I can remember the exact moment I realized that I needed to work in the travel industry – lying on a beach in Kenya thinking ‘how can I make this part of my career?’. I used to work in the property industry working as a lettings agent for an upmarket estate agents in central London. The job was challenging and incredibly rewarding but after five years I resolved that it wasn’t my passion in life – I was spending all my time working out how to spend my annual leave and plotting the next big trip.
A conservation internship in Kenya
Something had to change so I moved to Kenya to start a conservation internship. This ended up with me spending the next six months backpacking and working through eastern and southern Africa. It was genuinely a time when my morning’s work involved snorkeling over pristine coral reef in the Indian Ocean, teaching three year-olds in Cape Town’s townships nursery rhymes, or getting lost driving through the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa.
Back in the UK and determined to work in travel, I soon found that my background in sales would serve me well. I interviewed for Audley and some other companies but quickly worked out that Audley’s comprehensive training scheme was exactly what I was looking for as a ‘newbie’ to the industry. I was quickly able to match my background in sales with my knowledge of South Africa and haven’t looked back since.
What my role involves
The Country Specialist role is a challenging one and not without its pressures – you’re always busy either planning and confirming itineraries, keeping yourself updated on new product relevant to your region or simply talking to clients and finding out what makes them tick. That said, it’s so much more fun than anything I’ve done before and confirming arrangements for someone’s dream trip before hearing all about it upon their return is a real joy.
Obviously, a huge perk of working at Audley compared to other companies are the research trips you go on when you start and which continue throughout your career. This is a chance to really get to know your particular region and to explore it ‘the Audley Way’ – so no more hostels. Instead, think expert guides and beautiful properties lying off the beaten track. No matter how well you think you know your country you’ll be sure to get back to the office with a new-found passion for it above and beyond what you already had. On these trips I’ve been lucky enough to cruise down the Zambezi, watching elephant at the water’s edge; take a microlight flight over the Victoria Falls; and even see an incredibly rare ground pangolin in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve.
A sociable office
Back in the office, everyone works hard but the difference from other jobs I’ve had is how we’re all genuinely friends and enjoy time out together. There are several parties each year, as well as other perks such as sports and social clubs and free fruit and smoothies. It’s a very sociable environment and incredibly welcoming as well. Coming from a very corporate background, it’s these things, plus a highly approachable management team, that make every day enjoyable.
We’re currently looking for Africa specialists. To begin your career in travel, browse the latest vacancies on our careers website.