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I Missed the Travel Industry

Dunshaughlin based Lorraine Lawless was Ireland’s first ever Travel Counsellor when the company launched here in 2005. Coming up to her 17th anniversary as a Travel Counsellor, we chatted with Lorraine about her journey so far. 

That was a big leap of faith Lorraine, what made you become the pioneer? 

“I had been made redundant for the second time from a travel agency in 2005, so I changed industry to see if I could do anything other than travel. But even though my colleagues were lovely, I missed travel and everything about it. I needed flexibility and it was difficult to find at that time, although in today’s world it’s the norm to work remotely, not just from your own home, but from anywhere”. 

“I almost said no straight away when I heard that there was no salary! But once I visited the head office in Manchester, I couldn’t believe how friendly and professional the team were and I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this company. Then when I heard that Cathy Burke was heading up the Irish operation, I knew we were in safe hands. Despite the pandemic, it’s amazing to see how the company has grown since then, with over 70 Travel Counsellors across the country and sales turnover of over €35 Million projected for 2022. 

How did you build your business from scratch? 

“I didn’t really have a client base when I started as I hadn’t worked in a retail agency for a few years. So, I began with my friends and family asking them to spread the word. I wrote to all my neighbours at the time too and let everyone in my local area know what I was doing and placed some adverts in local papers; it just went from there. Later I joined a BNI group and I made some great contacts and that helped to develop my confidence along with my business. Nowadays, it’s so much easier with social media.  Over the years I’ve evolved and now my business is 80% Corporate and 20% leisure, so I’ve the best of both worlds. 

How did working for yourself affect your family life? 

“I was so busy nearly all the time, but I’ve great support from my family. The kids have literally grown up with my business, I was already three years in when Leah was born and she’s now 14! Calum is now in college so their mum running her own business is all they know. When they started school, I also gently spread the word through the school, sponsoring prizes for Christmas raffles, getting to know the other parents etc. I’m not really a “hard sell” person so I found the softer approach worked best for me.” 

What was the effect of COVID on your business? 

I was fortunate in that some of my Corporate Travel accounts were considered “essential services” so they were still very busy throughout the pandemic with people travelling.  As we all know it was very stressful with trying to ascertain the rules around travel and the different country requirements, but I knew that it was of the utmost importance to look after these customers and as a result I was busier than I’ve ever been. Because of their experience, many of my clients are recommending me to others, so I have picked up some new clients on the back of the service I provided during the pandemic.” 

What do the next few years look like for your business? 

It’s onwards and upwards for me as this year will be my best year ever in terms of unlimited earnings. To think that I almost didn’t join Travel Counsellors because there was no salary, and now I’m earning a six-figure sum after the commission split!  I never thought it was possible to do the job that I love and earn such a fantastic living, whilst having all the flexibility that I need.  

I’m feeling so optimistic about the future as so many people who have never used a travel agent before are now using us because they want the extra security, help and advice.  But the technology and support that Travel Counsellors provides, and continues to build for me and my community, is the icing on the cake. 


Allie Sheehan
Allie Sheehan
I have worked in the travel industry for seven years, from working in American Holidays and The Travel Corporation I have a wealth of knowledge of all aspects of travel. Before joining ITTN I worked for Facebook which gave me the inside knowledge of the wonderful world of social media. I have a BSc in Event Management and am also a qualified beauty therapist (which definitely comes in handy in this business). Recently I joined the AWTE Ireland committee and I am enjoying working with and connecting with the network of women in travel.


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