NAME: Julie Croucher
YOUR BUSINESS / ORGANISATION: Travel With Jules
YOUR TITLE IN THAT BUSINESS: Owner / Director
WHEN DID THE BUSINESS LAUNCH?: 2011
ELEVATOR PITCH – TELL US WHAT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS DOES IN A NUTSHELL:
We are fully bonded, independent travel agents specialising in safaris, long-haul travel and special trips of a lifetime, the more unusual the better! I have a long background in Africa so always enjoy putting peoples dream safaris together.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BUSINESS’S USP OVER YOUR PEERS?
We really care about all of our clients and make sure we know as much as possible about them to create the perfect holiday every time. We also keep in touch with our suppliers to make sure everyone is looked after whilst travelling. Attention to detail and going the extra mile is part of our daily business – our testimonials speak for themselves!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BUSINESS CHALLENGE SO FAR?
The internet! Everyone thinks they can be a travel agent these days ….. people don’t realise the added value of our services until something goes wrong and we have to step in to either get them home in an emergency, re-book flights or hotels or obtain refunds for them. Other recent challenges have included changes in exchange rates and terrorist attacks and weather patterns affecting where people travel.
AND YOUR GREATEST SUCCESS?
Building our Smart Garden Office! I always aimed for ‘proper’ business premises by year five and we moved in with two weeks to spare!
WHAT DOES THE NEXT 12 MONTHS HAVE IN STORE FOR YOU?
We continue to strive to be the best, offering a unique concierge service to all clients no matter what the size of the booking, the website has just been refreshed and I hope we can expand our current database.
AND IN FIVE YEARS TIME YOU’D LIKE THE BUSINESS TO?
Hopefully employ more staff, specifically to look after the website and social media aspects of the business and hopefully double our turnover.
NATURALLY, YOU WANT TO REACH CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS AND THOSE WHO CAN HELP YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS SUCCEED. WHO MIGHT YOU WANT TO HEAR FROM?
The difficulty I have is that a lot of work which could potentially be outsourced requires people to have an in depth knowledge of both my business and the travel industry, to write website copy and promotional material, so anyone that ticks those boxes please get in touch!
WHEN YOU FEEL TROUBLED OR ‘BEATEN’ AT ANY STAGE IN BUSINESS LIFE, WHAT’S YOUR SECRET TO RALLYING YOURSELF?
To look back on the past and remind myself what I have achieved so far…. Also to think about the wonderful clients we have who have really appreciated our efforts to ensure their holiday dreams came true!
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR, OR HAVE YOU USED ONE? IF SO, HOW WAS THAT?
I don’t have one, no – maybe I should find one!
WHAT’S CHANGING ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY THAT MAKES IT SUCH A GOOD SPACE TO BE IN?
Unfortunately, there are lots of things in the travel industry that have got worse in recently years … tour operators and suppliers (hotels / airlines etc.) who used to work WITH travel agents often end up pulling us in opposite directions! Thankfully we have a handful of specialist tour operators who are fabulous to work with and one of them in particular often rewards us with gifts, days out or even trips overseas with them. I know that they understand my business and will help us give our clients the time of their lives on holiday! Plus in times of crisis (terrorism or weather problems) the industry does generally pull together.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WANTING TO ENTER YOUR INDUSTRY SPACE?
It’s a tricky one as I only got to where I am after over 20 years of experience, travelling the world and working with wildlife in the first instance that has got me where I am today. If I’m asked by students about jobs in the travel industry I usually advise them to get some hands on experience first – travel the world, work overseas and then think about working in the industry. And remember … it’s not as glamorous as you might think and no, we don’t get to travel for free!
THE PLUG BIT:
We would love to arrange any holidays for you, we have full ABTA and ATOL protection, we are members of AITO (Specialist agents) and ATTA and have a Theo Paphitis SBS award! Next time you are trawling the internet comparing hotels and airlines and trying to package things directly, remember that we will make sure your hotel booking or villa actually exists and if any flights are cancelled we will sort it out for you …. Often at the same price or better than you get do yourself! Take a look at our testimonials to see what our clients say about us ….
AND NOW THE SLIGHTLY LESS CORPORATE BIT…
BEST THING ABOUT EAST ANGLIA: The beautiful countryside, being close to the coast, amazing food produce, open skies and time to talk to people.
YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS: Crazy Chicken Lady!
UNFULFILLED AMBITION: To get to Madagascar & Borneo before all the wildlife disappears (sadly)
FANTASY DINNER PARTY GUESTS: Freddie Mercury, Miranda Hart, Basil Fawlty!
WHERE YOU LIVE, WHERE YOU’RE ORIGINALLY FROM (AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE), HOW OLD YOU ARE, WHO YOU LIVE WITH:
I live in Easton, rural Suffolk, originally from Hampshire (came to Suffolk in 2005 having been working in Africa for a long time and prior to that worked at Chester Zoo for 10 years!). I share my home with a princess cat (who has her own facebook page), multiple chickens (who all have names) and a family of Indian Runner Ducks!