The Truth About Flighty Life

People ask me about my job all the time. Usually all I can muster is an ‘I love it’ or ‘it’s amazing’ and we don’t really delve in to it further.

In this post I’m going to try my best to explain it to you! Maybe some of you are reading to know how I can afford to travel as much as I do and others may be curious to join the gang themselves. The rest are because they want to make sure I’m not talking shit 😉 Either way, I hope this answers your questions.

Here are the truth bombs about choosing a career in the travel industry:

Truth 1: You need to be passionate.

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Love travel? Awesome. Have you travelled much? We can work on that. Can you reel off the top 5 most popular hotels in the Goldie? Of course you can’t and neither could I when I started. But do you care about these places? Can you tell a story about that time you visited Paris and had a picnic by the Eiffel Tower or spent a weekend drinking in Port Douglas? Fantastic.

In our industry you will be talking to people; constantly. Do you know what people respond to most? Passion. Think about your favourite customer service experience. I bet you don’t think of the grumpy ones who made no effort to connect with you. Was it a sales girl who told you about her own intention to buy the dress you just nabbed or gentleman who described the smooth ride as you gazed longingly at your new car? Those people told a story and you loved them for it. They were passionate about what they were selling. You need to love the world and be able to talk about her all day every day. It’s as simple as that!

Truth 2: It’s all sales.

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I’m not a competitive person in the slightest. What am I doing in sales? Good question. I wasn’t a particularly outstanding retail consultant. I was good, but not amazing. I’ll be the first to admit it! I had the passion but struggled to get out of my comfort zone and connect with my customers at the time. I often felt intimidated by the general public.

There are some really mean people out there. It’s generally directed at the uniform or their misunderstanding of your company and their preconceived ideas of what you represent but it’s hard to remember this sometimes, especially as they growl down the phone at you or walk out as you’re mid sentence. Some of the guys are incredible at turning people around. They love a challenge! I didn’t. I do love being able to give my agents over the phone cuddles and pep talks when I hear these things go down. We all have bad days.

So I have moved in to wholesale. My job now entails putting together holidays for agents who call through to me. They’re all Flight Centre group kids and I absolutely love it. I’m a very loyal family girl and I take such pride in taking care of my guys. We have a shared passion and I can get excited with them. I can swear (a little) and mess around and it’s such a fun environment. I try to better my call count every day and that’s about as competitive as I get.

I came to Infinity and in 6 months got my personal best figure to higher than most agents who have been there for years have ever hit. I’m super proud of that! I’ve made a name for myself and I intent to keep it that way.

I love wholesale because the enquiries come to me too. I don’t have to wait for people to walk in. There’s almost always calls! So I just pick up the phone, listen, make recommendations, sell my shit and if I’ve done a good job hopefully we get the booking!

At the end of the day, it’s your job to sell stuff. We each have our strong points and preferences. Mine just so happens to be in wholesale.

Truth 3: You work a lot.

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At the moment I’m doing 12 hour days with my hour each way commute. I get in to work at 815, get organised, attend our morning meeting and get on the phones at 9. We get an hour lunch break and officially we close at 6. Usually you’ll be finishing up a call and will leave a bit after.

It’s a long day, but I love it. I love the people around me, my team, my agents. I get to talk about travel all bloody day. I get to gush about my memories and help people create their own. Every single day is different too. There’s no such thing as boredom! It’s incredibly easy to keep yourself busy.

Our systems are amazing once you wrap your head around them, which usually takes a few months. In retail I’d say it’s 3 months to be able to do your job and 6 months to do it well. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination but I’ve always been the type to love a challenge. Even when you know it inside and out there’s still a lot of reports and procedures to stay on top of to ensure you don’t fuck up!

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There’s also commitments like our monthly buzz nights which is essentially an awards night with free food and booze where we get to celebrate being awesome. There’s a ball twice a year which is the same thing on a huge scale. One is a formal affair and the other is a theme. Last year it was zombies…

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Another perk is team getaway! Some do dinner, some go away for a long weekend. It all depends on your teams performance through the year. At Rocky it was always Bali Bali Bali! Those were the greatest weekends with my old second family. In A Team, my first wholesale team, we headed up to Noosa and again made some incredible memories.

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Truth 4: You will meet the greatest people of all time.

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My best friends in the entire world were brought to me by Flight Centre. I’ve worked with all of them at a time and they are my sisters. We are all similar kinds of people. It takes a certain something to be a Flighty! It’s not an easy lifestyle but it’s so worth it. There’s nothing better than blowing off steam with your incredible colleagues/best friends after a long day. They understand what you’re going on about when you mention TTLs and allotments and they’ll hold your hair when you puke in the toilets after a boozey team dinner. Legends!

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Truth 5: You get what you give.

There’s a high turnover in our industry. I think a lot of people come in with an idea of what it will be like, free travel, desk job etc. but don’t understand that there’s a lot of hard work and responsibility that comes with that.

You need to be good with systems, you need a good memory, you need to be friendly 100% of the time even when being yelled at. You especially need to be good at negotiating and giving people what they want (or make them want what you can give). All we ever do is multitask. The work trips come when you work hard and they are not a right, they’re a privilege.

The pay isn’t steady. We are commission based after all. Some months are hard and some are awesome. Keeping your attitude in check is the hardest thing in this world, but if you can still serve every single person to the best of your ability despite how quiet it has been or how stressed you are, you’ll be okay.

You’ll work some weekends. They’re great because that’s when people book anyway 😉

Truth 6: It’s fucking awesome.

The perks in this job are sickeningly good. I’ve already mentioned buzz night and balls, but did I tell you about global?

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I was blessed enough to be able to attend our global ball the last two years while working at Rocky. The first was Macau. Our team hitched a limo to the airport as treated by our incredible leader Mark. We flew Cathay to Hong Kong and caught a ferry across to the Vegas of Asia. What ensued were three of the wildest days of my life. We raved in onesies with Will.I.Am. Rove hosted our awards. Jessie J and Havana Brown performed. It was ridiculous. We had a  pool party; I passed out in the wrong tower of the Palazzo.

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The following year it was Vegas. For the weekend. No biggie. Now THAT was a pool party. This time Gwyneth Paltrow was our guest speaker, Carrot Top was out host. One Republic performed. We rode the rollercoaster at New York New York. I didn’t pass out in the wrong tower but I did get lost on the Strip.

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This year it was in Singapore and though I forfeited my chances of earning my spot by darting to the US for three months, I can’t put in to words how proud I am of every single person who was over there. You guys earned it. The performers this time were Peking Duk, Basement Jaxx, Jason Derulo and Fat Boy Slim. Hamish and Andy hosted the awards.

Global is reserved for the absolute best of the best. There are people who have been in the company for 10 years and never qualified and others who have been every year. You set your own limits. You’re only restricted by your own beliefs of your capabilities.

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Two weeks ago I was flown to New Zealand for four days to learn to ski. For free. In the last few years I’ve seen Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Cambodia, Macau, Vegas, Cairns, Port Douglas, Sydney, Noosa and Bali many times all through work. Not every agent is as lucky as I have been. Sometimes staffing doesn’t allow for us to take these trips when they come up and sometimes people haven’t done the figures to justify it either. You just have to roll with the punches, work hard and know it’ll come back around.

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I love my job. I love that all it took was some sales and travel experience to get me in. This is my career and I didn’t need a Uni degree to get here.

My advice?

If you live and breathe travel like I do, why the hell wouldn’t you?

If you’re interested, send me a message and I’ll hook you up!

Harleigh Q

xo

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The greatest trip of my life, so far!

Hey everyone!

For post number three I’ve decided to tell you all about my favourite adventure so far.

There are a lot of reasons why my second trip with Topdeck holds the fondest memories. Firstly, it was the first future decision I made after my breakup with Tom. That was a very challenging time for me (and those around me who had to mop up the mess I was at the time!). It was March 2015 and I thought I was heading in one direction, which ironically I still did, but it certainly wasn’t in its original form.

I really wasn’t sure what my path was anymore. All plans I had made were now up in the air. So what does Leigh Leigh do when she’s going through trauma? Book a trip of course! But why did I choose this one?

I’d always had it in my head since starting Flight Centre that I would one day work at Infinity Domestic. I love talking to agents, I love our company, industry, and most of all – I love Australia! At that point I had only done most of Queensland and the coast from Brisbane all the way down to Melbourne.

Midway through my 567th viewing of Priscilla Queen of the Desert I had an epiphany: I needed to climb Kings Canyon.

I have always loved the red dirt. We all know I’m a girly girl but the idea of wearing my big boots and staring out in to the vast outback with the sun on my face was absolutely intoxicating. Australia is amazing. We literally have every landscape imaginable all in one country. I had to see it!

So I did my usual research, compared itineraries and came across the Down South and Outback.

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I had travelled with Topdeck the year before, after my first break up (Hmmm…) and did the Surfari from Brisbane to Sydney. I fell in love with the company; this had a lot to do with my beautiful tour leader Lauren who I’m still good friends with now.

It was an easy decision once I spotted this itinerary. Then the question became: How can I do this trip, get my dream job and start fresh in a new place all in one year?

Just do it. That’s how.

So I contacted my resources: the amazing Kate who I had boozed with recently in Tropical North Queensland, my wonderful bossman at the time, Mark, and my area leader, and essentially begged them to help me make it happen. They sure did deliver. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

~

Moving swiftly on so this doesn’t end up being the longest post of all time, the count down began and four months later I was sat on a Qantas plane on my way to the outback.

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Alice was everything I hoped it would be and more: hot, dry and wild. After infiltrating the group the night before I was due to join them, the adventure began. First, we headed out to the most spectacularly spiritual place I have ever been.

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I shared bubbles and canapes with some of the best ladies I have ever met: Lea 2, Anita and Lisa. This is one of the billion reasons I love travel. You find soul sisters all over the place!

We did the full 10km base walk. The first of many hikes on this trip.

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I miss being this fitness level. Anyway….!

Next was my version of heaven. King Canyon.

I got to live my dream.

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Honestly, look at that. How can anybody not find this country beautiful?

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The outback is a wondrous place. I felt instantly at home. The locals were brash and funny, the hotels were basic and cosy, the sights were breathtaking.

I truly hope that every single person gets to experience what it’s like to truly be in the middle of nowhere. I feel like I found myself out there. I was alone with a bunch of other alone people and never felt lonely for a second. We bonded over our mutual love for Australia and the funny scenarios we found ourselves in.

My personal favourite was the time, right before the end of the tour, when Lisa, Anita, Emily and I walked in to a little tavern in Princetown on the Great Ocean Road for dinner. A group of long haired yahoos sat hovering around the fire and all looked our way as we sat down.

Oiled up after a few wines we invited them to play pool with us and a bunch of jokes about what they must do for a living ensued. Lisa insisted they must be tradies; most likely carpenters. They agreed we had guessed it and we felt rather proud.

It wasn’t until I sent Anita back in to grab one of their numbers (what are we, 12?) until we found out the one whose hair I had just finished plaiting happened to be the one and only Craig Anderson. Pro Surfer.

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Good job Leigh. Well done.

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There were honestly so many highlights to this trip it would take me hours to write about it, but there’s one place in particular that really captured my heart. The Great Ocean Road.

 

From start to finish this segment of our trip took my breath away. My relief to hit the water again after ten days of bush outweighed the heavy shivering I would be doing for the next few days.

Yes English family. It gets really cold here! We were dealing with 8 degree days and strong arctic winds which is very fresh for a West Aussie like myself.

I think the scenery speaks for itself:

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In my humble opinion, it topped the Amalfi coast. Just.

So this, my loves, is my plea to you. Please see Australia. At some point in your life, designate a few weeks and instead of that annual Bali or Thailand trip, drive the coast from Brisbane to Sydney. Spend four nights in Ayres. Detour from that shopping trip in Melbourne and drive the Great Ocean Road.

Australia is not as expensive as you think it is. This tour costs about $2000 for two weeks, and my flights were $600. We had lots of meals and almost all activities included. I literally only spent money on snow globes and food (the usual).

Our country is the best in the world. I’m from overseas so I can say that without the mandatory Southern Cross tattoo.

I get excited every single day in my current job. It doesn’t matter how many I have put together that day, I still get excited every time an agent asks for Tropical North Queensland, Ayres rock or Great Ocean. I feel myself transport right back there. I literally relive my trips and share that passion with people who want to know all day. How lucky is that?

Moral of the story: Book a trip, find yourself, live your passion, see Australia.

~

Love you all

Harleigh Q

xo

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Adventure debt

Today Jess and I officially announced our 2016 USA trip.

Three months and counting until we’ll be roaming the desert in her cowboy boots and my circle skirts, searching for a cowboy or two to love; or maybe just a really good burger.

Now I am no stranger to the concept of saving money, nor am I a stranger to the concept of spending it it. I am what some may call a shopaholic. I’m not proud of the label, I prefer the term fashion enthusiast, however I recognise the reason I’ve gained it and understand that perhaps my actual NYR should be to simply stop buying clothes.

Hah.

In all seriousness it is my full intention to not spend a single dollar on clothes for the next three months. Mainly because I spent up in the Boxing Day sales. Sh.

Returning to what I intended to discuss in this post… Money vs travel.

I’ve got a lot of beautiful friends all over the world and we have all made very different choices in the directions of our lives. I know some who are incredibly well set up with their gorgeous homes and partners, babies or engagement rings. I really couldn’t be happier for them. If things had turned out differently I may have been one of them (perish the thought).

I, on the other hand, realised at the ripe old age of 20 that the only thing that I want to do with my life, with absolute certainty, is travel.

It all started while planning my first time venturing out of Western Australia after we had emigrated there six years previously. I nanny’d damn hard that summer and between the dirty nappies and spit sandwiches (let’s not go there) I felt the fire in my belly. I read and reread the Europe travel guide gifted to us by our lovely friends Shaniel, and created what was soon to be known as ‘the Bible’. Coined by my brilliant travel agent Tom, the Bible was my day by day, hostel by hostel, activity by activity, dollar by dollar folder that documented every last inch of our two month European galavant.

There was no going back after we sat excitedly in that Flight Centre store and he uttered the words ‘have you ever thought about being a travel agent?’ – thanks for recognising my calling old mate!

We saved desperately for six months, which honestly wasn’t too hard for a couple of video game loving hermits, and come April 2012 we were on our way.

Ever since that first trip, my entire life has revolved around travel. When I’m not spending my days planning it for other people I’m documenting and researching the places on my own bucket list.

I realise I must sound like a bit of an organisation freak at this point, but I think we’d all have a good laugh if you saw the state of my bedroom.

I have made decisions along the way that have enabled me to literally live my passion without too much financial hardship. I didn’t move out until last year, I didn’t get a credit card until last year (what was necessary at the time is now the devil’s temptation living in my purse), I don’t own a car nor have I ever, I don’t have a house deposit or any animals either (unless we count Jess).

I know I’ve been ridiculously lucky in that my family really are my best friends, and moving away from them was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I’m definitely not saying that this is a lifestyle anyone could afford with the right priorities. Some of us don’t have the option. We all have to make choices. We all have our own path. I thought I was on one and got very abruptly thrown off it, but that’s what I love about life. Just when you start to get off track, she’ll pull you right back again.

I just have lots of lovely people ask me regularly how I do it, and my honest answer is:

  • I’m very single
  • I’m very financial commitment free
  • I have access to cheap deals and the knowledge of the best time to book (which I’ll gladly pass on to anyone interested!)
  • I spend every penny of the savings I manage to accumulate on my next trip

My long term goal is to see as much of this planet as possible, and meet loads of amazing people.  I’m not worried about a house deposit or buying a car because future Leigh will take care of the grown up stuff when she is ready, provided I don’t get her in to too much debt.

You only live once, and who knows how long for? If you’re as passionate as me and you’ve got that rainy day money just sitting there… What the hell are you waiting for? Trust me, like a work out, travel is one thing you will never regret. You do not need someone to go with. Grow a vagina and find a tour itinerary you like and just be yourself for a while with a bunch of strangers. You’ll love each other by the end of it.

Well that’s it for my very first blog post! Sorry for the tangents, you’ll get used to it.

Lots of love

Harleigh Q

xo