From being the first Travel Counsellor in Ireland, Lorraine Lawless who specialises in Corporate Travel expressed how amazing it is to see how the company has grown since 2005 and continues to show their resilience.
You were Ireland’s first Travel Counsellor in 2005, why did you decide to join in the first place?
I had been made redundant for the second time from a travel agency in 2005 and started working in a logistics company to see if I could do anything other than travel. Even though my colleagues were lovely, I missed travel. As I had a young child, I needed flexibility and found that very hard to come by in most travel jobs. Then I learned that Travel Counsellors were setting up in Ireland!
I almost said no straight away when I heard that there was no salary! But they sent me lots of information about the company and I knew immediately that I wanted to join. From the very outset, I found the head office in the UK to be so friendly and professional and when I heard that Cathy Burke was going to head up the Irish operation, I knew we were in good hands. It’s amazing to see how the company has grown since then.
How did you build your business?
I didn’t really have a client base when I started, as I hadn’t worked in a retail agency for a number of years. So, I started with my friends and family. I did a “Dear Neighbour” letter and just tried to spread the word. The news soon started to spread among my friends and family, and it just went from there.
I later joined BNI which helped a lot. I made some great contacts there and that helped to develop my confidence when speaking to people about my business as I was incredibly shy. When my kids started school, I also tried to gently spread the word through the school, sponsoring prizes for Christmas raffles etc. I’m not really a “hard sell” person so I found the softer approach worked best for me.
How did the pandemic affect your customers?
When the pandemic first hit, I had a lot of clients due to travel for Easter and the summer of 2020, so they all had to cancel. It was frustrating but we had to just get on with it.
I was fortunate my Corporate Travel business was still very busy throughout the pandemic with people travelling for essential purposes. I knew that it was of the utmost importance to look after these customers. Many clients affected have all since travelled and have recommended me to others, so I have picked up some new clients on the back of the service I provided during the pandemic.
What opportunities do you see in travel now?
I think travel agents have had a resurgence since covid. So many people who never used a travel agent before are now using them, as they want the extra security, help and advice that travel agents can give them.
I also think we as travel agents can be more confident now in our own worth. We provide an invaluable service and peace of mind.
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