Snowboarding and squid guts - Life as a professional traveller
Snowboarding and squid guts - Life as a professional traveller
Lindsay Doctor is a professional traveller.
She has a lifetime of travel behind her – and now she lives her dream working as a travel agent.
When you work in the travel industry, travelling comes with the job. There's a lot of holidays you need to take to make sure you know what you're talking about. In fact, someone in Lindsay's store is in charge of Compulsory Fun – ensuring everyone at work is having enough fun and taking enough trips.
But there's hard work to be done too, and as Team Leader of the Randwick My Adventure Travel, Lindsay has the 'work-hard-play-hard' attitude that her job requires.
Lindsay, what were you doing before you worked in travel?
I was working intermittently at a wholesaler, in between travelling. I've always travelled, my parents are big travellers. When I was growing up, we went to Borneo and Europe and a lot of trips back to the UK.
When I finished high school I went to Canada. Then I worked to get more money to go travelling again. I did a big trip over about four months to Scandinavia, UK, a Serbian music festival, Egypt and Vietnam.
And then back to the wholesaler. But that work wasn't very interesting, so I applied for a job with My Adventure Travel and I've been here ever since! And I don't think I'm going anywhere either!
How long have you been with My Adventure Travel?
I've been here for four years. I started out in our Paddington Store in Sydney. I was there for nearly three years and then I moved across to the Randwick store and opened it up – which is where I am now. It was a brand new store, two levels. There's a store front downstairs and an online and phone-based agency upstairs. It's a store that's really buzzing.
Have you had much opportunity to travel while you've been with My Adventure Travel?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. In terms of free trips I was pretty spoilt with one that I got which was Seoul, in Korea, and Kenya. It was sponsored by Korean Airlines so it was business class the entire way, which was great. We did a nine-day safari in Kenya, all in 4- and 5-star lodges. It was really nice at the end of the day, there were zebras wandering through our lodges. So much wildlife.
You said that was a free trip? How does that work?
This particular trip was an incentive bonus for rewarding the top sellers.
So, when you work in travel, what sort of travel perks do you get?
At My Adventure Travel we get an extra week of annual leave a year which is specifically for education. It's called educational leave – ensuring we are educated on what we are selling, travel! For example, I went to the Northern Territory and I didn't have to take any personal annual leave. I was able to do that in May and not eat into my personal holiday time – so I was then also able to go to Japan later in the year!
The flight perks are also great. Anyone who is new is given an incentive to win money towards a flight fund. If they do well in their first six months, a little extra is given to them to put towards flights for a new trip. It’s a great motivational tool!
Also, in my store, and I know in the Paddington Store where I used to be, we have Compulsory Fun.
What's Compulsory Fun?!
We have someone in our store who is in charge of Compulsory Fun. That's like organising monthly drinks with the store, or doing something fun in a meetingfor example. It also means making sure people take time off. Looking at the roster and saying, “Ok, this person has time off in this month, you need to take time off next- you need to book a holiday.”
So, does all this travel help you to do your job better?
So much! There's a rule that as soon as you get back from a holiday, you'll make three bookings for that destination. You're on such a high from the trip, you want everyone to go there, you want everyone to experience what you experienced. People can see that and get inspired.
India was such a huge trip for me when I went – now I have a real connection to it. I can tell people “You need to do this while you're in this city, it was amazing” which makes such a difference. You want to share that with your clients. Then they come back and say “Your recommendation was awesome, and then I did this as well, which was great.” It's that first-hand knowledge that makes a real difference in your job.
Has working in travel opened your eyes to any destinations that you might not have known about? Any travel secrets?
Well, a couple of things come to mind...
When I went to India, I went to Holi festival, which is the festival of paint, colour and love. I didn't even know it existed until I started working here! I went over with some girlfriends. It was incredible. Afterwards we had some time to fill in and we decided to do a tour of the south of India with Intrepid to areas that I had never even heard of.
Another trip was Japan. I was chatting to one of our wholesalers and the girl there was such an expert that she pretty much planned my entire trip for me. I had been selling a lot of Japan trips recently, so I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. I wanted to see the temples in Kyoto, I wanted to stay in a little traditional Ryokan that someone once told me about in Nagano that was near the snow monkeys. I feel like if I wasn't in the industry, I wouldn't know to do those things!
What else did you do in Japan?
My trip was partly snowboarding, partly sightseeing. I was blown out of the water with how good the snow is. In our first stop we had four days, and it snowed constantly for three days. I didn't know what to do with myself. I said to my partner “I don't know how to snowboard anymore because this snow is so different.” It was so good. And everything is super efficient, safe and there's hardly any queues. It's a lot cheaper than snowfields in Australia as well.
Japan has great food too. I travel for food. It was incredible. I tried some pretty disgusting things as well!
Digusting things like...?
One time, a friend sent us to a restaurant and we had squid guts. It was so bad. We were pretty deep into the sake also by then and it didn't sit well at all. It seemed like a good idea at the time... it wasn't too good later that night though!
And the best food?
The sashimi is so fresh. We had lots of wagyu steak which was really delicious. My entire Instagram is full of Japanese food...and whiskey and sake.
We tried horse! We were there over New Years. New Years Day is the big celebration and we went to this temple that everyone goes to and there were heaps of market stalls. We went to one that was selling yakitori skewers that smelt so good. We lined up for ages to get one and we were sitting eating it. And I said, “this beef is a bit funny.” My partner said “It's not beef. I don't want to tell you what it is.” But it was amazing!
And, finally, what advice would you give someone who was thinking about their career and the possibility of becoming a travel agent with My Adventure Travel?
I think you need to be the kind of person who is willing to work hard and celebrate hard. Work well and celebrate your wins. It can be really tough work, you get busy, things happen around the world and that affects what you're doing and it's completely out of your control.
But I can't tell you how rewarding it is to set yourself a target, work towards it all month and then the feeling when you do get there. And be able to celebrate at the end by booking yourself a trip! Which is definitely how I like to celebrate.
It's the Flight Centre culture - work hard, party hard. Which you've got to be ready for.