She’s a dance graduate turned travel agent evangelist - and one of TTG’s new 30 Under 30. Anneka Bones tells Chloe Cann what drew her back to the family business
When Anneka Bones, travel consultant at Southern Cross Travel, set out on a round-the-world trip with her boyfriend in 2009, she had no plans to get into travel, nor even definitive plans to return to the UK.
“I just thought, ‘Let’s see what happens on the trip,’” she says.
“I’ve got an Australian passport, so I can live out there if I want. But by the time we got to New Zealand, I started to think, ‘What can I do when I get back?’”
“I was working out our itinerary and I thought, ‘I really love this.’ It was like piecing a jigsaw together”
Bones realised that what she had been passionate about all along was travel. “I was the planner on the trip and I was working out our itinerary and I thought, ‘I really love this.’ It was like piecing a jigsaw together.”
In October 2010, just days after returning to the UK, she became a full-time travel consultant at Southern Cross Travel, an agency founded by her mother Penny in 1984.
Bones has worked at the agency in some capacity since she was 18. She began as a part-time “admin and brochure girl” doing filing and ensuring the agency looked tidy before and during her time at university.
“My parents were keen for me to get involved,” she says. “I was trained in-house by mum. They kept a close eye on me at first, but they trust me now.”
Her role has developed extensively since those early days. “It was quite a natural progression for me to look after the social media and marketing; as the youngest in the company they were very keen for me to take over that side of things. I was keen to progress in every aspect of the business.”
“I never say mum and dad in the office - it’s Penny and Trevor. It’s nicer to keep it separate”
As well as taking care of the social media and marketing, Bones keeps on top of the back-office paperwork; organises events - such as a recent luxury travel evening at a local castle attended by 72; has become a Canada specialist and an Aussie Specialist; and works on the frontline. Her multidimensional role at the firm was arguably her ticket to becoming one of this year’s 30 Under 30.
At the company’s two East Sussex branches, it is very much a family affair, she says. “It’s a combined effort. I’ll make an advert and
Penny will check it.”
She hastens to add that professional and personal relationships are kept distinct in the workplace. “I never say mum and dad in the office - it’s Penny and Trevor. It’s nicer to keep it separate. We do have a different relationship at work and at home. We haven’t throttled each other yet!”
While Bones still enjoys amateur dramatics, having trained in dance at university, travel has always been in her blood, she says. “We lived in Australia when I was little and me and my sisters have been dragged around the world,” she explains. “I’m very passionate about travel.”
Now, as the only 2014 Tomorrow’s Travel Leader to work as an independent, Bones is on a one-woman crusade to change the wider perceptions of the profession.
“People are coming back round to travel agents - they’re tired of organising holidays themselves. My aim as one of the 30 Under 30 is to make people aware that agents are still here.”