Well, it’s that time of year again. A time to put up your Christmas Tree, reminisce on life, family, and all that you’ve accomplished in 2017! Read on find out how 2017 was the year that changed Buckinghamshire based Angela McCall's life as she shares her journey to becoming a Travel Counsellor...
Having spent 16 years working freelance in the digital marketing arena, I had worked myself into the ground, chasing life in every small pocket of opportunity that I had around my girls and their needs. All I wanted to do was exploit these business skills for my own cause. I wanted to do something that broke me free from the paid-by-the-hour business model, something different, something that excited me, challenged me, that embraced my love for life and that I was passionate about. But what?
A friend of mine runs her own Life Insurance agency, and offered to train me up… but the industry topic wasn’t exactly rocking my world, but it did get me thinking back to my career in the Travel Industry. So, I started to put feelers out, contacting large tour operators and high street agents, but something wasn’t right. The idea of working to someone else’s timescale, demands and with capped income opportunities, whilst also giving up the freedom to pick my girls up after school and run them to their clubs and the sacrifices they would have to make was filling me with dread!
In early July I sat down one evening and Googled “home working travel agents”. At this point I’d not heard of any firm, yet alone a number of options being discovered. I reached out to all of them. Only one company every replied and within 24 hours had me booked to come and tour their head office in Manchester! My other half (who I met at university on the same BSc Computing degree as myself) just figured I was having a mid-life crisis and it would soon pass!
This was the month that changed my life. After a few weeks of dithering about, I took the leap and signed up for the “Return To Travel” induction program, but not until I had done my homework on the company. After-all, “these large companies” always sell you the golden nuggets about what is so fab about them, but I wanted to know the real truths. So I had gone undercover and secretly sought out other Travel Counsellors who I felt had a similar lifestyle as mine, and who’d started with the firm in the past year or so. I think I spoke with about 6 in the end and not one of them had a bad word to say or a regret to complain about.
By now I had met 12 other fabulous individuals on the first of 3 weeks of (staggered) training. All of whom, for one reason or another, had decided to launch their own businesses in travel. We had spent a week learning about the Travel Counsellors business model, our in-house booking systems, our financial trust that protects our customers 100%, how our on-the-ground destination management companies operated, how we could offer truly bespoke holidays, tour and itineraries and what that meant for our clients and ourselves. We were brought up-to-speed on new industry rules, regulations, do’s and don’ts. I also experienced the first of many “Take-Over Days” at head office, had my business dedicated phone line installed and packed off my youngest daughter to start her first year of full-time education. To say it was a busy month is an understatement, but it was so worth it!
This is when things started to really happen for me. My first promotional stand at David Lloyd Leisure in Milton Keynes took place, giving me the chance to meet lots of hard-working (often time-challenged) individuals that enjoyed quality family breaks with their loved one’s. This in turn led to my first enquiries and my first booked travel client in over 12 years.
This is the month my partner “got it”. I decided to bring David with me, to meet my fellow induction friends and to experience Travel Counsellors at our annual conference. Here we both learnt more about the company, watched amazing presentations from some sensational people who had gone above and beyond the limits of what they had been told was possible. From the lad who’d left school with not a single qualification and that challenged parliament to get the law changed, allowing him to open the first bank in the UK in over 190 years. To the lady who had a stroke aged 38 and woke up trapped inside her own body, not being able to walk, talk, eat and had to just observe professionals saying she’d never be anything more, to being so strong minded that she literally lay in bed willing her body to move and broke all known records and studies as to what was thought possible. She now helps countless others who’s lived a similar fate. Then there was the lovely Joanna Lumley with her childhood tales of life around the world and her acting career. Not to mention all the star-studied entertainment, lectures, dinners, supplier expo! By the end of the weekend, my David was onboard!
December has seen me attend head office for the last time as part of my mandatory induction training. I’m glad to say that I’ve passed everything expected of me along the way and now I really am out there in the big wide world, running my own travel firm with the most amazing company I have ever known, and it feels totally liberating, exciting and absolutely amazing!
So, what lies ahead for me in 2018?
Personally I plan to take less for granted and extend my gratitude to those who help me on my personal and business journey. So, starting with my girls, everything I do is for them. For my friends, who’ve listened to me talk about nothing but travel for months already. To my partner David who’s itching to get some travel notches on his own belt. To my new found fellow induction friends, you are an amazing awesome bunch who I treasure and lastly to the amazing head office staff who’ve supported and encouraged me, who are happy to answer any questions or query I have at any time night or day!