We caught up with Travel Counsellor, Katie Dale, to find out what she made of the whirlwind first year of running her own travel business, and attaining ‘Gold’, which is the name we give to our top-performing franchisees.
Thomas Cook provided the foundations for so many in the travel industry. In fact, 20% of all UK Travel Counsellors have worked for Thomas Cook at some point in their career. If you're a travel agent who's recently been affected by Thomas Cook ceasing trading, learn more about the career opportunities available at Travel Counsellors here.
Rebecca Whitmore is one of them, starting as a modern apprentice back in 2002. Putting a careers’ worth of knowledge to use, Rebecca became a Travel Counsellor in 2018. Following the collapse of Thomas Cook, we spoke to Rebecca about her journey.
How did you react to the new of Thomas Cook’s collapse?
“I am personally so saddened that they are no more, I feel like a piece of British history has been lost. My roots into travel are with Thomas Cook; they provided me with a strong foundation into the industry, with training, destination knowledge and friendships. We had a great focus on delivering the best service to our customers and I was very proud to be part of the team.”
“I was only young when I first joined them, but I firmly believe the skills they taught me gave me a great start into the world of work, and in travel. But, I am encouraged by the way the community spirit in the travel industry has blossomed. Everyone, no matter which company they work for, has been rooting for the Thomas Cook staff.”
What words of advice would you give to Thomas Cook colleagues affected by the collapse?
“I would encourage all to use this opportunity to look towards their future, whilst building on the skills Thomas Cook has equipped them with.”
“Thomas Cook staff deliver excellent customer service and experiences to their clients, many of whom have booked with them for years. They have outstanding travel knowledge and a fierce sense of teamwork. These are all things that hold value in the eyes of the customer, and employers or business partners of any kind. I’d like to remind people to remember how strong they are and that there are opportunities out there for them.”
How did you find the transition from the high street to business owner?
“The foundations of travel knowledge and customer care were already in place, but I have developed so much personally, which I perhaps didn’t expect. For example, even the word ‘networking’ filled me with fear, so my Business Development Coach has helped me to explore other ways to grow my business. I am grateful for the in-house training courses available. For example, Cruise is something that has always daunted me but with the Cruise Accelerator programme I am currently enrolled on, my knowledge is growing and cruise sales increasing.”
“It’s all about making your business the way you want it to be. That’s the biggest difference to working on the high street and it’s challenging exciting and rewarding.”
What would you say about Travel Counsellors that may be relevant for someone who has just been made redundant from Thomas Cook?
“One of my biggest fears was feeling lonely when I became a homeworker – far from it! There is such a fabulous team spirit that I have never experienced before.”
“Lots of people have joined us from all walks of life and backgrounds, many of them coming from Thomas Cook. It’s great to know that whilst we are individual business owners, we are all in this together, supporting one another. Even if you are just exploring options right now I would encourage you to reach out to us at Travel Counsellors. There is no hard sell here, but people that want to present you with the facts of what they can do for you, and what you can accomplish by joining us.”
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Hayley O’Shea joined us in 2017 after the independent agency she worked for was taken over, and things changed. We spoke to Hayley, to find out how she took back control and set up her own business.
After joining us, Michelle challenged herself to change the way she worked; from selling third party suppliers to packaging together her own holidays and acting as the tour operator. Her life has changed unrecognisably since.