Not Just Travel homeworker Tracey Fordham from Norfolk tells Samantha Mayling how she generated £600,000 worth of bookings thanks to one neighbour.
Q. How did you get into travel?
A. I was a department manager in the housing sector. I’ve always loved travel and wanted a franchise that I could do part-time and build up when I retired. When I looked around, The Travel Franchise – the recruitment arm of Not Just Travel – stood out, so I joined in 2017. My first booking was with a friend – for two couples to Sandals in Jamaica, worth about £12,000-£14,000. When you make your first booking, Not Just Travel sends you a gift, like chocolates or a book – it’s really nice.
When you make your first booking, Not Just Travel sends you a gift, like chocolates or a book
Q. How did you cope in the pandemic?
A. Bookings were cancelled, so I was spending a lot of time on the phone trying to speak to suppliers. Some had made people redundant or staff were working from home. Sometimes I had to wait five hours on the phone. I was also shielding as I have [lung condition] COPD. Not Just Travel was there for me with brilliant support.
Q. How has Not Just Travel helped?
A. There was a lot of training with online webinars and face-to-face sessions when Covid allowed. The sessions really fire you up. I gravitate towards luxury but I can also book a Jet2holidays package. I also love cruising – I’m doing the Cruise Mastery training. I joined the inaugural Platinum conference in Birmingham recently, which was for members earning £20,000 or more in commission. It was lovely to make friends. And pre-Covid, I went on a Not Just Travel trip to Mauritius with Beachcomber.
People are fed up; they’ve had two or three years of saving so some can book bucket-list trips
Q. How have bookings been recently?
A. It was very busy in peaks. Some people are not spending the same as last year because of the cost of living. Flights are more expensive because of fuel and Covid. But people are fed up; they’ve had two or three years of saving so some can book bucket-list trips. Some are booking for 2024, but I am getting late bookings too. It is amazing how many people are thinking about 2024.
Q. Why is cruising important to your sales?
A. If you can get someone on a cruise ship, they are hooked. The market used to be mostly over-60s but now it is families with cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. It’s knowing about what is on offer and asking the right questions The most important question is ‘what don’t you like?’ It is often more important than ‘what do you like?’ I have been cruising for about 15 years. You unpack once and go to a different port each day to see different places. I was on Norwegian Prima with Not Just Travel last year – there were 200 of us. For some, it was their first cruise and they had not realised what cruising offered, they were so excited.
The market used to be mostly over-60s but now it is families with cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line
Q. What about your own travels?
A. I went to South Africa with my daughters in 1999 and to this day they still talk about it. If I can create memories for people, that makes my day. One of my daughters now lives in Australia, so I go there a lot. I visit California twice a year and I’ve been on about 15 cruises. Last year I went to Hawaii, took a cruise, joined a fam trip in Jamaica and had four weeks in Australia. I can work anywhere with my laptop. This year I will be going to Vienna for the Clia RiverView conference and will do pre and post-conference stays. I am going on MSC Ventura in April with a friend and possibly to Australia again in October.
This year I will be going to Vienna for the Clia RiverView conference and will do pre and post-conference stays
Q. Tell us about breeding Bengal cats.
A. I have been breeding them for 12 years. We have 10 cats, so we have to ask friends and family to help if we’re travelling. I spend a lot of time socialising the kittens and vetting buyers to make sure they go to good homes. I used to do a lot of cat shows, but I haven’t had time since Covid – but some breeders have bought holidays from me. The cats all have different personalities and they are very clever.
How have you generated £600,000 from one neighbour?
It started in spring 2019 after a conversation in the street about how busy I was. The neighbour recommended me to a multimillionaire friend who had been talking about booking a bucket-list holiday. They were a family of four travelling to Australia over Christmas in December 2019. It was worth £122,000. But one place was affected by the bush fires and so the operator and I worked late on December 23 that year to rebook their accommodation. I had to get the chap from the operator out of his work Christmas party. The family were impressed that we sorted it all out and before they came home, they were asking about another holiday.
One place was affected by the bush fires and so the operator and I worked late on December 23 that year to rebook their accommodation
It is all about customer service – we are there when things don’t go to plan. And we only work with excellent operators who go over and above when required. That client referred me to three other wealthy friends. It has led to many other big sales including a £69,000 ski booking to St Moritz, £142,000 to Antigua, £92,000 to Bora Bora and a £35,000 Disney trip – all from that initial referral.
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