One of the many benefits of joining a home-based network is the freedom to pursue your own area of expertise.
A prime example being TravelManager’s Fiona Donaldson who has managed to turn her own experiences and niche expertise into a successful business.
Donaldson has been a wheelchair user for the duration of her 22 years in travel and joined the network with the vision that she could apply her expert, first-hand knowledge in the area of accessible travel to build a business that focused on planning and booking holidays for other people with accessibility requirements.
“I was looking for a fresh challenge in my career when a chance meeting with one of TravelManagers’ Business Partnership Managers (BPMs) led to a leap of faith,” Donaldson said.
“I had to trust in my abilities to go out on my own and create a business that would specialise in accessible travel.”
Donaldson said the move has been more successful than she had ever hoped, despite having to start building a client base from scratch when she first set out.
“Not only has my business increased steadily, but it has also led to personal development opportunities that I had not foreseen.”
Starting out four years ago by giving talks to her Business and Professional Women (BPW) group and local Rotary organisations, Donaldson is now finding herself in demand as a speaker: she has gone on to speak about accessible travel at Spinal Life Australia’s Wellbeing Conference, and was thrilled to be invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference of graduating Occupational Therapy students at the University of Queensland recently.
According to Donaldson, being able to offer her clients first-hand advice and tips is one of the keys to her success, adding that one of her current career goals is to familiarise herself with the growing number of accessible tour companies that operate around the world.
“It is a highly specialised area, and many potential clients feel quite overwhelmed by the logistics involved in organising a holiday – the challenges they face will vary depending on the type and level of disability.”
“Having someone like me to remove the uncertainty makes a huge difference to their holiday experience.
“From checking the door dimensions and bed heights in accessible hotel rooms to sourcing equipment hire such as hoists and shower chairs to be delivered to the hotel prior to checking in, as a wheelchair user myself I know what to look for, what questions to ask, and I can offer valuable advice to my clients from personal experience.”
Donaldson said one of her business goals is to escort a group to Singapore or New Zealand in 2019/2020 to demonstrate that travelling with a disability is very achievable.
She’s also aiming to grow her business to the point where she is considered the go-to travel advisor in Australia for accessible travel.