Strictly Business: Emma Mackley Private Travel

I got into travel… after doing a degree in hospitality and tourism management. It included a years’ work placement where I spent the summer working at Ascot Racecourse and the winter running a ski chalet in Méribel. After I graduated, I knew I didn’t want to work the shifts that came with hospitality positions so I applied for reservations roles with luxury tour operators in Chester.

I got a job at ITC where I worked for about 10 years. I then worked for hotel sales and marketing company Le Petit Monde part-time for 18 months until both of my children were in school.

I started my business… in 2016. While making sales calls for Le Petit Monde, I got to know all of the luxury tour operators and met lots of independent agents and thought, ‘I could do that!’ Meeting in their lovely homes and hearing what a great living they were making, I was inspired to follow in their footsteps and put my travel knowledge, contacts and experience account managing the Chairman’s Club clients at ITC to use.

I’ve grown my business by… word of mouth. I told everyone who would listen about my new business – even fellow dog walkers, which is how I got my first booking. It was a last-minute honeymoon to the Maldives and the commission paid for my branding, website and stationery. I then put myself on social media, inviting all of my personal contacts to like and follow. Before long I had family and friends booking and my client base has grown organically.

The area of the business growing the most is… luxury tailor-made touring to destinations as diverse as Africa, Japan, Canada, India and Sri Lanka. More than ever people are looking for new experiences rather than just a fly-and-flop trip. Families have always made up a large portion of my business – knowing I travel as a family gives them the reassurance that I understand what they need to ensure everything runs smoothly.

The supplier I have the strongest relationship with is… Lusso. They are such a lovely team to work with. Nothing is too much trouble and I love their documentation as it compliments my own brand.

My proudest career achievement is… growing my business almost twofold year-on-year despite the pandemic and winning an industry award every year too.

My biggest industry bugbear is… When suppliers let you down, usually relating to transfers not being in the right place at the right time. It’s never a great start to a holiday, but clients understand it is out of our control so long as we can rectify the problem. I find some nice welcome treats in their room on arrival go a long way.

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