Meet Chantal: From living all over the world to settling in the Winelands I have now started my own travel business

Travel is in Chantal’s blood, along with her passion and love for the industry. Nothing was going to stop her from getting her business off the ground, not even Covid-19!

Having completed her induction training online she is rearing to go and to build her business. We caught up with Chantel to ask her some questions about herself and her journey to becoming a Travel Counsellor.

What is your background and where did you work before becoming a Travel Counsellor? I spent 9 years living abroad after university. I was very fortunate to live in some of the most exciting and vibrant hubs in the world, from New York to Dubai, Shanghai and Hong Kong. I finally returned home in 2014, where my career in the travel industry began. I worked as a travel consultant at Pentravel for 2 years before moving to work as an assistant for an independent travel agent. I learnt so much during this time especially in the leisure sector. In 2018, I joined Edusport as a Sports Travel Consultant. This was initially very challenging for me, but I soon learnt the ins and outs of this niche sector in the travel industry and grew from strength to strength. My love of this industry grew even more when I was offered the opportunities to lead tour groups to the Soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018, and the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. These are highlights of my travel career! During all this time, the idea of starting my own travel agency had been brewing…

Tell us a little bit about yourself I've recently moved from KZN to Somerset West with my mom. My dad sadly passed away at the end of 2018, so we needed a new start together. We absolutely love this region and as avid wine lovers; we think we have found the perfect spot to call home! I have loved travelling for as long as I can remember with various members of my family working in both aviation as well as hospitality. It always seemed a natural fit that I would end up in travel too! I have lived and worked in the USA, UAE, China and Hong Kong and I travelled extensively while I lived there. My top five favourite travel destinations are: Istanbul, Seattle, Amsterdam, Florence and Moscow. I am a bookworm so can often be found snuggled up on a cold winter's day with a good book and glass of red wine. On other days, you will find me outdoors, either running, walking or enjoying a braai with my family and friends.

What does become a Travel Counsellor mean for you? Becoming a Travel Counsellor is a goal that I have been working on since my return to SA in 2014. I am a self-motivated and driven person, so I know that I have what it takes to make my business a success. I learnt so much during my previous travel roles and built amazing relationships with clients during this time. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to continue building on these relationships and developing my business into something that is uniquely my own. I will be able to dedicate more time to meeting new clients and growing my business and I look forward to working hours that allow for more time to be spent with family and for personal travel.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Travel Counsellor? I'm most looking forward to joining a company that is well-established, organised and supportive. I'm excited to build relationships with other TCs and becoming part of this community. I'm also excited to tap into a new market in Somerset West and to expand into the corporate sector.

Have you set yourself any goals or milestones for what you want to achieve in your first year? My focus in my first year is going to primarily be on securing new local business. My previous clients have mostly been leisure based so am looking to tap into the corporate sector more. It would be ideal to secure a few corporates and provide all their business and personal travel needs. Domestic and international travel may not open fully this year, however I can certainly start initiating the relationships with these clients. I know that I would like to reach TC Gold within 2 years, so that is my milestone that I am going to be working towards daily!

I am excited by the opportunity of growing my own business right from where I live. There are over 600 houses in my estate. I am starting to introduce myself and starting to build relationships with my neighbours. Many of these introductions will hopefully provide leads for corporate and leisure travel. The advantage is that I can meet the clients both on a personal level as well as extend these meetings into their workplaces.

What do you love most about working in the travel industry? What I love most about the travel industry is that no two days are ever the same! Each day brings opportunities for meeting new clients and creating exciting quotations. I love discussing various destinations with clients and working with them from quotation to travel stage. It's such a privilege to see the client's excitement and see and hear their experience during and after their travels! I also love experiencing new destinations in my personal capacity and then sharing my experiences with my clients. Clients love buying from someone that they trust and who can provide first-hand experience of the destinations.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I would love to experience the romance and history of Cuba. Having visited Little Havana in Miami, I was enthralled by the culture of Cuba and would love to step back in time and see the classic American cars and fascinating architecture, not to mention sipping on one of their rum cocktails! Another destination on my bucket list is Iceland. I would love to experience the hot springs and marvel at the dramatic landscape of glaciers and lava fields. It would be a stark departure from any other destination I have ever visited and am intrigued by this country.

If you can relate to Chantals passion for travel and if you would like to explore the opportunity about what is involved in starting your own travel business then please get in touch and we would love to speak to you.

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