
Week two – getting the hang of things!
This week was less daunting. I had a few different enquiries that kept me busy. I felt like things were really starting to fall into place! I got the hang of the Travel Counsellors systems very quickly because they are so well built and user-friendly.
I also started back at my local BNI meeting, which led to further enquiries landing on my desk.
Week three – networking and making the most of the travel perks
I had an even busier week, as I attended three BNI meetings and an evening open networking event. I think it’s important to get my face out there as a travel business owner, as I had been networking for a year and a half with my old franchise. I needed to show that I’m now in the travel industry, and here to help plan amazing trips and experiences for people.
I also booked a city break with my wife and flights to Copenhagen with my brother. Although my primary focus will always be arranging fantastic trips for my customers, being able to also book breaks for myself is definitely a nice perk of the job! I will be using these breaks as an opportunity to shoot some content for my Instagram page and to immerse myself in the destinations – which will allow me to better advise my customers whether these places will be suitable for them and their needs. Travel Counsellors are encouraged to go on trips and experience as much of the world as possible first hand.
Week four – getting social
This week I focused on my Instagram page and building traction on it. My strategy for this was to post some polls on my Instagram Story, to see what my followers were looking for in a holiday. I then posted a deal that would hit all their requirements. I also ran a competition, where they could win £100 off the package or off their next holiday booked with me if they followed, liked, and commented on my post. This worked really well to start building my customer base.
I also met with Matt, my mentor, this week. I found this to be priceless. We spent two hours going through all the questions I had lined up. Matt also gave me lots of helpful pointers as we went along. We’ve scheduled to meet up every month.
Week five – making the most of events
This week I had the opportunity to attend two roadshows that were put on by Travel Counsellors – a Cruise roadshow and a roadshow delivered by one of the destination management companies.
This was a great opportunity for me to understand more about both industries and learn more about the suppliers that attended. I also got to speak with other Travel Counsellors, which was a plus for me as I could ask questions regarding some enquiries I had received.
Week six – meeting my cohort in person
I attended Venus, Travel Counsellors’ head office, for my in-person training. I finally met my cohort, which was great! It was amazing to see the headquarters and meet the lovely people who work for Travel Counsellors in the various support teams.
After my two days at Venus, the latter half of the week was quite busy as I was quoting for clients. My workload is very steady, which I’m so pleased about given that it’s still very early days with my business.
Week seven – time to reflect
Upon reflection, these first seven weeks have flown by! So far, my Travel Counsellors journey has gone very well. I am very busy with enquiries, which is not what I expected so early on.
My business goals for the next couple of months are to continue to build my client base through networking and social media. This will give me a good mix of different customers.
Based on my fantastic experience so far, I would highly recommend Travel Counsellors to anyone who is thinking of setting up their own travel business.
Has Jeevan inspired you to leave your current role behind? If you’re considering a career change and want to be in charge of your own destiny, our Travel Academy offers the perfect springboard to running a travel business you can be proud of. Get in touch with our New Franchise team today and let’s make your vision a reality for 2024.