Case study

Travel consultant — Sophie Pullan

From searching out that little restaurant to discovering a hidden away hotel, Sophie loves making her clients' holidays special...

How did you get your job?

I graduated from Oxford Brookes University having studied theology and religion with sociology. Along with searching online and signing up to recruitment agencies, I applied for work experience at several companies. I was lucky that each internship or work experience led to another couple of months at a different company, before ending up at The Ultimate Travel Company where I was originally asked to join for two weeks to rewrite their reading lists.

I was fortunate enough to be there whilst they were interviewing for a position in the Escorted Journeys team.

Being able to travel with your job is a massive bonus for me

How relevant is your degree to your job?

In the Escorted Journeys team our tours can focus on several themes related to a destination including culture, history, religion and local traditions.

My degree has loosely helped me in understanding and focusing on these.

What are your main work activities?

Every day is different. I am constantly learning new things from the daily routine of liaising with clients, tour leaders and agents, to arranging additional extensions for clients and smoothing out logistics.

Researching new destinations and planning for future tours, that is the fun bit.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

At the beginning of my time at The Ultimate Travel Company I was given more of an admin role, processing booking forms and sending out pre-tour and final documentation to all the clients.

As my role developed, I was given more responsibility along with my own tours, planning them from the beginning and seeing them through to the end.

With regards to my long-term career plans, I would love to stay within the travel industry.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love learning about different countries and cities, plus getting to know the ins-and-outs of a specific place, from a little restaurant to a hidden away hotel.

Being given the responsibility of planning and organising people's holidays was a bit daunting to begin with, but hearing the positive feedback upon their return is very rewarding and makes it all worthwhile.

Being able to travel with your job is a massive bonus for me - visiting places, especially ones you've never been to, and experiencing them at their very best is incredibly exciting and rewarding. I love it.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I'm the kind of person who doesn't like confrontation so I do find it tough as times if I have to speak to a tricky client or sort out an issue. On the whole, though, this is quite rare.

It can be quite stressful if something goes wrong whilst the clients are on a tour, which is out of your control and you have to quickly think on your feet and try and find a solution.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Don't give up and be prepared to enter the company through a role such as PA or office manager before working your way to being a consultant. Having a bit of travel experience or speaking a language helps too.