Owner/man­ager of italk­travel New­cas­tle West, The Junc­tion, Mait­land & Ruther­ford

Travel Bulletin - - COVER -

A SELF-CON­FESSED peo­ple per­son, ask Ju­lia van Huis­st­ede about her ca­reer and she will rat­tle off the names of those who taught her the ropes.

When she started out in travel 17 years ago, things were a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Ju­lia spent her first six months vol­un­teer­ing at Har­vey World Travel Cas­tle Hill on week­ends as “the ju­nior with no seat”, writ­ing bus and do­mes­tic tick­ets, sort­ing faxes, putting brochures away and typ­ing con­fir­ma­tion let­ters for other staff.

Her hard work paid off, and she spent seven years at the agency, dur­ing which she was a mul­ti­ple Qan­tas Hol­i­days Achiever, a top in­sight Va­ca­tions seller and won nu­mer­ous gold, sil­ver and bronze HWT Sales awards.

She then spent time with Trav­elex and Jet­set Trav­el­world, and in 2008 made the move to New­cas­tle to join her then-fi­ancé in his busi­ness, Hunter World Travel and soon opened the HWT Ruther­ford store.

To­gether with Mark (Ju­lia’s now hus­band) and Karen (sis­ter-in-law), the trio op­er­ate four re­tail out­lets, now trad­ing as italk­travel.

“Hang in there” is Ju­lia’s ad­vice for other young guns. “This is such a re­ward­ing ca­reer but you need to slog it out for a few years and get a re­peat client base if you’re in re­tail travel and the only way to do that is to stay com­mit­ted. If you’re in whole­sale, learn from the more ex­pe­ri­enced re­tail agents and your su­pe­ri­ors - they can, and will teach you a lot.

“Take on all the ad­vice you can get, go on all the famils you get of­fered and at­tend all the train­ing and sup­plier nights as you can never learn enough in this in­dus­try – the net­work­ing is great, the food and bub­bles on of­fer are an awe­some in­cen­tive and you some­times get the chance to win a hol­i­day!”

Ju­lia has seen a lot of change in the in­dus­try and is cer­tain things will con­tinue to evolve. “When I started there was no in­ter­net, we hand-wrote tick­ets...and ev­ery morn­ing I picked up a pile of pa­per off the floor as the fax had worked over­time dur­ing the night to print out all the early bird spe­cials!”

In Ju­lia’s eyes, the ex­plo­sion of the in­ter­net has opened up the world.

“I haven’t re­ally known a long ca­reer with­out the in­ter­net and to me, it’s an amaz­ing tool,” Ju­lia tells trav­el­bul­letin.

“There is more com­pe­ti­tion and we are now work­ing with bet­ter sys­tems, state-of-the-art plat­forms and all of this is a pos­i­tive.”

De­spite its chal­lenges, Ju­lia is con­fi­dent travel re­tail­ing will con­tinue from strength to strength. “Peo­ple still come back to their lo­cal agency at some point,” she says.

“The in­ter­net was the big­gest game changer, I am not sure what will top that but I know with tech­nol­ogy it will con­tinue to get bet­ter, eas­ier and quicker in all as­pects.” The most chal­leng­ing as­pects of her role in­clude deal­ing with things out of her con­trol, such as world is­sues, the lo­gis­tics of staffing and try­ing to know more than what clients learn off the in­ter­net - but she says harder (and more re­ward­ing) by far is jug­gling work with moth­er­hood.

Most mem­o­rable mo­ment: work­ing with Trav­elex when I was called in to at­tend the HWT Con­fer­ence on the Gold Coast in De­cem­ber 2006, where I met my hus­band – I thank Kristie Ray­mond for be­ing sick that day!

Favourite part of the job: Deal­ing with peo­ple, with my staff, my clients, our sup­pli­ers, our amaz­ing fran­chise teams, the com­mu­nity and ev­ery­one else in be­tween.

First thing you do when you get into work: Have a cof­fee! I also spend a mo­ment to talk to the girls in the of­fice.

This is such a re­ward­ing ca­reer but you need to slog it out for a few years and get a re­peat client base if re­tail...’ you’re in

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