“We sell peo­ple their dreams”

Woman & Home - - INFLUENTIAL WOMEN -

FRANCES GEOGHE­GAN, 47, IS MAN­AG­ING DI­REC­TOR OF THREE TRAVEL COM­PA­NIES: AFRICA TRAVEL (AFRICATRAVEL. COM), CLEVE­LAND TRAVEL (CLEVE­LAND COL­LEC­TION.CO.UK) – WHICH DEALS WITH OTHER LONG-HAUL DES­TI­NA­TIONS – AND HEAL­ING HOL­I­DAYS (HEALINGHOLIDAYS.CO. UK), WHICH SPE­CIALISES IN SPA AND WELL­NESS RE­TREATS. SHE LIVES IN WEST LON­DON WITH HER HUS­BAND, CHRIS, WHO IS ALSO ONE OF HER BUSI­NESS PART­NERS.

I ENDED UP IN TRAVEL BY DE­FAULT. I READ HISTORY AND ENGLISH AT DUBLIN UNIVER­SITY AND GOT A SUM­MER JOB AT A TRAVEL AGENT. I LOVED IT – THE HAPPY AT­MOS­PHERE, THE JOY OF BE­ING ABLE TO SELL SOME­ONE THEIR DREAM. I WAS IN­STANTLY HOOKED. I’D TRAV­ELLED A BIT AS A CHILD, BUT ONLY AROUND IRE­LAND AND TO ENG­LAND AND FRANCE. I RE­MEM­BER GO­ING TO NEW YORK AT

19 FOR THE FIRST TIME, A CITY THAT NEVER DISAPPOINTS. I STILL RE­MEM­BER THAT BUZZ. AF­TER GRAD­U­AT­ING, I SOUGHT A JOB IN THE TRAVEL IN­DUS­TRY AND I AM NOW AT THE HELM OF THREE VERY DIF­FER­ENT – BUT EQUALLY RE­WARD­ING – TRAVEL COM­PA­NIES.

AFRICA WAS MY FIRST LOVE. AFRICA TRAVEL WAS THE COM­PANY THAT I FIRST JOINED AND I AM LUCKY TO HAVE VIS­ITED THIS MAG­NIF­I­CENT CON­TI­NENT MANY TIMES OVER THE YEARS. FOR SHEER VA­RI­ETY, THERE IS NOWHERE QUITE LIKE IT – FROM THE VAST PLAINS AND AN­I­MALS OF THE SERENGETI, TO THE DRA­MATIC VIC­TO­RIA FALLS AND THE MAJESTY OF CAPE TOWN. PEO­PLE ARE TAKING RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY FOR THEIR HEALTH. MODERN LIFE PRESENTS SO MANY CHAL­LENGES, WE ARE MORE STRESSED THAN EVER AND THE NHS IS AT BREAK­ING POINT. WE STARTED HEAL­ING HOL­I­DAYS 10 YEARS AGO – WE RE­ALISED THERE WAS A GAP IN

THE MAR­KET AS IN­CREAS­INGLY CLIENTS WERE ASK­ING ABOUT WELL­NESS. WE WANTED TO DO IT SE­RI­OUSLY SO WE MADE IT A STAND-ALONE COM­PANY WITH SPE­CIAL­IST STAFF. AND WE HAVE TO BE RE­SPON­SI­BLE ABOUT IT – WE’VE HAD PEO­PLE WITH ANOREXIA, WHO ARE RE­COV­ER­ING FROM CAN­CER, WHOSE MAR­RIAGE HAS ENDED; PEO­PLE WHO WANT FULL BODY MOTS AND SCREEN­INGS FOR CAN­CER. WHILE WE STILL GET THOSE WHO WANT A LOVELY, PAM­PER­ING BREAK, IT IS THE EX­CEP­TION

RATHER THAN THE RULE.

EX­PECT THE UN­EX­PECTED. WE TRY AND MAKE OUR CLIENTS’ TRAVEL EX­PE­RI­ENCE AS STRESS-FREE AS POS­SI­BLE – WE PRE-BOOK SEATS, CHECK THEM IN ON­LINE AND FOR­WARD ON THEIR BOARD­ING PASSES – BUT EVENTS BE­YOND OUR CON­TROL CAN SOME­TIMES THROW A SPAN­NER IN THE WORKS. AN AIR­LINE LOS­ING YOUR LUG­GAGE OR AN AIR TRAF­FIC CON­TROLLER STRIKE CAN WRECK THE START OF YOUR HOL­I­DAY, BUT TRY TO STAY CALM – AF­TER ALL, YOU ARE ON HOL­I­DAY. MY BIG­GEST TRAVEL NIGHT­MARE RE­SULTED IN ME BE­ING DE­LAYED FOR

30 HOURS AF­TER THE FLIGHT I WAS ON TO SIN­GA­PORE WAS DI­VERTED TO KIEV, AND AS IT WAS SNOW­ING AND MI­NUS 20, I DIDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT CLOTHES. I ENDED UP IN A HOS­PI­TAL IN BOR­NEO FOR FOUR DAYS WITH A CHEST IN­FEC­TION.

MY FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD IS BURMA. I’VE BEEN MANY TIMES AND IT HAS AN EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY IN­NO­CENCE ABOUT IT AS IT’S STILL EVOLV­ING FROM A DIF­FI­CULT PE­RIOD. IT HAS A FAS­CI­NAT­ING HISTORY, EN­GAG­ING PEO­PLE AND PHYS­I­CALLY IT IS PER­FEC­TION. I’M VIS­IT­ING AGAIN SOON AND GO­ING TO A GROUP OF IS­LANDS WITH UN­TOUCHED BEACHES THAT HAVE ONLY JUST BEEN DIS­COV­ERED – A REAL RAR­ITY IN THE TRAVEL WORLD.

NEXT ON MY DREAM LIST IS IRAN – I’VE MET A LOT OF IRA­NIAN PEO­PLE AND THEY ARE AL­WAYS SO WARM AND FRIENDLY, PLUS THE COUN­TRY HAS A TREMEN­DOUS HISTORY AND AMAZ­ING FOOD. IT’S UN­CHAR­TERED TER­RI­TORY FOR

ME – WHICH I LOVE.

SAY­ING THAT, I’M NOT AD­VERSE TO MORE HOME-GROWN BREAKS TOO. I LOVE THE COTSWOLDS, IN PAR­TIC­U­LAR THE LYGON ARMS IN BROAD­WAY, A WON­DER­FUL HO­TEL THAT IS HUN­DREDS OF YEARS OLD, AS WELL AS STOKE GABRIEL IN SOUTH DEVON, WHERE MY HUS­BAND IS FROM.

WHEN I’M NOT WORK­ING – OR TRAV­EL­LING

– I STILL LIKE BE­ING AC­TIVE. I LOVE CY­CLING AND PI­LATES. I’M ALSO OB­SESSED WITH GO­ING TO SEE MY COUN­TRY IRE­LAND PLAY – EI­THER FOOT­BALL OR RUGBY – ANY­WHERE IN THE WORLD. WIN OR LOSE, THE AT­MOS­PHERE AT AN IRE­LAND MATCH IS AL­WAYS THE BEST. >>

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