IN THE OFFICE
Jessica Pook speaks to Jenny Jackson, founder of Luxury Travel Gurus, about the challenges and rewards of being a homeworker in an ever-changing travel industry.
"I have been a homeworker for over 20 years and have built up a client list that relies on me to find them the perfect holiday at the best price.
"As a homeworker you get to know your clients' likes and dislikes. I often give them a call rather than an email because I feel that the personal touch is paramount.
"I am also a massive advocate of online training and attending events – I gain so much information from them.
"My market is luxury and I do feel luxury clients tend to be more loyal than 'bucket and spade' clients. That said, I have a recommendation for every taste and I have personally visited every hotel and destination on my website.
"I think travellers are starting to come back to travel agents because we do have a wealth of knowledge that the internet just cannot match.
"I will always go above and beyond to ensure my clients' holidays are absolutely perfect. I like to know how the holiday turned out, the highlights along with anything negative."
"It can be hard sometimes as so many of us are not salaried and rely on commission once a booking is made.
"We are currently seeing multi-level marketing organisations from the U.S. coming into our industry and taking on people with no experience, which is concerning. "Over the years we have worked hard to ensure we comply with all the strict guidelines imposed by our governing bodies, only to see MLM reps failing to conform.
"The internet has also proved a massive challenge over the last decade, especially when the final price quoted doesn't include all the elements of the holiday. Plus, some of the travel companies that relied on agents prior to the internet have gone direct sell, like British Airways Holidays and Virgin Holidays. In some cases they are selling holidays for less than our net rate."
"Over the years agents, and especially homeworkers, have been let down by tour operators who undercut their prices to an unattainable level for agents to compete with. Let's go back to the days where we see price parity across the board, so we all get a fair chance in this industry."
In my experience that personal touch is paramount