Corporate and Leisure Travel Counsellor, Karen Jones, joined us in 2022 after realising she was ready for a new challenge. She’d worked in the travel industry for 17 years, with a decade of her experience being in corporate travel. Less than a year after joining Travel Counsellors, Karen has already hit Gold, proving that with determination, hard work and the support of the Travel Counsellors community, the sky is the limit!
We caught up with Karen to find out more about her journey, and why her advice to anyone thinking of becoming a Travel Counsellor would be to ‘believe in yourself and do it!’.
Making the move to Travel Counsellors
Karen decided to join Travel Counsellors as the world started to reopen following the pandemic. She said: “I made connections in my local area after the pandemic and it felt like the right time to try running my own travel business. I’d always followed Travel Counsellors and having spoken to a few ex-colleagues who had also joined, I was persuaded to make the move.”
The induction process
Karen’s passion for travel was further reignited at her induction. Not only did Karen learn how to get her business set for success, she formed a strong connection with her cohort. Karen said: “It was a lot of information to absorb, but it was all very useful. I really enjoyed the remote sessions and still refer to my notes to this day. Our training group have kept in touch and we all help each other out where we can.”
Growing her business
Utilising her personal network of friends and family, alongside networking and winning smaller accounts, enabled Karen to scale her business quickly. “It escalated after a couple of months, and I got a lot of referrals for corporate travel,” Karen said. “I now book mostly corporate travel and I am starting to work with other Travel Counsellors who book holidays for my clients. I work in teams with several colleagues which means we can share the workload. That has really helped me to bring on more clients. I’ve also learnt that networking leads to lots of opportunities.”
Hitting Gold in less than 12 months
Describing how it felt to achieve this milestone in such as a short space of time, Karen said: “It was a really proud moment. I qualified just before the Gold trip to Sardinia, and luckily managed to get the last place on it. It really helped to meet other Gold TCs and share ideas and knowledge over a glass of wine”.
‘Gold’ status is awarded to Travel Counsellors who have hit certain sales targets each year. It’s open to all Travel Counsellors in the community, and our dedicated business coaches and workshops can help you to achieve this milestone. As a thank you for their hard work, Gold Travel Counsellors are rewarded with a weekend away to either a long-haul or short-haul destination each year that they retain their Gold status.
Championing our support
One thing which has really stood out to Karen since becoming a Travel Counsellor is the amount of support she has received from our head office. Speaking of the sense of community she’s experienced, Karen said: “Everyone is very friendly and always happy to support in a non-competitive environment. There’s a lot of help from head office for things like marketing, tech and business development.
“I worked really closely with Lisa Bradshaw, one of the ILM-qualified Business Development Coaches, and I always found her so motivating. We had monthly catch-up calls and she gave me ideas to grow my business. I felt like this kept me in check. I’ve also worked with some of the Business Development Managers, which I found very useful. My mentor, Claire, was also amazing and helped me so much in my first year - we now work on two accounts together.”
The best thing about being her own boss
Karen has really enjoyed the learning curve of becoming a Travel Counsellor, in addition to the freedom and flexibility it has given her, saying: “I have more time as I can work the hours that are convenient for my business. I can plan my own days and take time out when I want. In the last 6 months I have visited Lapland, Crete, Cagliari, The Algarve and travelled around Andalucía. Other Travel Counsellors covered me for a couple of days, but I worked for most of this time. I want to be able to give a consistent service and have a good work-life balance.”
Being part of a caring community
Here at Travel Counsellors, we pride ourselves on our caring and inclusive community. This is something which Karen has experienced first-hand. “I find everyone so friendly and encouraging, and there is a real sense that everyone wants you to do well”, Karen said.
Regular events and opportunities to engage with colleagues are a particular highlight for her, adding: “You’re encouraged to do as much training as possible, go to supplier events and visit the head office. I really enjoyed visiting head office in April and meeting all the staff behind the scenes. We also have lots of virtual events such as coffee break mornings, so there are always plenty of people to talk to. The annual conference is another great event and an opportunity to connect with fellow Travel Counsellors and support colleagues. We’re also kept up-to-date with what’s going on in the community through regular TCTV broadcasts throughout the week.”
Why Karen would recommend Travel Counsellors to corporate travel professionals?
Karen doesn’t hesitate in recommending Travel Counsellors to corporate travel professionals who are looking for their next career move. She said: “The best thing is that Travel Counsellors is now in the top 20 Travel Management Companies (TMCs) in the UK, meaning there are more opportunities than ever. The technology is great and the ability to work in teams means you’re never isolated. Travel Counsellors has a great reputation, which is backed by fantastic support, lots of training and experienced colleagues at head office who are always there to help.”
What it takes to be a Travel Counsellor
We asked Karen what qualities she thinks a person needs to do well as a Travel Counsellor, and her response was "being motivated, organised, personable, open-minded and knowledgeable" - Does that sound like you? Click the link below to learn more.