Jodie Stuart, key account manager, Gold Medal and Travel 2, on helping agents boost sales, the importance of regular training and her admiration of the G Adventures ethos
Did you always want to work in travel?
I got into the travel industry completely by accident. I was at sixth form at the time, and a family member worked in a Tui call centre. They suggested I go in for an interview as they were looking for people to cover weekends and evenings. I loved that job, and I learnt so much about the industry.
What was your first job in the industry?
After university, I had roles at Co-operative Travel and then went on to Cruise & Maritime Voyages, where I worked as a sales and marketing executive. After nine months, I was promoted to a business development manager. This experience enabled me to take on other roles at Saga and Attraction World, where I increased my product awareness and had the chance to work in other sectors of the industry.
What inspired you to join Gold Medal and Travel 2?
I knew a lot about Gold Medal and Travel 2; they’re two of the largest tour operators around. It was their reputation as being trade-friendly brands that drew me to them. I also love the range of products they sell.
What does your role entail?
My role involves building and maintaining relationships within the south-east region. I also work with accounts on marketing campaigns to help grow business. The most challenging aspect of the job is keeping up-to-date with the vast amount of products we sell plus changes within the industry.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I go into the industry because I love to travel; I find destination training fascinating. I also really like sharing that knowledge with the agent partners we work with. Holding training sessions with agents who then go on to make a booking is amazing.
What has been your career highlight?
The greatest triumph in my role is when you work closely with an account to grow their business. Coming up with new marketing ideas and seeing them produce results that benefit the agents you work with is particularly rewarding. One industry figure that has inspired me is our managing director Lisa McAuley. We started our travel careers in a similar way, and I would one day love to emulate the success she has.
What are the main challenges facing the travel industry?
I think one of the main challenges facing the industry is the reduced flight options following the collapse of Thomas Cook Airlines. I’ve had a lot of feedback from agents who say the limited availability on certain routes has affected pricing. I would like to see new routes being added by existing airlines and for tour operators to offer allocations for the trade on chartered flights.
How can the travel industry be smarter, better and fairer in 2020?
The industry could be fairer by more businesses offering price parity through the trade. Agents get behind companies that do this, so it would be great to see it happen on a wider scale. Put yourself or staff forward for training opportunities to keep up-to-date with industry trends too. I’ve attended social media and product training this year and have benefited hugely from them both.
What are your hobbies?
I love to cook. If I’ve been away from home, I like to come back and make dinner for my family.
What successful travel leader would you like to be for a day?
It would be Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures. I admire the way he has grown the company and its values too. I would love to see the work they do with local communities first-hand and the process in which they go through to put new tours and experiences together.