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The Homeworker: 'Change is good - don't swim against it', Travel Trade Gazette

I was delighted to be asked to write a piece for the Travel Trade Gazette, who will be running a monthly homeworker column, written by homeworkers, for homeworkers. Super chuffed to be the author of the first column!


 

When TTG invited me to kick-start a new feature taking readers deeper into the world of homeworking and to share some of the highs and lows that come with the territory, I hadn’t envisaged my first offering coinciding with a sudden and seismic development in my career – let me explain.


I like to celebrate the passing of peaks by topping up my mandatory travel agent tan with a week in the mountains of Lanzarote after the British winter. As a business owner, while there is rarely a totally care-free escape, I have the support of a great team and am usually able to wind down, somewhat.


Having decompressed for 24 hours, I decided to scan my emails for anything urgent. There was just the one – a request from the Holidaysplease directors for a Zoom. Sooner rather than later. Nothing sinister, but it sounded troubling. So I suppose there are worse places to receive the unexpected bombshell that the company you have worked with for the past 11 years has been bought up by a rival.


It’s a strange relationship we have with our leaders, isn’t it? I’m self-employed, but not self-sufficient. I’m inspired and taught by my mentors, I support and share my knowledge with my fellow agents, I get drunk with both – and then we go and survive a global pandemic together.


The rollercoaster of emotions triggered by a perceived infidelity is inevitable, no matter by whom. A sense of abandonment did occur fleetingly when I found out that Travel Counsellors would be acquiring Holidaysplease, but I knew the sentiment behind the sale was real – and that’s when the tears kicked in.


While trying to conceal my evident distraction from my husband, I was lifted by an influx of messages from industry colleagues far and wide including warm welcomes from Travel Counsellors offering support. That’s VERY Holidaysplease.


Laying my cards on the table, I had flirted with the idea of moving a few years back, but two things had stopped me – loyalty, and fear. Far from unworthy deterrents. My loyalty remains with my founders, but would now be misplaced. After all, an undisclosed sum – while well-deserved – is probably fairly hefty.


That just leaves fear to contend with. Post-pandemic, I think we all know travel agents are made of tough stuff. Mid-holiday, an unsettling sense of FOMO – fear of missing out – kicked in. I reached out to Travel Counsellors chief executive Steve Byrne, who kindly set up a call which helped allay initial concerns. I spent the afternoon engaging in some challenging conversations with fellow HP agents (with a few poolside wines).


The broad proposition is simple to understand. These are two great companies, with some different qualities and a shared goal. It is business as usual while everyone learns more about, and from, each other before we decide what is best for our own businesses.


Utopia, for me, looks like an inclusive blend of both business models, and I truly believe there is room for both to exist in harmony, offering a broad scope of feasible, scalable options to the many passionate members of the homeworker community.


Back at my desk a short week later, I can’t say it was the most relaxing of breaks, and I owe my ever-supportive partner (and myself) another one soon, but I guess this one was exceptional and somewhat out of my control. And after 24 hours’ of self-indulgent moping, I managed to rediscover my ability to travel agent with my usual gusto.


Change is good. Think of it like a river, don’t waste your energy swimming against it. Let it carry you and eventually you will be in calmer waters and will know what the next steps are. Exciting times ahead.


 

Jo Shayler-Tarrant of Jo Shayler Holidays is an independent travel agent at Holidaysplease. She was named Home-Based Agent of the Year at the 2021 Travel Industry Awards by TTG, and went on to be crowned UK and Ireland Travel Agent of the Year. She lives by the sea in Frinton on the north Essex coast.


 

THE HOMEWORKER FROM TTG


The Homeworker is a new monthly feature from TTG taking you deeper into the world of homeworking. Columns are written by homeworkers for homeworkers and the wider travel sector, providing insight, support, reassurance – and inspiration.


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