In 2008 Gemma Antrobus became Managing Director of Surrey-based travel agency Haslemere Travel, which consists of a retail shop in Haslemere and a division of Elite homeworking Consultants based across the UK. In 2014 she was appointed as the first female chairman of the independent travel organisation, AITO Specialist Travel Agents. Gemma grew up in a travel industry family, studied international hospitality management at the University of Brighton and then spent the next seven years in international companies in the travel, hotel, events and restaurant sectors.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
Wise words from the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.
I too believe it’s very important to see the world and different cultures. Travel opens our minds to new things and we can experience life in exciting, different ways. Importantly, it gives us the opportunity to disconnect from our regular life; and new experiences can increase our resourcefulness and inspire confidence.
Different cultures and social norms
Travelling also teaches you about different cultures and social norms. This has become very valuable knowledge, as the global economy has gone mobile and inevitably we all work and interact with people from all over the world.
Above all, I have noticed that people who have travelled a great deal are more inclined to embrace change and invariably have the natural ability of overcoming problems that others might find daunting. Travel also teaches you people skills, opens up new horizons and encourages people to step out of their rut or ‘comfort-zone’.
Making decisions and then living with the consequences
For me, travel is all about making decisions and then living with the consequences. It means weighing up the pros and cons, identifying goals and creating a path to achieve those goals; all vital skills in the business world.
Recently, I have put my belief in the benefits of travel into practice within my own company, with the launch of Haslemere Travel’s new homeworking network. Our team of Elite Consultants work remotely and offer a completely personalised travel consultancy service. But the key point of difference about our Elite Consultants is that none of them were formerly travel professionals – however, they must have a passion for travel and above all, be well-travelled.
Their passport stamps are even more impressive than their careers
We made the decision to recruit a variety of non travel-trained professionals, educated people who had vast experience of the world. Ranging in age from early 30s upwards, our Elite Consultants have a variety of former professions – such as a GP, lawyer, mortgage adviser, accountant, interior designer and teacher – but their passport stamps are even more impressive than their careers.
Men have applied, but have yet to join…
A quick look at their varied travel histories includes time spent living in Pakistan, growing up in Botswana and also in South Africa and a multitude of holidays to destinations as far flung as Argentina, Bali, the Maldives and Fiji. And so far all of them are female; men have applied, but have yet to join.
Paid on commission, they dedicate at least 25 hours a week to the role and must have a good high net worth network to sell to, as Haslemere Travel specialises in the luxury holiday market.
Currently we have representatives based in Edinburgh, Essex, London and the southern Home Counties. Working remotely, our Elite Consultants are able to have a more flexible approach to how and when they communicate with clients; it may be evenings, weekends, via phone, e-mail or they meet clients personally at a time and place that is mutually convenient to discuss travel plans.
Forging unique relationships
Over time they forge unique personal relationships and understand their clients in such depth that finding them the perfect holiday is no longer difficult. They have become friends, someone that can be relied upon to guarantee that precious holiday time is perfect.
Home based: Dedication, self-control and discipline
Working from home is not for everyone. It takes a lot of dedication, self-control and discipline to motivate yourself working at home alone over the long run without succumbing to distractions and losing drive and momentum. However, our Elite Consultants benefit from the training and experience of our expert team at our agency in Haslemere, and are supported by our administration department and attention to detail behind the scenes.
Flexibility is vital
Like any business, if they have a good marketing plan and an excellent network of contacts, it can be a very attractive and lucrative proposition. Flexibility is vital; from the start we give them a pre-loaded laptop with cloud-based technology to enable them to work anywhere with internet access, initial IT training and the benefit of a dedicated Business Development Manager as well as their own page on our website.
On payment of their sign-up fee, they are given business cards and personalised marketing brochures to distribute. We have dedicated travel updates with all the retail team in Haslemere, sales skills training sessions twice a year and quarterly training sessions with visiting tour operators, as well as social events. And if they meet certain targets they are offered the perfect incentive, more overseas travel; trips to Italy and St Lucia are very recent examples.
Travel is at the heart of everything I do
Travel is at the heart of everything I do and love, and I firmly believe it should be a vital step on any corporate career ladder, but a recent US survey concluded it can even also keep you healthy; according to the 2013 study, women who only travelled every six years or less had a significantly higher risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death compared with women who took a holiday at least twice a year.
I rest my case.