Taking the leap of faith to start your own travel business is scary. It is reassuring to know that there are 150 other Travel Counsellors in SA plus, 1900 Travel Counsellors globally who have taken the same step. They all say that it has been the best decision that they have made.
Kerith was our 151st Travel Counsellor. She has completed her 5-day induction and her business is already off to a flying start. We caught up with her and asked her to share more about her journey in becoming a Travel Counsellor.
What is your travel background and where did you work before becoming a Travel Counsellor? While studying biochemistry at university, I started working in the events industry. I was quickly drawn to its dynamic and fast paced nature. In 2007 I moved to Europe and became a Tour Manager for Contiki. During this time I took 40 groups including a three-month long training trip for new Tour Managers in 2010. My passion for the travel industry had well and truly bitten me. When I returned to South Africa, I moved towards the travel logistics side of the events industry. In 2018 I decided that I wanted to be able to ticket and manage my groups and incentives rather than working through an agent. I completed my Galileo courses and I started working with a small ITC. I took a few groups during that year and I realized that I still loved to travel with people. I was with that agency for a year and then I made the decision to move to Travel Counsellors. I made the move so that I could enjoy the benefits of having better support and buying power.
Tell us a little bit about yourself I am a born and bred-Joburger and live with my boyfriend and our three dogs – who run the house! I am a passionate cyclist, and regularly compete with my team – INSPIRE. We are involved in a community development through a shared love of cycling and do kit and equipment donations to under-resourced cyclists. It brings me great joy to be able to make a difference in people’s lives through cycling. One of my greatest adventures was cycling from Joburg to Cape Town in 2016 – a 14-day incredible trip through some of our own country’s most beautiful areas and towns. I am a history fanatic – there is nothing better than a great historical novel or TV series. I have been lucky enough to travel to 46 countries including all of Europe, some of the East, and quite a lot of Africa. My absolute favorite place to be (I sometimes must force myself to holiday elsewhere) is France – I would move to a small village there tomorrow if I could!
What does becoming a Travel Counsellor mean to you? For me it's the chance to run an independent travel business, but with the full support of a fantastic and experienced team. This is what drew me to Travel Counsellors. I love that I can draw on the knowledge from 1900 Travel Counsellors from across the globe and that I am positioned to offer my customers the very best service. The Travel Counsellors software systems impress me more every day. The training videos and product knowledge courses help me feel more comfortable.
What motivated you to start your own travel business? When I worked with large groups – up to 2000 pax with flights, hotel and transfers as well as RSVP management – I found it frustrating working with travel agents that were not invested in the success of the group. They turned their phones off and didn’t seem to have the passion that I had to create a perfect experience for every guest. I wanted to be able to manage the full process (control freak) to ensure that I could deliver a consistent level of service through the whole process. I also wanted to develop school tours to share my love of travelling, history and culture. I knew that becoming a Travel Counsellor would mean that I could combine my skills and experience into a full event logistics offering.
What are you looking forward to most about being a Travel Counsellor? Learning new skills, from the head office support team and from other Travel Counsellors. Meeting and getting to know other Travel Counsellors – coming from a one-man agency this is a big deal to me! Developing and growing my travel business and delivering exceptional service standards.
Have you set yourself any goals or milestones for your first year? One of the goals is to grow my leisure sales and to focus on building a solid database of clients. I also have a desire to pitch for and to win a global incentive directly. I plan to continue to grow my knowledge and skills.
What do you love most about working in the travel industry? I love to see the photographs that my customers send me, the size of their smiles and the joy that they experience in their travels. On the MICE side, I love the challenge of moving large groups of people smoothly – be it through Africa or to the Maldives, there is a certain buzz to working in group travel and being successful in it. I believe that to travel is to live, so for me to be an insider to the industry that so many people aspire to, brings my passion to life.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? My current obsession is Georgia and Azerbaijan. The next time that I plan my own holiday it must be to central Asia! I believe that this region will be a booming tourist destination in the next couple of years. I would love to see the architecture and scenery firsthand. I’ve been fascinated by Japan for ages too, and with the large sports events there in 2019 and 2020 I have had loads of friends travel there – it looks like an incredible destination. I would also love to see the gorillas and visit Rwanda, which everyone says it is the most wonderful country. But I will take any destination any time – that is what travel is all about!
If you too can relate to Kerith's journey in becoming a Travel Counsellor, as well as her passion for travel and her desire to better service her customers then we would love to chat to you.