Karina is a working mother. She is based in Fairwater and is a Travel Counsellor representative for Cardiff! Here she is telling us the joys of her job and why you should call her for your next holiday!
How did you get into being a travel counsellor?
I was previously a Geography teacher and so I always had good destination knowledge and an interest in the world. I have travelled extensively and even after having children, I didn’t stop globetrotting. I had always wanted to work in the travel industry. I took a career break after having my two children and felt like it was a good time to take the plunge. Travel Counsellors offered me the perfect opportunity because I run my own business in my own hours so I can fit my job in around my children. In actual fact, this works really well because it often means I end up working late into the evening but this is when my customers are home from work and it means I am on hand to talk holidays and offer them travel related advice at hours that suit them.
What sort of holidays and travel services can you provide?
Literally anything from luxury beach holidays, to exclusive honeymoon destinations, ski trips, city breaks, cruises, safaris, UK holidays, group holidays, educational visits and budget family getaways. I can also organise flights, transfers, travel insurance, car hire, and tickets to most attractions. No matter what size your travel plans, whether you know exactly what you want or need inspiration, I can help.
What are the advantages of using a Travel Counsellor?
Travel Counsellors have access to hundreds of suppliers using our award winning technology. We are fully independent and so I can sell anything from pre-packaged tour operator products to tailor-made itineraries. For example, I can sell holidays from most of the well-known tour operators such as Thomas Cook, Olympic Holidays, Hayes and Jarvis, Kuoni, James Villas, Premier Holidays, Jet2, Club Med, Sunvil, Hoseasons etc but I can also package your travel arrangements together in house as a Travel Counsellors package and create a holiday that is completely bespoke and personalised to your needs. My research skills are second to none and I treat every customer’s travel plans with the same meticulous attention to detail as if they were my own. I can literally save you hours of precious time trawling the internet and my services won’t cost you any extra because the suppliers pay my commission. From seeking out the best accommodation in top quality locations, to securing fantastic deals, if it exists then rest assured I will find it!
Another benefit of Travel Counsellors is that everything booked through me has 100% financial protection – in fact, Travel Counsellors offer the best level of financial protection in the industry. I cannot stress how important it is to have fully financially protected travel arrangements in place. This is evidenced by recent events such as the collapse of Monarch airlines, the cancellation of 400,000 Ryan Air flights over the summer and hurricane Irma. All Travel Counsellors customers had their holidays rescheduled and rebooked at no extra cost or hassle to the client.
I also work hours to suit my customers which means I am available evenings and weekends which is something you would not get from your local travel shop. In fact, my service is available 24 hours 7 days a week so if you have any holiday emergencies, you can feel rest assured that I am only a phone call away to help sort things out. I am also the single point of contact for all customer enquiries which means I get to know all of my customers really personally. I have the back up of a fantastic team of 250 staff at head office in Manchester and of course, I am proud to be part of such a well respected company as Travel Counsellors.
What are you currently working on right now?
I am currently in the process of organising a wedding in Rhodes followed by a honeymoon in Kos for a customer on an incredibly tight budget. All other tour operators thought her budget was impossible but I have managed to put a fantastic trip together for her. One of the benefits of our wedding packages is that there is no minimum amount of time that you have to be in resort for prior to the wedding. Most travel companies will insist on at least 7 days stay pre wedding which pushes the price up considerably.
I am also putting together a family friendly, tailor made tour around Sri Lanka for a couple with two toddlers, I’m arranging a week’s holiday to Mallorca for a group of 50 families travelling out there for a sporting event, I’m pricing up an Easter break to Dubai, and I have a few package holidays to the Mediterranean that I am pricing up.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I can’t really pin point any one particular accomplishment but I am proud of my the way in which I look after my customers and always do what’s right for them. One example is a customer that had booked a Jet2 package through me. 10 days before their holiday, Jet2 contacted them and told them there was building work going on at their hotel. Jet2 offered to switch the customer’s hotel but insisted they paid the difference in price if the new hotel was more expensive. With such limited time before their travel date, all other hotels were twice the price of the original holiday they had booked. I spent hours on the phone to Jet2 arguing their case and eventually got Jet2 to refund them in full. This was not given to any other customer. I then worked through the night to find them an alternative holiday and eventually booked them a Thomas Cook package at 7am the following morning! I also contacted the new hotel and requested a free upgrade for my customers. My customers were expecting to stay in a one bedroom studio but when they arrived on holiday they got a two bedroom apartment.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I love putting together tailor made itineraries. It allows me to be really creative, to suggest ideas to the customer, and to use my destination knowledge to the maximum. The end result is always satisfying because I know I’ve created something that is totally unique and could not be bought on the internet or the high street.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
That’s easy. I always wanted to work in travel!
Where’s your favourite place in the world?
I absolutely love the Indian Ocean and in particular, the Maldives. I’m fortunate enough to have been there three times and to have stayed on 4 of the different island resorts. I love the powder white sand beaches, the azure blue sea and the feeling of being totally castaway – except for the luxury of course. I’m also a keen scuba diver and the Maldives offers some of the best diving in the world.
What piece of advice would you give to young entrepreneurs starting out in your field?
Travel as much as possible because nothing can replace first hand destination experience. Keep up to date with all the latest developments in the world of travel through training and reading travel publications, be prepared to work long hours but know that the harder you work, the more rewarding the job is!