NAME: Angela Sharp
INSTAGRAM HANDLE: @thegirlthatlovestotravel
JOB TITLE: Travel Counsellor
MOVED TO THE UAE IN: 2007
Travel is in Angela's DNA - it is her passion & has been in her life for over 20 years! Making memories to last a lifetime for her customer is what drives her – whether it’s a short break, the annual family holiday or that dream trip of a lifetime, Angela help plan & build the perfect tailormade, personalised package for each client.
What does her day look like..
8AM: Get to my desk at my home office after school drop-off to work through enquiries, booking requests & customer queries that have come in overnight (or over the weekend if it’s a Monday morning, although travel is 24/7 so you really can’t switch off completely over a weekend!). I am dreadful with to-do lists & tend to have several spread across my desk to work on throughout the day so will try & streamline these into just one at the start of every day at least!
10AM: By now, I’ll generally be busy working through & preparing proposals for customer requests I’ve received – this could be anything from a staycation, to a family holiday over school break, to a special trip of a lifetime for a honeymoon, anniversary or even marriage proposal for example. The most bizarre requests can often cause much entertainment – but what is perfectly normal for one customer, can be the most strange request for the next! We never buy off the shelf so when I receive an enquiry that is a little more complex, it makes it all the more interesting to build the package with the customer - I love a challenge! Travel Counsellors unique proposition is that with us, everything is personal – we get to know our customers well before we start to plan their first trip so we can find that perfect match – this means our customers can come back to us time & again when they want to head off somewhere & we’ll have a good idea of what will work for them, they won’t have to explain their likes (& more importantly their dislikes) each & every time they go on holiday!
At least once a month, I will also join one of the many site inspections that are arranged for Travel Counsellors to see new hotels across the UAE to ensure we keep up to date with latest openings & products on offer – this is always fun as new openings often bring something new & quirky to see plus give us the opportunity to catch up with other Travel Counsellors (a novelty when you work from home, in an office alone!).
12NOON: School pick-up & lunch with my daughter – being a Travel Counsellor has allowed me to manage my own time & schedule to spend more time with my family – something I could never have dreamed of when I was working in the corporate world!
2PM: Part of the Travel Counsellors service is that we look after our customers from the moment they start to dream of a getaway to the moment they return home. Therefore, I’ll spend my afternoons reconfirming all upcoming departures, hotel reservations, transfers or car hire, pre-booking restaurants/spa treatments/excursions to give an all-round holiday experience, checking any special requests have been noted by the hotel resort such as birthday surprises/dietary requirements/specific room & villa requests (to name just a few!) & making sure all travel documents for my customer are uploaded & available on our fabulous travel e-wallet app, MyTC, for a smooth & hassle-free trip. I also take the time to help customers with the mountain of documents & paperwork that can now be required to travel to some destinations & check they have the right PCR tests booked within the right timeframe for where they are traveling (both for going & then coming back to Dubai)! I’ll even check them into their flights & print their boarding passes, as well as complete health declaration forms, passenger locator forms & any other forms that are required for entry to their holiday destination…….that’s if they want me to of course!
I also call my customers a day or two after they return from their holiday to hear all about their trip & receive valuable feedback. Travel Counsellors business is very much built on loyalty, return customers & referrals so the more we get to know our customers & what they did (and more importantly in my opinion, what they didn’t like!), the easier it is for them to trust us when planning their next trip.
4PM: The rest of the afternoon will be spent reconnecting with customers that perhaps haven’t travelled for a while to see what their next plans might be or need some inspiration or are just (very understandably) cautious about traveling right now – so many people here in the UAE started to use a Travel Counsellor during the pandemic as it got more & more complicated to navigate their way through the ever-changing minefield of regulations, restrictions and constantly changing information available across so many unofficial sources! My most loyal customers are the ones who have benefitted from the wealth of up-to-date information to which we have access & have needed someone to help & support them when they have been in a foreign country with no local knowledge – this may be someone who has tested positive & needs help to make alternative arrangements or change flights & hotel bookings to get home, or customers who simply can’t go anywhere as borders have shut across the world & need options for a way out – we are there for each & every one of them & have a full support team available 24/7 for them too at our HQ in the UK, if we can’t be contacted.
We don’t only help those in distress though – we also do nice stuff like arrange extensions of holidays for people who are having such a great time that they don’t want to come home!
Once a week I’ll try & spend some time planning marketing for my social media to inspire & attract new & existing customers too – I have been very lucky to travel to so many exciting places across the globe so much of this is taken from my own experiences as well as special offers that are available to us at Travel Counsellors through our vast network of suppliers.
6PM: Family/dinner time – the nightly battle of getting my daughter to bed!
8PM: Unless there’s an industry event to attend, my evenings vary between time spent at home simply watching TV or a movie & going out, as much as the current environment allows. I love food so will grab any opportunity to head out & try a new restaurant with my husband & friends.
10PM: With an energetic 4 year old & busy schedule, by now I am generally asleep on the sofa!