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