What’s it like to work remotely for a year while travelling the world with your family? Claire Belsey, a Personal Travel Agent at Co-operative Travel, explains.
Taking your business on the road for a year abroad can offer an invaluable learning experience in selling holidays to clients, as one of the Personal Travel Agents (PTAs) at Co-operative Travel is discovering.
“Having had a number of wonderful opportunities with the PTAs to travel to exotic places, it was clear that visiting countries and getting a true feel for their culture was priceless in giving great advice and tailoring holidays to my clients,” explains PTA Claire Belsey, who is working part-time as she travels the world with her husband and two young children.
She has gained first-hand experience of “slow travel” – enjoying countries at a leisurely pace – journeying through destinations including Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia.
Belsey believes the knowledge she has accumulated will make her a better travel agent in the long-term.
“Meeting local people and immersing myself in their cultures has not only helped me grow as a person, but has given me the skills to advise my clients in a way I could never have done from online training,” she says.
Although Belsey says it has been harder to advertise and market her business while abroad, she believes that by maintaining an online presence, she’ll stay on clients’ radars.
“Most of my clients have kept up with our adventures either on my PTA social media accounts or on the personal Facebook travel blog we set up, ‘Away with the Belseys’.
“I have still been able to speak to many [clients] and tailor some superb holidays.”
Belsey has also kept in touch with her clients using email and WhatsApp. She also has help from three nominated PTA “Travel Buddies”, who keep in touch with clients for her during moments when maintaining contact is difficult.
Belsey explains: “The time difference can mean that I am out of sync with my clients and there have been occasions where Wi-Fi or data hasn’t been available.
“For these times, I have some wonderful colleagues who have been more than happy to resolve any issues I cannot deal with.”
Despite a potential temporary slowdown of her business, Belsey says the PTAs have been very supportive of her decision.
“They have recognised, as I did, that my business will suffer a dip in the short-term, but that in the long-term I will be a far better travel agent.
"I also have the full support of my administration team for ticketing.”
With current and upcoming destinations on the trip including Australasia, Thailand, Borneo, Indonesia, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka and a to-be-confirmed destination in Africa, Belsey is confident she will continue learning on behalf of her clients on this trip.
“I’ve gained insights into countries I’d maybe never have visited on a personal holiday or fam trip, and places I wouldn’t have considered for most clients until now. It certainly wouldn’t be for everyone, but I am treating it as a year’s educational, and I am living life with no regrets.”