I know this will date me, but I’ve been a travel agent since the days of calling the airline. The only classes were Y or B. Your hands cramped from writing those four coupon conjunction tickets—and we used a typewriter to prepare documents. I was fortunate that the agency where I did my travel school practicum hired me. Two Scotsmen who let me do a wee bit of everything owned it, so I learned a lot. After that I taught a travel course. I enjoyed inspiring my students to be successful in a profession I was passionate about.
In the years I was away from the work force to raise my two children, I was the classroom volunteer, PTA president, and operated the ‘Mom Taxi.’ I also spent time reassessing what I wanted to do with my career. I looked into becoming a paralegal, but there aren’t all those lawyer jokes for nothing. So I gave that a pass and realized that my heart and soul was in travel.
For many years, I worked in traditional storefront agencies – full-time, part-time, and even temping. Temping in the travel business meant that I didn’t know if I’d be handling complicated itineraries or cleaning out their back room! My son’s favorite job of mine was Sunshine Village, a ski out resort in Banff. He enjoyed a great winter of snowboarding.
My career came to a point where I was comfortable enough to leave my son at home and know that my house would (hopefully) be in the same shape when I returned; so I starting doing some longer and bigger FAMS and trips. The most memorable was to East Africa – hearing a woman from a small village in Uganda tell us about her life, quietly watching the animals on safari, and trekking to visit the gorillas in Rwanda.
A year and a half ago, the agency I worked for closed their storefront, and I am now an independent consultant with Tier One Travel in Calgary. I’ve flubbed a few things in setting up my business and had to go back, redo and tweak them, but I’m learning.
I’ve learned things that I’m not good at doing, or maybe it’s just that I don’t like to do, and I find it is worth the money to hire someone to do it for me. The day-to-day bookkeeping I’m fine with. For my taxes this year, I’m hiring an accountant. Updating a booking form was just not happening, so I hired an office assistant company and it was done within a day. Bonus for me because it’s my daughter-in-law’s business and she gave me a good rate!
I’ve learned that I like working from home. I enjoy the personal life/work balance, and not commuting on a snowy day is great. Sure I may work some evening or weekends, but it’s my choice.
I’ve learned to work smarter by using other agents as a resource. There are more than 70 of us at Tier One; one time I reached out for ideas for an email newsletter. It saved me a lot of time, seeing what and how they produce theirs, and mine will be ready to go soon. I’ve learned to use a video in a newsletter from Nolan Burris. I’d love to learn from you as well. Let me know any tips you have to make a newsletter successful by reaching out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope in the next year I can continue to learn, and that you can learn from me as well. Welcome aboard!
Melanie Hersom is an independent consultant with Tier One Travel in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She believes in providing Personalized Vacations and Exotic Adventures. Melanie loves spending time with her granddaughter and looks forward the birth of two more grandchildren this year. “I don’t want to go anywhere twice until I’ve been everywhere once.”