“The hard work and self-belief always pays off” – Nathan’s journey from pandemic to prosperous travel business

Many people who join Travel Counsellors wonder whether it’s the right time – and that’s something we always advise on when speaking to prospective business owners. However, as long as you’re able to support yourself while your franchise gets off the ground, sometimes it pays to take the plunge.

We spoke to Nathan Jelf, one of our ‘class of 2020’ Travel Counsellors who joined while we were still in the grip of a global pandemic. He took a risk which has well and truly paid off. In October 2023, Nathan achieved Gold, becoming one of our best-performing and highest-earning franchisees.

Nathan Jelf

We caught up with him to find out how he weathered the storm of Covid, and why he’s never looked back after taking voluntary redundancy from his previous role in the travel industry.

Lovely to meet you, Nathan. What were you doing before you joined Travel Counsellors?

I spent 20 years at another travel company, honing my skills and expertise in travel. When Covid hit, I was offered voluntary redundancy. They required a quick answer, so I jumped at it and took three months off to figure out what career path I wanted to take. At the time, I wanted to do something different to travel. My plan was never to go back into the industry!

What was it that initially attracted you to Travel Counsellors?

I’d originally attended a Discovery Day in London around eight years ago. A few of my ex-colleagues had jumped ship to Travel Counsellors and seemed to be doing well. I wondered what it was all about and felt confident that I’d be a good fit.

Having joined in 2020, how did your business bounce back from the pandemic? What did you do to limit the impact on your franchise?

As I’d taken voluntary redundancy, I had a financial buffer in place. Although the pandemic prevented me from going in full throttle with my business, I wasn’t stressed about it. It gave me plenty of time to learn the new systems. I was also very fortunate that a few of my key accounts had experienced growth during the pandemic and had increased their need for international travel.

How did it feel to achieve Gold?

It felt like I’d gotten back to where I was pre-pandemic (in my previous role) from a sales and confidence perspective. The hard work and self-belief always pays off. You just need to keep believing that you can turn things around.

What do you think sets Travel Counsellors apart from other travel management companies?

The level of care and generosity people show with their time is outstanding. In my previous firm, time was very clearly money, and nobody seemed to want to give you the time of day to help and advise. This always felt small-minded to me. In life, what goes around comes around, so it’s always good to help where you can.

Why would you recommend Travel Counsellors to fellow business travel professionals?

The main reason is the work-life balance it gives. In an ever increasingly-fast-paced world, it’s important to do what makes you happy. Travel Counsellors gives you the opportunity to work flexibly without compromising professionalism. My time is my time, and I have my freedom back. I have time to be a good dad. That’s one of the things I enjoy the most as a Travel Counsellor.

It’s great to hear how you value the freedom and flexibility, Nathan. Finally, how do you find the assistance from our support centre?

It’s reassuring to know that there are people in the wings to help you if you need it. The support centre teams are accessible and available, without being overbearing. There’s always someone who can help with whatever you need.

We’re always looking for new business travel professionals to join our growing community of travel experts. If you’re committed to going above and beyond for clients, and want the freedom to run your own business, we want to hear from you. When you become a Business Travel Counsellor, you’ll benefit from uncapped earnings, industry-leading tech, and the backing of our support teams who will help you achieve your business goals. Ready to take control of your future in 2024? Enquire today!

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