The Tales and Travels of Taylor Made PA – A Travel Milestone
A Travel Milestone
Even I find it hard to believe but I have just celebrated my 30th Anniversary of joining the Travel Industry!
Before you say it, I know, I just don’t look old enough!
But sadly it is true and I am.
It was July 1991. I was just 17 years old. Fresh faced and tanned. I had just returned from a fortnight in Magaluf with the boyfriend (long gone now!). And in I walked to WH Smith Travel in Bletchley. I didn’t know then it was the start of a career that would last a lifetime.
No Experience Required
I had worked at WH Smith on the Stationery department since I was 15. I had got to know the Travel Staff through booking my own holiday with them. I was on my Leisure Management course with still dreams of working with Horses. But with one of the elements of the course being Travel, I had also been into branch for help and brochures.
On my first Saturday back in work after Magaluf, Katie, the Manager approached me. The Travel side was being sold and in-branch stores, which Bletchley was, were under threat of closure. This meant that they couldn’t take on new staff. But it also meant they were losing staff who were worried about their jobs.
This led to Katie remembering my bit of Travel from college and made me a proposal. Would I consider coming to work for them over the Summer Monday to Friday. Allowing me to carry on working Saturdays in the Stationery Store. Then if they stayed open and I liked it, I could stay. Otherwise I could go back to College as planned come September. The announcement on the Store was due the end August.
Learning on the Job
So I spent 6 weeks learning how to be a Travel Agent on the job! Katie and the team were amazing. They showed me how to use the system. How to write the window cards. Where to find information that I didn’t know. And there was a lot I didn’t know! They let me loose on the customers. Most of which were patient with me. I booked my first holiday for a customer. And I was having such a great time.
Then the news came in. The sale to AT Mays was complete. All in-store branches – which was the majority – were all due to close at the end of August.
It was heart-breaking for the staff. As much as I had loved my time. And I would have stayed. I at least had the option to go back to college for a year and finish my course.
Back to College
There was one winner in the demise of WH Smith Travel. Milton Keynes College.
They were launching a new dedicated Travel and Tourism course. And as part of that there was a mock Travel Shop being built in the college. I made a call to the new Travel Lecturer and explained who I was and the situation. He arrived and basically relieved the store of all the Brochures, Décor, Travel Guides and anything else that was due to be dumped.
He also suggested on hearing what I had been doing that summer, that the college tailor my course, allowing me to pick up extra travel elements and drop some of the leisure elements that wasn’t going to be as useful. So that is what I did. There was no point is joining the travel course. I would have to re do my first year and there was so much cross over it was pointless.
Just before we closed the store for the last time good news came in for Katie. She was taking over the local Lunn Poly as Manager as soon as we closed.
And 3 months later I joined Katie on a few weeks Work Experience from college. Randomly it always sticks clearly in my mind as it was whilst I was there that the news came in that Freddie Mercury had died.
Sadly there was no vacancy when I was due to finish up from college. And on “graduating” in June 1992 I went to my first full time job in travel working for Milton Keynes Co-op Travel. I actually spent the next 10 years working for various Co-op Travels before leaving retail to work in Business Development in 2002. Before re-joining retail in 2019 as an Independent Consultant for Premier Travel.
Taylor Made Travel Booking Services with Premier Travel can help with both UK and overseas bookings.
And Premier Holidays are the specialist for holidays to the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Man.
Email me your plans and let me help make them a reality.
Until next time!