If you’re looking for a travel expert, you can be sure you’re in reliable hands with Travel Counsellor Gary Manners. Having worked in the travel industry since 1984, offering an exceptional customer focused service and providing the most up to date travel advice, Gary’s holidays include flexi booking cover, financial protection and an approach tailored to his clients. With a 5-star Travel Counsellors Trustpilot rating, Gary is always on hand for his customers, whether it be in person or over Zoom. Traditionally specialising in cruises and long-haul holidays, the business has seen an increase in work across Europe and within the UK too. Putting his clients at the heart of everything he does, Gary has a huge passion for helping plan trips for both leisure and business.
Since coming out of the pandemic, Gary recognised the need to develop his business to adapt to the ever-changing travel environment as new legislation on travel destinations and testing having taken effect. Seeing this time as an opportunity to learn and grow his business, Gary joined the EnterprisingYou programme. We caught up with the Travel guru to find out how our programme has helped him and his travel business.
Tell Us About Yourself and Your Business
I have been self-employed for nine years and I have a travel franchise through Travel Counsellors. I work from home as a travel agent, I have my own website and I have a bank of customers who book regular holidays with me. I've been in travel since I was twenty and I've been in the industry for all of my working life. I used to be a travel and tourism lecturer which I did for five years, and I have been a holiday rep, I've taken coach tours, and managed a travel superstore for the co-op. And now I am self-employed as a personal travel counsellor!
I organise holidays, tailor made trips, multicentre tours, long haul holidays and cruises but I do a lot around Europe at the moment too, and UK holidays. It’s been an interesting career! I’ve been around the world three times! I trade under Gary Manners, Travel Counsellors. I’m based in Oldham, work from home and I have my office here. I have customers all over the UK, I’m totally mobile and I can work anywhere. I can visit customers at their home if they want one to one home visits as It’s a very personal business. I'll do an initial meeting with the client and find out what they’re looking for and I'll deliver tickets. I arrange the whole trip. It’s been a good business over the years until the pandemic hit and the rug was pulled over night!
How did you hear about EnterprisingYou?
I attended a Travel Counsellors webinar, and this included an afternoon session with my business coach Simon and a few other people from EnterprisingYou. They talked about the programme on offer and it just sounded like such a great opportunity, I could see the benefits immediately. This was a real chance to get the training and development I wanted.
How has the business developed since being on the programme?
The pandemic really affected the travel industry, so I decided I would use the extra time sensibly and get up to date from a technology and marketing perspective. The new knowledge has given me the confidence to get back out there again. It's been a huge benefit and I've really enjoyed it.
The business is definitely bouncing back from the effects of lockdown, the complications with testing and the confidence people have in the traffic light system has been the main challenge. I used this period to learn, and the programme has been a big part of that.
What sorts of things have you done on the programme?
I had Covid and felt exhausted after it, I think I developed Long Covid and I didn’t feel so good, so the Health and Wellbeing side of the programme really helped me at the beginning of the year, it got me back on track. I got out walking, I learnt to understand why I was feeling how I was feeling and how to best deal with that. I used the Health Assured service that was on offer and really got myself back to where I needed to be personally and in a business sense. I sat down with an expert advisor and received a couple of one-to-one sessions over Zoom, and we talked about Health and Wellbeing. I did a training programme on walking and regular exercise. The training helped get my mind in the right place and that’s helped me think clearly about my business.
EnterprisingYou have helped me get back out there and they have helped me with networking events. There has been a lot of support from everybody on the programme. I did a financial management course, which was great, the specialist who led the course was really informative and helped me with my business finances a lot. We looked in depth at my incomings, outgoings, savings, debt etc and how I l handled my money and bills. We explored financial services available to me, special offers and things like that. He really went into detail on how I could save money and maximise my earnings, from switching suppliers to saving on bills. He put me in touch with contacts who saved me a lot of money and got me access to assistance funds. Some of my bills have even been capped for a whole year now! He showed what was available to me and my business. He made me aware of so much and he has helped me tap into all the available avenues.
So, tell us more about Simon, your business coach
He was brilliant! Simon helped me source a grant which I was successful in applying for.
We had regular meetings, we talked about my business and finding out how my business was doing and what we could do and courses I could undertake to progress. We looked at courses that could benefit me and my business and I got myself booked on, and they really helped. Its been fantastic!
I did a sales and marketing course, a Canva course, a LinkedIn course, a Facebook course, a social media course and a video creation and editing course. The access to resources has been unbelievable, all things I've learnt and can now implement from a marketing perspective to help boost my business. My social media is really active now, I keep on top of it with scheduling and I have a much deeper understanding of the platforms, how to use them and how to make the most of them. There's so much now that I never used to do before. My marketing is much more tailored and engaging, targeting and attracting clients relevant to my business.
How has your business changed since being on the programme?
I’ve learnt plenty of new things to help improve my business, I've retrained to benefit my business in so many ways. That was the reason I joined the programme, to take away this knowledge and implement it into my business. I am now in a much better place, and I use my time more beneficially as I understand so much more about marketing and finance. I’m very confident in using social media now and managing my resources better. I manage my time a lot more efficiently and productively. I can plan for the future too as I’m a lot more organised and structured in my approach.
The support has been so good and knowing you can just pick up the phone has been wonderful. You can ask about something you’re not sure about or just run an idea past your business coach. I have got a lot out of the courses and the business coaching. The insight I got and the understanding I now have has been such a help.
What would you say to someone who needs some support or is thinking about joining EnterprisingYou?
EnterprisingYou is such a success story, there's so much on offer. If you live in the Greater Manchester area, it’s so beneficial. I’ve already recommended some of my friends! It’s all clicked into place for me, and it’s been a wonderful experience. I've taken away so much that has really helped propel my business. I’ve achieved all my goals and got from the programme everything I hoped for my business. I look back at it and see how much knowledge I've learnt from the programme, and I'll still carry on recommending. It’s a no brainer!
You can find out more about Gary and his business here:
- Instagram: Gary Manners Travel Counsellors
- Twitter: Gary Manners Travel Counsellors
- Facebook: Gary Manners - Travel Counsellors Manchester
We provide fully funded support to the self-employed, freelancers and gig economy workers across Greater Manchester. If you would like to find out more about EnterprisingYou, register online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the EnterprisingYou programme can be found here.