Over our lifespan, many of us will have 3-4 different careers.
It is kinda crazy to think about it. For me, it’s been a long journey to becoming a Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC). When I gained my certification in 2019, this was a proud moment for me because I was being acknowledged as competent, reliable, and capable upholding moral and ethical standards. All of this was important for me to show to my clients and future clients.
Although it was a long 12-year journey to get certified, all those experiences and short-lived sub careers in between made me a better travel agent. I developed logical learning systems, and they made knowing what to ask for second nature. I developed my intuition to better know what my clients need.
This is the story of my journey to being certified, and why working with a Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC) is good for you!
The start of the journey
During high-school I did a one-week work placement with a company that managed a ground handling contract for a domestic airline and operated a travel agency. That week I enjoyed performing tasks on both sides of the business and it really piqued my interest in working in the tourism sector.
It wasn't until I was on my first adult vacation in Southeast Asia (without Mum and Dad) that I realised that being a travel agent was what I wanted to do as a career. I had used a travel agent for this trip and she made everything so easy. I wanted to do that for other travellers! I could plan amazing vacations for people so they could have experiences like I was having in Vietnam.
Exploring careers within aviation
Upon my return, I contacted the company I did my work placement with and asked to become a Junior Travel agent, given my only skills were the ones they had given me, and those I experienced in my personal travels. Unfortunately, they had closed their travel agency.
In any case, they needed help with the airline contract they had and asked if I was interested. Yes! If I couldn't be a travel agent, perhaps working in aviation was a good alternative career. So, I went in for an interview and was hired.
I really enjoyed the job, and I met a lot of local people and got to know our regulars. I got to wear a cool uniform (I’m not one for spending hours picking out my wardrobe, so a uniform was perfect for me), and I got special access at the airport! I got to work with big planes (which to this day I can't tell you exactly how a plane flies because it’s too complicated) and I got to chat to people! It was fun.
I tried many jobs in the company. Sometimes our passengers saw me at check-in, boarding and then on the plane as I gave the pilot their paperwork. After six years in this job, it was time to expand my skillset and experience. I took an opportunity and moved from Australia to Canada.
Even in a different hemisphere I happened on a job in aviation. This time with helicopters. With my administration degree in my pocket, I was hired to organize maintenance records, provide administrative support, coordinate training sessions and records, and eventually become part of the management team for regulatory compliance.
While it was a great job and I worked with cool people throughout the industry, I couldn’t see myself working there in 40 years.
Beginning my career as a Travel Agent
I had been out networking and had struck up a conversation with a Travel Agent. She was fun and had been in the industry for 20 years. I talked to her about my passion for the industry. Later I asked her for a job and she offered me a position as her assistant, where I could learn on the job. (I still work with her and although we’re colleagues now, we share ideas. It's awesome!)
The travel industry is constantly changing and there are always ample opportunities to study and become an expert in a new destination or product offering. Taking the required training to be acknowledged as a professional in the industry was important to me as I felt it would enable me to provide superior service to my clients. Also make it more natural to form relationships with them and share in their adventures. I wanted to be assessed for my competency and knowledge. I wanted to demonstrate that I act in moral and ethical ways. To me, this is why someone hires a professional. It is what I expect of someone who calls themselves a professional.
So, I studied hard and in 2019 I earned my CTC designation from ACTA (Association of Canadian Travel Agencies). I saw this as an acknowledgement to myself and the world that I was taking this seriously. I was not just doing this as a hobby. I was going to make this my career, afterall, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since that first trip to Vietnam and a young adult.
I was stoked to receive the results that I’d passed my exam. It was a highlight in my career for sure! Sure, it had taken 15 years to get there, but hey, those experiences helped form who I am and what I understand about the tourism industry in general and how all the pieces fit together.
Today I can be confident that I am a professional in my industry. It is because I am certified, but also because of the wonderful feedback that I get from my valued clients. They remind me why I do this and why I want to do it well and take it seriously for them.
What CTC certification means for you
Working with a certified travel agent, you get the added peace of mind that they know their stuff. They have the experience and know the in’s and out’s of how to plan your perfect vacation and work with airlines, hotels, and other tourism operators. It’s someone you can trust to plan your vacation, deal with any issues or problems in your travel plans while you’re away, and give you the benefit of their travel experience and expertise.
I’d be happy to be your trusted travel advisor to research and book your next vacation. Get in touch if I can help.