The pain-free guide to becoming a personal travel manager

The pain-free guide to becoming a personal travel manager

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Over the past eighteen-plus years, the team at our National Partnership Office (NPO) has guided and supported hundreds of experienced travel agents on their individual change journeys. We asked Joanne Miller, who is based in Greystanes, NSW, how this support has helped her to comfortably navigate the change to running her own business as a personal travel manager.


What prompted you to change?

I joined TravelManagers in July of 2021 after 27 years as a retail-based travel agent. I was very happy there, but when COVID forced the store’s closure, I had to consider my next steps. I love what I do and really didn’t want to get out of travel, so I looked around at what was on offer. With the needs of a young family to consider, the home-based model was most appealing, but it was important for me to align myself with a brand I could trust, and which matched my values and needs. After looking at the different options, I chose to join TravelManagers.

What were your key concerns about the change, and how did TravelManagers address these?

Trust and security were essential not just for myself but for my customers, who would also be impacted by my change of direction. Over many years I had a built up a fantastic base of long-term clients, and I really needed to feel good about saying to them, “this is my decision, this is why I’ve made the change, and this is why I have chosen TravelManagers.”

For me, the key aspects were TravelManagers’ long-established reputation as a multi-award-winning network of home-based agents, its robust financial protections (including the TCF Travel Compensation Fund), and its strong supplier relationships.

How did you cope with learning new systems?

My induction process was a little different because everything was being done under Covid restrictions – it was six months before I actually met the NPO team face-to-face! But even under those conditions, they were so easy to work with and ensured that the logistics of moving a large number of clients ran smoothly. Even now, any time I need help or advice, from setting up newsletter databases to managing the financial aspects of the move, someone is always a phone call, email or Zoom hookup away.

What about your supplier relationships?

By the end of my first twelve months as a PTM, I really had the sense that I had succeeded in establishing myself and my customers, reconnecting with suppliers and ironing out any remaining chinks. I had been working in major brand-name retail agencies with excellent supplier relationships, so when I announced my changeover to those suppliers, I was thrilled at their positive response: “Oh, fantastic, we love working with them. Really, really well done. Great organisation!”

Changing from a large retail office environment to becoming a one-person operation, were you worried about feeling isolated?

It’s definitely a big change, going from an office of eight to being by myself, but there are supplier functions, state meetings and regional cluster groups where I can get together with other PTMs.  We also have private PTM Facebook groups where anyone can throw out a question – like ‘what was that Stopover Program or who’s got a favourite restaurant in New York?’

I’ve probably never been in a network where there is so much sharing of ideas, and then we also have the amazing state-based Business Partnership Managers (BPMs), who are always extremely accessible. For me it’s not isolation; it’s independence. I set my own work hours and I’m much more available for my family.

Were you worried about the financial implications of a change?

I am happy to report that I am doing very well – I’m exceeding my previous numbers, and the potential for my business going forward is looking excellent. What’s more, my running costs are much lower than those of a classic retail environment, and I’m probably saving at least five to ten hours a week in admin tasks because I no longer have to worry about tasks like BSP reconciliations and back-office accounting.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s thinking about a change but is worried about the potential pain points?

I’m not going to lie, change can be a scary concept, but you owe it to yourself to have a serious look at it. Aside from the financial benefits, I love that I’m empowered with how much I can earn and how many clients I take on (and which ones). I have built a business that fits around my life, and I’ve created my own success.


If you would like to learn more about how to build a thriving home-based travel business, as part of Australia’s award winning mobile travel advisor network, chat with one of our state-based business partnership managers or request an information pack.