Alison Wood has been in the travel industry for 26 years and worked at Excelle in Leeds for six. TTG got all the answers about her career in this Q&A.
A friend of mine wanted to be a travel rep but was too scared to go to the interview alone so I went with her – I ended up getting the job and she didn’t!
"I was 18 and had a boring job in an insurance office at the time."
I was 18 and had a boring job in an insurance office at the time.
Two weeks later I was in Majorca. I did two seasons with ILG and one with Cosmos and loved the job, but I noticed other reps were settling down and getting married to their Spanish boyfriends.
I didn’t want to marry mine, so I came home! Later, I booked a holiday at Pickfords Travel, got talking and landed a job there.
Going it alone after taking redundancy from Thomas Cook. I joined Global Travel Group because I got a great deal, and after six months in business I won the group’s Best Newcomer award.
It was a sign I’d made the right decision to start Excelle Travel.
I work weekends so always take a day off in the week to go out with girlfriends. It’s always to go shopping and have cocktails.
I had a client who was a cricket umpire. He wanted to take a group of 100 people to Barbados, with a mix of seven-, 14-, and 21-night stays. It took months to organise but resulted in a £150,000 booking.
It was South Africa with Virgin Atlantic. We flew Upper Class, stayed at the One&Only Cape Town, went to all the sights like Table Mountain and Robben Island, then visited the wine region and did a safari – it was magical.
I wasn’t confident about South Africa beforehand, but I have since sold that trip lots of times to people who want something special.
It was from a guy who wanted to climb Mount Pedro, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka.
He wanted to get there on Christmas Eve and get to the top so he could “touch the sky”.
It has to be cookies.
One client asked for a flight from Leeds to East Anglia because they had heard it was a nice place – they thought East Anglia was in the US!
The Cayman Islands. It’s so relaxed and has lots of flexibility.
Maybe running my own bar. Or I’d be in Spain, married to my Spanish boyfriend!
Running your own business takes a lot out of you, so it’s lazy holidays for me.
When my daughter was born my mum said I had to make lots of time for memories because kids grow up too quickly. I’m glad I took her advice.
Save your money – I spent far too much on clothes, makeup, going out and boys!
Richard Branson. On my fam trip to South Africa, we spent a day painting a school he was helping to build.
All fam trips should include a bit of giving back in the itinerary; we’re very lucky in our industry.
Hopefully Sri Lanka. The bombs in April really hit business there.