Here’s a brief run-down of what I’ve been up to in 2017. I’ve had a brilliant year in my first year as a Travel Counsellor getting to know some lovely new customers and I’ve had amazing opportunities to myself too – visiting 10 new countries - the most in one year since my back-packing days!
I was excited to start my Travel Counsellors journey with intensive induction training and loved learning about the amazing technology about to be at my fingertips to enable me to create tailormade itineraries for my clients.
I’ll never forget my launch day on 3rd Feb – it was exciting and scary as I never thought I’d see the day where I was running my own business and being my own boss!
I joined my friends on a little mini-break to Chester for a well overdue catch up, which was lots of fun and I was proud to have been able to have booked everything for us - just a small booking but significant as it was the very first one which I did on my launch day!
I also had my best-ever booking month of the year in March, including a large tailormade group booking for a group of teachers visiting a school and going on safari in Kenya.
In May I attended the CLIA Cruise Conference in Southampton. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to experience a taste of life on the stunning Cunard Queen Mary II and Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.
We took our family holiday to Cape Verde, 2 hours flight further south than the Canary Islands and a constant temperature of 25 degrees+ all year round. Recommended by us for a relaxing ‘fly & flop’ holiday any time of year. The beaches are incredibly beautiful and unspoilt, and Cape Verde is often quoted as “the Caribbean of Africa”. The kids loved their first experience of all-inclusive with some very random food combinations being brought back from the buffet!
At the end of the month I took my 10-year-old to Berlin as a birthday present as she’s had an obsession with Germany ever since she did a project in school a couple of years earlier. With a mum as a Travel Counsellor it was an obvious birthday gift! We had an amazing time and packed everything in – ticking off everything on her “to do” list and more in the short time we were there.
This month I visited some lovely cruise ships whilst docked in Liverpool – Holland & America Ms Zuiderdam, Celebrity Eclipse and Crystal Symphony. I got to take my mum with me on the Crystal Symphony and I think she’s now saving up for her first cruise!
Karl and I also went on our first ever river cruise, spending a week in luxury with AMA Waterways travelling on the lower River Danube starting in beautiful Budapest and visiting Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria on our way to Romania and its capital Bucharest.
I could not let August pass without mentioning that I got to meet my teenage idols Matt and Luke Goss before the Bros reunion concert at the O2 – it was such a special weekend away with my friend and fellow “Brosette” Marie! At the end of August, Team Mackey packed the car to the rafters and set off for our annual trip to our favourite music festival, Solfest, in Cumbria, for a long weekend of no Wi-Fi, letting our hair down, dressing as we please, late night dancing and enjoying great music. It's without doubt our favourite weekend of the year!
In September I was invited to join a Travel Counsellors trip to Amsterdam. We toured the city and enjoyed a fabulous fine dining evening cruise along the canals, and a tour of Holland America’s ship Ms Zuiderdam.
I was cruising again this month on a mini-cruise with Fred. Olsen on Boudicca, where I flew out to Spain and joined the ship mid cruise. We called at Santander, Bilbao (the Guggenheim Museum being a major highlight) and back to Liverpool.
In October I attended the ATAS conference in Birmingham. ATAS is the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers, which promotes this sector of the travel industry. Alongside cruising, river cruising is a rapidly expanding area in the travel market. It was great to network with so many of my favourite suppliers there.
I was also lucky to be invited to visit Agadir courtesy of the Moroccan Tourist Board, visiting lots of different types of hotels in the area - suitable for both luxury and value for money beach holidays - and great weather all year round. I loved bargaining in the souk and coming back with a new pair of new (very cheap) Adidas Superstars!
With the collapse of Monarch in October I knew I had made the right decision to join Travel Counsellors. Thankfully I didn’t have any customers affected, but for those that did our support team at Head Office worked through the night to ensure that everyone who was, was sorted and re-booked before they even woke up to the news that day. This is why Travel Counsellors consistently wins industry awards for customer service and has one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings, not just in the travel industry, but across all companies in the UK.
November is when Travel Counsellors hold their annual conference in Manchester – packed full of learning and motivational speakers including the icing on the cake, Joanna Lumley! We had entertainment in the evenings from Vernon Kay, Rick Astley and Olly Murs. The best part of the conference though was getting to spend time with other Travel Counsellors, as working from home we don’t often get together face to face and let our hair down!
At the end of November, I was back in Amsterdam for the CLIA River Cruise Conference, networking with suppliers and visiting Amadeus Silver III, Riviera Travel Emily Bronte, Scenic Jasper and spending a fabulous night aboard CrosiEurope Symphonie. The conference was followed by a trip on A-Rosa’s river cruise ship Flora, one of the few river cruise companies that encourages families to come on board. We spent 4 nights on the Rhine visiting Antwerp, Duisberg and ending in Cologne.
My last trip of the year was a trip to Mexico with AM Resorts, experiencing the “unlimited luxury” in their resorts, including Secrets The Vine, Breathless Riviera Cancun, Secrets Maroma Beach, Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun, Dreams Puerto Aventuras, Dreams Sands Cancun, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Dreams Playa Mujeres, Secrets Playa Mujeres. On this trip I had a chance to swim with dolphins which was a major highlight, as well as a crazy pirate boat night in Cancun, tequila tasting and going to the Rock of Ages musical!