Helga joined Travel Counsellors on the 3rd of October 2019
We caught up with Helga to find out how she began her career in travel and how she is so successful.
How did you come to start your career in Travel?
Helga decided to go to Stellenbosch to study, after school but realized that it wasn't what she wanted to do. Her parents were happy for her to not to go if she found something else. Helga signed up to do a Travel and Tourism diploma and the rest is history. She got a job straight after her studies and I worked in Pretoria until I got married in December 2007. That is when I moved to my husband’s family farm in Northern KZN. It is an organic citrus farm and they also produce essential oils. The farm is in the middle of nowhere, so I have learnt to cook, bake, build and to make everything that I need.
We have a daughter, Lea who is 6 years old and in grade one.
We live on our little ‘old Mcdonalds’ farm with our 5 cats and 2 dogs. We also have one ‘sir and all his madams‘ – our peafowls running around in the garden eating all my grapes and flowers in the garden.
I knew getting married and moving to the farm would mean giving up my job and life in Pretoria. I resigned and sold my townhouse and decided that I would find a job in the new year and went on honeymoon. Coming from a corporate background and working for an in-house, I did not think I had a future in travel. But to my surprise we were on our way back from our honeymoon, when I got a call from my previous line manager asking me if I wanted to join her as an ITC.
I started in the January and by the end of 2008 we had a flourishing business. We managed to build it up to the point that we had a few other consultants working for us. After about 7 years we decided to sell the business. I continued working for the company for a further 2 years. There was no travel agency for 200km from where I stayed.
What lead you to join Travel Counsellors?
A very dear friend and someone I worked with for many years had joined Travel Counsellors. I had corporate travellers wanting to go to the Olympics very last minute. I managed to get some package deals but needed some extra tours etc. There were no operators in SA that could sell any tours. I contacted her to see if she had any ideas, and it was as simple as one, two three. As a Travel Counsellor she had access to what I needed and her documentation was so professional. I was blown away.
What are your thoughts about being an ITC?
It is not easy. You must be disciplined. Having your own business gives you freedom to service your clients in the way that you want to service them. You are never restricted to say, ‘I need to check with my Manager’ or ‘Sorry it’s against company policy’.
It afforded me the opportunity to watch my baby grow up and I never missed out. Now that she is bigger, I am a more flexible too. I often sit outside Gymnastics in the car working whilst I wait for her. Sometimes I will go and work at a coffee shop. I can have my hair done and still be available to my clients. My Corporates expect me to be available. As long as you have your laptop, phone and internet connection you can work from anywhere.
What do you think about the support that you get from Travel Counsellors?
The support that I get from Travel Counsellors head office is brilliant. They give everyone the opportunity to be the best that they can be. I don’t believe there is anyone else in the market who offers the same level of support. It is ideal for anyone starting up or wanting to grow their business.
What do your customers love most about your being a Travel Counsellor?
My customers love the MY TC App and they appreciate that I am always available to them.
What do you love most about working in the travel industry?
The Travel Industry is tough, but any industry that requires selling is challenging. In travel you always learn something new and it is evolving. I like the different commodities – we don’t only sell air or hotels. I think that I can say that I have even qualified as an all-round counsellor too!
What has brought you your success?
I put my heart and soul into everything that I do, and this brings me my success.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Travel Counsellors?
I would suggest that you have a plan and get yourself organized before you start. Once you start make sure you follow that plan all the way through. Be disciplined and honest with yourself. When I am not busy, I use that time for training and to up-skill myself. This is never a waste of time.
Don't allow where you live to put you off from starting your own business. Travel Counsellors will help you to build you client base.