AN IT expert who worked in local Government for 33 years has taken a career swerve to set up his own travel agent company.
Graham Parker, 53, of Swarland, worked for Newcastle City Council, but was made redundant last year.
After enjoying a bit of time off, he decided to launch into something new and bought a franchise from Travel Counsellors.
Supporting Northeast Press’s Keep Northumberland Working campaign, he is now embarking on a course with the company’s academy which will see him learn more about the trade while also generating sales.
“When I finished in May I took a few months off but there is only a certain amount of washing and ironing you can do,” he said.
“By the time my wife, who is a teacher, finished summer holidays I thought I wanted to do something else.
“I am going through the academy now. During the 13-month period we have to generate £120,000 of sales and I’ve been put through courses and I’ve been networking with others. Now I’m marketing myself to get new clients.
“I’m loving it. Travel is a passion of mine, I’ve travelled for years and it’s nice to be on the other side of it now.
“I’ve had quite a few bookings so far, group bookings for schools, family holidays, weekend breaks, and so far it is going well.
“When I first went through I had to go through tests and such like. They only let you take on the franchise if they think you are going to make it work.
“I definitly wouldn’t want to go back into IT now. Doing this was just something I had to do.
“I had to go out and do something for myself.”
Graham has his own website as part of Travel Counsellors and also offers a face-to-face service.
But he admits that internet deals are his biggest rival, however he provides a more personal service.
“The internet is the biggest competitor,” he said. “We can be competitive as well but at the end of the day when you book something on the internet it ends there. You speak to call centres, etc. When you book with me I’m there 24/7.”
To get in touch with Graham visit www.travelcounsellors.com/graham.parker or call 0845 0587653.