Earlier this year, we teamed up with the Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) to launch the Future You pitch challenge. The challenge saw entrepreneurial graduates pitch their travel business ideas – with those who impressed us the most securing a place on our Travel Academy, worth £10,000!
One candidate who blew us away, and who is on her way to becoming a fully-fledged Travel Counsellor, is Coventry University graduate, Emily Coles. She’ll be launching her franchise in November, so we caught up with her to learn more about what makes her tick, her plans for her business, and who inspired her to kickstart her career in the travel industry.
__Congratulations on your successful pitch, Emily! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? __
I graduated from Coventry University with a degree in journalism in May 2023. Initially, I went to the University of Hertfordshire, but it wasn’t right for me. In the midst of the organised chaos that has been my education over the past few years, I have been travelling around Europe on a student budget and sharing my experiences through my travel blog called ‘TravelByEm’.
What kickstarted your passion for travel?
When I was 17, I went on my first trip abroad without my family. My partner and I spent a weekend in Krakow. We spent three days indulging in £2 pints and wandering around the Christmas markets. I fell in love with Poland and everything it had to offer. From then on, if it was between a night out in England or a few nights spent experiencing a new destination, we went to the airport every time!
Why did you want to set up your own travel business?
Growing up, I was always told “you’ll never make money working for someone else” and “you’ll never enjoy life if you don’t enjoy work”. Being 21, I have all the typical life goals in my sights. I’d love to buy a car, move out of the family home, and explore more of the world. Starting my own business will allow me to work towards these goals while leveraging my passion for the travel industry.
Who encouraged or inspired you to apply?
My family are my biggest supporters. When the opportunity arose, my mum was the first person who encouraged me to go for it. Growing up, I’ve watched both my parents build their careers. My dad owns an engineering business, and my mum has worked her way up in the insurance industry. Seeing them both achieve so much drives me to succeed – not just for myself, but to be able to give back to them.
What did you know about Travel Counsellors prior to applying?
Before attending the Discovery Day, I did lots of online research. However, the fantastic event allowed me to learn about the company beyond the information available on the website.
Speaking to an existing Travel Counsellor gave me a realistic view of what building a travel business is truly like. It was also great to meet team members from head office who were able to provide further insight into the company.
Even though I was looking to start my own business, I knew I wouldn’t be completely alone after attending the Discovery Day. The community that Travel Counsellors has created provides a sense of ease as a ‘newbie’. Rather than focusing on the stresses that my new chapter will bring, I feel excited to become part of something so much more than just a self-employed business owner.
How did it feel to secure your free place on our Travel Academy programme?
I was initially quite taken aback! Even though I felt my interview and presentation had gone well, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. When I found out I’d secured a place, I felt an instant feeling of relief. Then, it was a combination of excitement and nerves for the rest of the day!
What are your ideas and goals for your travel business?
I plan to start as a leisure Travel Counsellor, but I’m looking forward to seeing what direction my business takes as I build up my clients. I’m keen to learn more about the corporate side of things and potentially move into that area further down the line.
For me, it’s important to build personal relationships. With that in mind, I plan on hosting events, with a key focus on giving back. For example, I would like to run a competition to raise money for charity which will give my customers the chance to win a trip planned by me. I’d particularly like to run an event to raise money for Alzheimer’s in honour of my nan.
What are you looking forward to most about being a Travel Counsellor?
The thing I’m most looking forward to as a Travel Counsellor is building a career I’m passionate about. Whether it’s talking about a destination or looking into offers for customers, I can’t wait to turn my love for the travel industry into a career and meet like-minded people along the way!
We’re so excited to follow Emily on her journey. If you’re a recent graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset, a genuine passion for travel, and a desire to run your own business, you could be a great fit for us. We’re already booking inductions for 2024, so get in touch for a conversation with our New Franchise team and take control of your future.