Not Just Travel franchisees Natasha & James Oliphant work on their business part-time, haven’t spent a penny on ads and are still successful. They told us how they do it.
Both Natasha and James are busy people. Natasha works part-time for the NHS as well as owning a beauty business. James previously worked full-time in IT. They were looking for something James could thrive in and - with travel being a combined passion of theirs - starting a personal travel consultancy was a natural choice.
“We were in lockdown and thinking about what's next for us both,” says James. “In terms of what are our passions? What would we like to do for the rest of our lives? And it was very clear to me that doing nine to five wasn't the future.”
The couple spent a long time exploring their options, and it was clear that travel was the winning sector to focus on.
James continued: “From our very first date, we spoke about the types of travel we'd been on individually and where we'd like to go in the future. It's always been a big part of our lives.”
And Natasha elaborated that it was after a bad experience elsewhere, that they realised they could really make a difference.
“We had a really bad experience as a consumer after booking a holiday with another company and then having to cancel due to the pandemic. It was a catalyst to saying ‘we could do this so much better’. After watching the video tour, reading reviews and speaking to others out there, I knew The Travel Franchise from Not Just Travel was right for us. The one thing all our friends know us for is our passion for travel. So, this is a natural step for us, it wasn’t surprising for anyone we knew.”
Word of mouth has always driven their business
The couple love talking about holidays. Natasha explains that although you get everything you need to get started with the franchise, you still need to put the effort in to make it a success.
“It can be hard-going, but it’s all about the kind of personality you have. You've got to have confidence. Just go out there and start talking to people about holidays.”
They also leverage social media sensibly, being helpful and active online.
“We’ve not paid for one advertisement since joining and have just worked social media,” says Natasha. “Clients find us from our Facebook page. And we join a lot of the holiday groups and provide free advice.”
Natasha also explains how her beauty business is a great place for conversations about holidays.
“A lady booked an eyebrow wax with me for £10. It turned into a holiday to the Maldives worth £23,000.”
And being on holiday is perhaps the best place to find customers of all.
James told us:
“I think every holiday that we've been on, we’ve got a booking from someone that we've met. We went on a cruise at Christmas, met a couple of people and they booked with us to go on a couple more cruises.”
And a recent trip to South Africa created 13 new customers at once.
“We recently did a booking for Borneo. It was 13 individual bookings because we had taken a trip to South Africa and made friends with everybody on the trip. And we're actually doing the tour with them as leaders, taking all 13 as our clients.”
This is a business for the long-term - and it was free…
It shines through that both Natasha and James love their work and their customers. For them, holidays aren’t just about making bookings. They’re about helping people create memories.
“Obviously we’re here to make money, and the value of the bookings are great,” James says. “But it's the stories behind them that make them stick. We've helped people propose. We've helped people spread ashes. We've brought together families. I think those untold stories of travel are what really make every day special.”
That level of care and attention means people are coming back to book again and again. And they’re referring others to do the same, with a 5/5 rating on Trustpilot for their services.
All of that means they managed to make enough bookings in their first year to beat Not Just Travel’s unique Money-Back Challenge, which qualified them to get their business start-up costs refunded.