It’s safe to say that at Travel Counsellors, people are our passion. We nurture a high-performance, people-orientated culture that drives results and brings out the best in everyone. We were delighted to welcome 4 new Travel Counsellors this summer - Chris Roach, Lisa Smith O’Brien, Suzie Hennessy and Deborah van Coller.
Chris, who is originally from Australia, has been living in Ireland for more than 20 years. He lives in Ashbourne, Co. Meath with his wife Michelle and his children, Amelia and Nathan.
“I was living in London for about 18 months in the late 90s and as I was thinking about heading home to Australia, I thought ‘Dublin’s a fun town, I’ll stop there for a few months and head away after that…’ 1 wedding, 1 mortgage and 2 kids later, I’m still here.
I was working as assistant manager of the Mercantile Bar on Dame St, but as I was getting married decided that I should get a “proper job”, and so I got a job in a retail travel agency. It was a fantastic place to learn the trade and how to sell, and how to overcome the difficulties that the world throws at us. I went through 9/11, the Tsunami, wars, the great recession, earthquakes, volcanoes, and epidemics to name a few such challenges.
All my life I have known that I was going to work for myself at some stage, but the time never seemed to be quite right. As preparation I went back to college and got an MBA and studied project management. I did my research and developed a business plan and realised that there would never be a ‘perfect’ time, and I made the leap to Travel Counsellors.
I was astounded by the welcome I got from everyone in the company, and although the training flew by so quickly, the ongoing engagement and assistance has been fantastic. I used to be in a support role, helping new travel consultants and I know that it can be difficult to keep calm and encouraging. I can only hope that I was as good as the very patient ladies in the Cork office.
The greatest thing about working for myself is the freedom it has given me to spend more time with my family. Without a commute, I am about 20 hours a week better off. I work about the same number of hours, but I get 2 hours more sleep at night, I’m far more active than I have been in years, I am meeting many more people than before and I now have the time and the freedom to do volunteer work within my community of Ashbourne. I only wish I’d done it years ago!”
Suzie, lives in Fermoy, Co. Cork with her husband Michael and their three children - Saoirse who is 13, Michael who is 9 and her baby Teidí who is 7 months. She worked in a local travel agency travel for 10 years before she moved to a role with a national healthcare company. After two years she found herself really missing travel and knew she had to follow her passion.
“I have wanted to be a Travel Counsellor for years. I had a meeting with Cathy Burke about 5 years ago, but I just simply didn’t have the confidence to take the jump. Each year I would receive a Happy New Year card from the team in the Cork office, and this year when the card came in the post, I realised just how much I wanted to be part of Travel Counsellors. I have to say it’s the best decision I have made in my career to date. I am excited about working my own hours and having time with my family. Knowing that I never have to ask for time off for important first days of school etc. means so much to me!
My experience since the very first meeting back in April of this year with Bernie Whelan and Cathy Burke has been fantastic. The training was excellent, and it gave me so much confidence. The support has been brilliant from everyone in the Cork office, especially from fellow Travel Counsellor Imelda McCarthy. I have access to the very best in-house booking systems, meaning I am free to choose the right products, at the best prices, to suit my customers’ individual needs. I’m excited to watch my business grow.”
Lisa Smith O'Brien:
Lisa started her travel career almost 20 years ago with Keycamp. She finished up in her latest role as a tour operator and retail travel agent after 11 years to set up her own business with Travel Counsellors. She lives in Midleton, Co. Cork with her husband Alan and 3 young boys Josh who is 6, Kalvin who is 5 and baby Jacob who is nearly 2 years old. Lisa is the second Travel Counsellor in Midleton, as she joins Imelda McCarthy who is already a franchisee in the area.
“I knew I wanted to change jobs, but I couldn’t see myself working in any other industry. I love what I do, and I really wouldn’t want to do anything else. Travel Counsellors offers me a totally new opportunity working for myself and I really felt ready for the challenge. My family was the deciding factor as owning my own travel business gives me a far better work life balance. I won’t be as dependent on someone else to pick the kids up from school and I get to be there with them every day in the afternoons.
Since my very first meeting with the team at Travel Counsellors, I have found the support amazing. There is always someone to help with questions and they are constantly checking in to see how I am getting on. I find the positive attitude of the company infectious. My fellow Travel Counsellors have been great and have all offered support.
Suzie and I worked together before so when I found out Suzie was also going to be joining Travel Counsellors on the same day as me, I was over the moon! She has been a great support to me, and we talk to each other every day.
I am really looking forward to creating amazing holidays and I am constantly learning about new destinations and products and putting amazing itineraries together. Working from home gives me so much more flexibility when dealing with customers. I can speak with them at a time that suits them and me and I can give them the time and attention that they need.
My own favourite destination to date is New York. My favourite holiday was my wedding in Lanzarote. We married in a gorgeous church in Uga and then had our reception and a fantastic 10 days in the Los Jameos Playa Hotel. Travel is my passion and I hope to be selling dream holidays for a long time to come.”
Deborah van Coller:
Deborah and her family moved to Ireland from Cape Town, South Africa in 2018. She is now happily settled and living in Blackrock, Co. Louth with her husband and two teenage daughters, Julia and Rebekah.
“My dad is Irish and has lived back in Ireland for 8 years. My brother, his Irish wife and children live in Dublin. My husband got a job offer for a company in Dundalk, so we moved to Blackrock in County Louth. We are happily settled and love being in Ireland.
I worked in travel for many years in Cape Town and in London. I also worked for myself as a Polygraph Examiner for 8 years. I have always enjoyed the flexibility of being self-employed and being available for my children. We have a busy household. Julia who is 12, swims for Division 2 on a National Level for Ireland. Rebekah, who is 14 plays piano as well as ballet. They have made such lovely Irish friends.
Joining Travel Counsellors has been a great decision for me. I have had such fabulous support from the beginning. I am not very technically strong, and the backup has been phenomenal! I feel like I know some of the other Travel Counsellors so well already in such a short amount of time. I love the flexibility it allows me, and I am looking forward to getting back into running again when the kids are back at school.
I love to travel. Kruger National Park in South Africa is my happy place. The closer I am to nature, the happier I am! Sitting under the stars at night and hearing a lion roar or a hyena in the distance gives me such a thrill!”