Agent Diary: ‘Hope is the tool that gives us power and confidence’

We must have faith in our businesses. Faith gives us the optimism that leads to us achieving our goals, says Thompson Travel’s Sharon Thompson. 

I had the privilege of being invited to attend an Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE) event in Dublin on March 9 as a guest speaker. It was a lovely afternoon with the Spanish Tourist Office reminding us of the beauty of Spain.

Complimentary cheese and wine tasting was followed by a delicious lunch. As I prepared to deliver my talk, I couldn’t help but think it might have been a tad easier to have been the before-dinner speaker rather than the speaker tasked with presenting after such a feast…

My life in travel

Some weeks before the event, I’d been approached by chairperson Ciara Foley who had asked me to speak about my life and career in the travel industry. I was happy to do so, although I must say I find it much easier chatting about holiday destinations than myself. After all, it was hard for me to imagine I could bring anything more inspirational to the table than those in the audience of women sat in front of me.

My story seemed like a tale of beauty and tragedy, but that is how life goes. Life deals us all different blows, some of which we tolerate and learn to live with, others that we grapple and struggle with.

Five years ago, my daughter married. She sent me a beautiful photo album the following Mother’s Day entitled ‘Mum’, which contained lots of photos of us, including some from the special wedding day.

Some weeks before the event, I’d been approached by chairperson Ciara Foley who had asked me to speak about my life and career in the travel industry

In the back cover of the album it reads ‘Faith, hope and love’. These three words have guided me and provided inspiration throughout my life, such as when I navigated Covid or simply when I go about daily business. It seemed only right that it was the theme of my talk to the fantastic women in our industry.

We must have faith in our businesses. If not, we have fear. We don’t board a plane worrying if the pilot will get us there. If we did, the journey would be anxiety-inducing. Faith gives us the optimism that leads to us achieving our goals.

Hope is our belief in a positive result. It’s our feeling of desire or expectation. Hope isn’t our business plan or strategy, but it is the tool that gives us power and confidence. Hope is the last thing that’s ever lost.

Love conquers all

Love is self-explanatory. No matter what the situation, it is the greatest of these three powers. Travel can be a fine line between love and hate, but love conquers all, whether at home or in our professional careers.

Love gives passion. It’s 10 years since I won Advantage’s version of Dragons’ Den and I still use a quote that one of the judges, Jonathan Wall of accountancy firm Elman Wall, said to me: “You have a passion for what you do, and others see that too.” It was true then and still is to this day.

It is the contribution of both men and women, not just one of the two, which makes our industry great 

While I spoke to the women of our industry, I became aware that there was only one gentleman in the audience, who was from the Spanish Tourist Office. It would have been great to have had more men there as I believe the invite was open to all.

It’s important to remember that it is the contribution of both men and women, not just one of the two, which makes our industry great and will ensure its longevity.


Straight to the point, please

I am very simple-minded when it comes to understanding and approaching life and business. I like straight talking, I hate jargon, and I’m not impressed with superior attitudes in business. Do your suppliers ever send you copious amounts of information on how your sales look each month, with columns and columns of figures? I jump straight to the bottom line. How did we perform? How far off target were we? Is this product a top priority for us now? There is nothing worse than setting yourself massive goals only to achieve very little. We don’t remember all the stats, we remember what’s important. Perhaps it’s just me, but a more streamlined approach would be welcomed!

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