Trim-based Mandy Walsh joined Travel Counsellors in 2007 with 13 year's travel industry experience and Sinéad Lonergan, who lives in Delvin, Co. Westmeath, joined us in 2015 via our Travel Academy Programme.
“I was delighted when Sinéad decided to become a Travel Counsellor. Despite living near each other, I knew we would not be in direct competition.”
I first met Sinéad in 2009 at a BNI meeting at our local hotel where she was working as a wedding planner. We got on so well from the very first day we met, and we arranged to meet up afterwards to chat about Travel Counsellors for Sinéad’s brides & grooms going forward. I booked Sinéad’s own honeymoon and she referred me to lots of her wedding clients. We both have had interesting personal lives and we just connected straight away.
I was delighted when Sinéad decided to become a Travel Counsellor. Despite living near each other, I knew we would not be in direct competition with each other. It’s all about the people you know and the people they know, rather than the geographical location of your business - I have clients all over the country. Your business and network are personal to you. If anything, I looked at it as a positive opportunity to strengthen the Travel Counsellor’s brand in our area, as I knew Sinéad would be an incredible asset to the company.
We learn a lot from each other, as we do from all our fellow colleagues. Sinéad is my ‘go-to’ for advice for all my cruise queries, as she is an expert in the world of cruise! I always say we learn something new every day in the travel trade and it can be hard at times to keep up to speed on everything that is happening. When we’re away on our own holidays and trips, we cover each other’s businesses. We also love to travel regularly together. Our two daughters have a great relationship now too, despite their age gap. It’s lovely for us to be able to hang out together with the girls!
Mandy sending me the link to investigate becoming a Travel Counsellor myself was probably the most helpful thing she has ever done for me. It was at that point I sat down and really took stock of what I wanted for my family life and career. Having weighed up the pros and cons of leaving a well-paid job which I loved, versus leaping into the unknown and starting my own business as a Travel Counsellor, the real ‘light-bulb moment’ for me was when I was driving to work one day and I passed Mandy on the road walking Ella to school. I knew there and then, that becoming a mother for the first time, running a business and having a work life balance was achievable.
I was nervous about telling Mandy of my decision to become a Travel Counsellor, as I did not want to negatively affect our great friendship in any way. I knew I would no longer be booking with Mandy myself or indeed referring her to my clients anymore. Her response to my news was simply phenomenal – she told me that I would make a great Travel Counsellor and that she would help and guide me along the way in any way she could. On this statement she has delivered time and time again. Mandy and I are always there for each other. She has helped me to grow my business from day one. We sing each other’s praises and we are really proud of what each other achieves.
Although Mandy is busy balancing her own successful business as a Gold Travel Counsellor and her personal commitments for herself and her beautiful daughter Ella, she is never too busy to help me with enquiries or advice. She has encouraged me throughout my journey from the very beginning and helps me believe in myself on a whole new level.