Berkshire-based Travel Counsellor Sally Murray joined us in January 2018 on our Return to Travel programme – designed specifically for experienced travel professionals who are looking to return to the travel industry. We caught up with Sally to find out why she decided to start her own home-based travel business.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you did before becoming a Travel Counsellor.
I started working in travel as a travel agent apprentice on the high street in 1989, and my career in travel has taken me up the ranks to regional manager level. Training travel industry staff led me into the world of apprenticeships with a travel industry training provider and it is only in the last four years that, through redundancy, I continued within the world of apprenticeships, higher education and quality assurance, albeit outside of travel.
I am married and have two daughters. I have worked part time ever since I had my first daughter and when I had the opportunity with to progress to a full time Quality Assurance Manager three years ago, I grasped the opportunity with both hands. I don't regret this decision as I developed my leadership and built self-confidence and assertiveness, which put me in a great position to become a Travel Counsellor.
The biggest reason I joined was to have more time with the family, so I didn’t miss important events and I’m there for the after-school conversations. Also, if I am working additional hours, then I would rather do something I am passionate about and is of personal benefit to me. To be in control of something that's mine, doing something I love and to make those times we all have outside of work really memorable is what Travel Counsellors is all about. I don't want to work to live – I want to work and live.
What motivated you to start your own travel business?
I loved the flexibility it offers, but most of all I wanted to do something I love so much that I don't feel as though is a job. I love travelling and learning about travel and have missed it more than I ever realised I would.
What did you look forward to most about being a Travel Counsellor?
The excitement I get when I make others happy, and when I get to travel myself and the buzz it gives me to share those experiences. To turn this passion into a business that I have to build has been a great challenge. The biggest plus side being a better mum and wife than I have been for the last three years! I’m happier, less stressed and around at home more.
Have you set yourself any goals or milestones for what you want to achieve in your first year?
Yes. I am not someone that will wait for things to happen by themselves, I like to make things happen, so I have set a realistic turnover for year one that reflects my desire to be around my family more. I am going to stretch myself but not at the cost of my life as I have done for the last three years.
What activities have you been doing to promote your new business and build your customer base?
Social and formal networking, speaking with family and friends and reconnecting with social media contacts, past colleagues and acquaintances.
Starting your own business is a big decision – what were your main concerns when you were making the decision, and how did you overcome these?
Financial concerns mainly. I had family support with the start-up costs and my husband’s job supports us currently. While this is not ideal at the moment, the benefits have outweighed the negatives and are driving me to make things happen, giving me the push I need to be successful.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I have a long bucket list. Every time I come across somewhere new I want to go there! I would like to explore the Far East more – Malaysia, Vietnam and Borneo, to be precise.