When Melanie Cahill moved to the west coast of Ireland 15 years ago, there wasn’t much opportunity to work as a travel agent. In 2016 Melanie came across a job advertisement for Travel Counsellors, one of Ireland’s leading travel agents, and she knew it was meant to be.
We chatted to Melanie to find out why she decided to return to travel with Travel Counsellors.
Tell us about your career in the travel industry.
I left school at 16 and joined a youth training scheme with college day release. I earned just €25 a week and, obviously, it wasn’t the money that drew me to this profession but the desire to travel and explore the world. I worked my way up through the industry obtaining all my qualifications in fares, ticketing, travel and tourism. I managed an agency both in an office and at home as a manager of home travel agents. I left the travel industry when I moved to Ireland 15 years ago, as there weren’t many opportunities for travel agents in the west of Ireland. Then in 2016 I came across a job post advertising Travel Counsellors, one of Ireland’s leading travel specialists, and I knew it was meant to be.
Tell us about what you did when you left the travel industry.
When I left the travel industry, I worked in the hotel industry as a reservations manager. I then went onto work for my husband as a kitchen designer, managing a busy showroom and all his administration work.
What was the moment of realisation when you decided to return to travel and become a Travel Counsellor?
When the recession hit, my husband’s business declined, the showroom closed, and I began to really think about what I could do. I got a job in another hotel as a front office manager and, unfortunately, they let me go after a short period of time due to a long-term illness. I felt very dejected but came to the realisation that I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I enjoyed having the freedom and autonomy of being my own boss, that’s when I saw the advert for Travel Counsellors. It just seemed so perfect at that point in my life, as no matter what I did, travel was always close to my heart.
What is the biggest difference between your work life before Travel Counsellors and your work life now?
The biggest difference now is that my job doesn’t feel like a job. Being a Travel Counsellor is something that excites me and gives me the freedom to live my life for me and my family, along with doing something I am passionate about in between. I used to hate all the politics of working in an office and the strict office hours, but now it doesn’t feel like work. I get to do something I love, which is an incredibly rare thing to find nowadays.
__What were the steps you had to take to return to travel?
I contacted Travel Counsellors and went to Cork to meet the head office team for an interview. It was like being welcomed home by long term friends. Meeting the head office team, and hearing all about the company, really helped me to make my decision. I walked out of the office that day so invigorated and excited about returning to travel with such an incredibly supportive company. Travel Counsellors run a Return To Travel course to help refresh your travel industry skills-set, so I waited for the next course to start and once completed, along with the incredible support and guidance of the Travel Counsellors team, I got my business up and running… and the rest is history.
What do you love about being a Travel Counsellor?
I love everything. The support from head office and other Travel Counsellors is something I never could have envisioned. The company has so much to offer me which in turn lets me offer my clients an amazing service. Happy clients make me one happy TC. I love seeing the smiles on my clients’ faces and hearing all about their adventures. I’m so honoured that they entrusted me with something so meaningful to them. Travel Counsellors enables me to make dreams come true.
Can you now imagine having a different job?
Definitely not! I often get emails advertising other jobs in the travel industry but honestly, I don’t think you’d find another company like this. It’s one big happy community that lets me have complete control over my client base, my hours and my earnings.
Is your family very supportive about your job? How do they get involved?
Everyone in my family is incredibly supportive. They are always telling everyone about what I do or the latest places I’ve been, and my daughter is a force to be reckoned with. She almost thinks she is a Travel Counsellor some days! Not only does she book regular holidays with me, she is my biggest referrer. She handles all my social media and helps from time to time with the admin side of things. She is always coming up to me with new ideas, saying ‘mum we should do this, and we should do that’. She’s extremely encouraging and is in awe of the TC family — she came to the Travel Counsellors annual global conference with me this year and has been quoting our sales director ever since. I’m very lucky to have such an amazing family behind me.
Tell us about any highlights in your year?
To my utter disbelief I won the Brides of Limerick Best Honeymoon Specialist, and I was totally blown away. I was up against a large well-known high-street agent and didn’t think for one moment I could win. Being nominated was an amazing feeling but to have won was unbelievable. I couldn’t have ever done this without Travel Counsellors, their support, encouragement and belief in me and my business; and my amazing clients, who took the time to vote for me. They entrust me to look after their travel requirements, making their dreams a reality.
If you are interested in returning to the travel industry, after a break of three years or more, we would love to have a confidential chat with you.