Diary of Travel Franchisees

Diary of Travel Franchisees

Here, discover the journeys of 3 franchisees as they fulfil their lifelong passion for travel by joining The Holiday Franchise Company.

Lisa Hamilton, Zephyr Travel Ltd

“Having run a successful shoe-importing business for the past 20 years, I felt ready for a new challenge. Whilst I have enjoyed running the business and it has given my family a comfortable standard of living, the past few years have been tough due to changing conditions on the high street and the joy went out of it.

I started to dream of a new career, preferably one which I would not only find enjoyable, but would hopefully also sustain our current standard of living whilst giving me the freedom to work around school hours. I’m not afraid of hard work, but it’s important to me to have the flexibility to attend school plays, sports day etc. and fortunately my last business afforded me that privilege. Having worked for myself for so long, I couldn’t imagine working in an office Monday to Friday, 9-5.

I have often wished that I went into the travel industry when I was younger as travel is the thing about which I am most passionate. However, now in my late forties, and with our current financial commitments, I wasn’t sure this would be a possibility as going to work for someone else in a travel agency full-time would have been challenging both financially and in terms of fitting it in around my family.

Not deterred, I started to research online to see whether there was any way that I could be involved in the travel industry whilst working from home. I discovered that there are opportunities to run a travel business from home as a franchisee. Knowing that the right franchise can be an excellent way to start a new business, I set out to learn more.

Having researched several companies thoroughly, two stood out to me so I had conversations with them both, The Holiday Franchise company being one of them. I immediately felt good about them with their friendly, open approach. It felt like they were answering my questions honestly and there was no pressure to sign up and no promises of great fortunes to be made overnight. I did some more research before going to visit them for a chat. I left their offices feeling that this could genuinely be something which I could do, which was very exciting, (if slightly nerve-wracking).

After a business planning meeting to see whether we both felt that it was a viable partnership, I felt very confident that this was the path I wanted to take. So, I decided to take the plunge by changing career and am currently in the final planning stages of building my business and will be ready to launch Zephyr Travel in early Spring 2020.

The training and support I have received from The Holiday Franchise company so far has been excellent. They have been very helpful and flexible fitting one-to-one training around me whilst I wind down my current business. I feel very confident that their ongoing support combined with my enthusiasm for travel will enable my new business to thrive.

I am extremely keen to get started in my new venture, where my primary focus will be luxury, tailor-made holidays. The adventure starts soon…”

Sarah Edston Johnston – Edston Luxury Holidays

“For 22 years I have worked in social care. I started work as a carer supporting elderly people in their own homes and with children with special needs. I later qualified as a social worker and for 16 years I have specialised in child protection. During this time, I have worked as a front-line social worker and team manager as well as helping local authorities with service transformations and preparation for Ofsted. More recently I have worked as an independent social worker and expert witness for family related matters in Court.

It was through my work as a social worker that I had my first opportunity to travel long haul. I was supporting an 8-year-old child who had been sent by his mother in St Lucia to live with his father in the UK for a better standard of life. However, the father was physically abusing the child. The decision was made to return the child to his mother in St Lucia and I had the opportunity to support him by taking him home. I spent a week in St Lucia spending time with the child and his family, ensuring the child settled back into St Lucian life. It was a wonderful experience seeing first hand how a family lives in St Lucia and through talking to the child’s mother, I learnt so much about the island from a local perspective.

Exploring St Lucia and learning about its culture and the people who live there has sparked my passion for exploring the world, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures. I have since visited more than 30 countries around the world and plan to visit many more places in the near future.

In the past 5 years I have got married and had 2 children. Having a young family has encouraged me to re-evaluate my career. I wanted a career that reflected my interests and give me the opportunity to work from home so I could be available for my children when they need me. To make such a career change, I had to be certain this is something I wanted to do and have the support of my family and friends.

For over a year, I researched different careers in the travel industry and through this I concluded that I wanted to buy a travel franchise, as it meant I could own my own company, take the business in a direction that reflected my interests and have the support of a business infrastructure that is proven to work. I spent about a year talking to different travel franchises and weighing up my options. Eventually I chose to buy a franchise with a company that I made my initial enquiries with, the Holiday Franchise Company.

Since buying the franchise I have developed my own brand called Edston Luxury Holidays and this is due to launch soon. I specialise in worldwide luxury holidays and tailor-made itineraries. I can share my own experiences of travelling around the world with customers, giving them inspiration for their next holiday and helping them to book a holiday of a lifetime. I hope to develop the business over the next 5 years where I will be in a position to employ a few people to work for my company selling holidays. Eventually, I would like to create a stable business which I can pass to my children, should they wish to continue with it.

My dreams of owning a travel company are now becoming a reality. My career change is the best thing to have happened to me and my family. I am so excited about Edston Luxury Holidays and the future that it holds.”

Siân Partridge – Make Holiday Memories

“Life is about making memories – precious moments to treasure with family and friends. Some of my most amazing memories have been made whilst travelling and this is a passion I love to share but it’s been a long road to get this desire fulfilled.

I had a good career in marketing. It wasn’t my dream but I enjoyed it. I took a break to raise my two boys but then needed something to help with the bills. I found a role working part-time as a complaints manager for a health and wellbeing company but this was far from good for my wellbeing. It was a very negative job and I knew I had to make a change.

My granddad had worked for Thomas Cook in the Oxford St. branch in the 50s and 60s. He brought home a Disneyland California brochure which sparked the family’s interest but he was never lucky enough to make the trip. As a young girl I played travel agents with my sister, pretending to book dream holidays! Sadly, my dad passed away when I was 11, prompting my mum to seize the day and take my sister and me to Walt Disney World, Florida.

WOW! What a trip. So much to see and do and unlike anything we had experienced before. The castle at the end of Main Street took our breath away; the smell of popcorn and hotdogs and the pure excitement and happiness is a memory I will never forget.

It was from this moment that my passion for planning was ignited. I collected all the park maps and timetables, working out exactly what we needed to see and do during our stay. I had a fear of missing out on something so magical, I had to make sure we saw it all. After many more wonderful trips as a child, I was finally lucky enough to go back as a mother with my own family and my love was rekindled as we started making our own holiday memories.

When my friends and family heard about what I’d packed into my time away, they asked me to help them get the same from their Disney holidays. Before I knew it, I was helping people I didn’t even know find their own love of Disney. I started to dream about doing this as a job.

Here comes the “but”. I’d just turned 40, had no travel agent experience or training and all the companies I wrote to wouldn’t give me the time of day. I just knew I could do this but couldn’t find a way in.

It was then that I stumbled across franchising I could instantly see the advantages. I could control my own business to fit around my family life. I’d get the training I needed and I’d have the support of a proven business model and people on the end of the phone to guide me.

I spent some time researching and speaking to a few different companies all with different approaches but it was The Holiday Franchise Company that was a clear winner for me. They took time to find out about me and gave me time to consider the huge commitment I was about to leap into, patiently answering the barrage of questions I threw at them.

Before long I found myself at their Birmingham headquarters on one of the many training days they provided to fit my schedule. I now had my own home-based company with access to the franchise’s booking systems, infrastructure, suppliers and experience. Their designer worked with me to create my perfect brand image and they hosted my website with a template that allowed me to easily create content. Make Holiday Memories was born!

Looking back, I have no idea how I could have attempted this on my own. The support I get from the franchise in my frequent phone calls and emails as I still find my feet is exceptional and I have been able to smash my initial targets.

I’m currently helping my growing list of clients make memories of their own on holidays all over the world and I couldn’t be happier.”

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