In celebration of Women’s Month, we’ve approached some of our courageous female leaders in the travel industry, who are also a partner/ITC of the Club Travel Group, and asked them how they manage to stay on top of it all.
Here's what they had to say about working in our fast-paced industry, facing daily challenges and what it takes to succeed, in their own words.
Vanessa Frankal – Vtravel
“I have found travel to be a wonderful way to thrive and not just survive, especially during Covid. I was lucky enough to find a niche market to service during this time. It transformed my business to the point where my clients are now 75% repeat and referrals.
I feel extremely blessed to have thrived while most struggled to survive, and it wasn’t for a lack of extremely hard work and thinking out of the box, combined with risk-taking, information sharing with other agents, and many late nights 'travelling alongside’ clients. This is something they never forget, during a time when it was extremely stressful and nerve-racking to travel.
If you are committed to succeeding you can achieve anything you set your mind to, even if it’s just to stay afloat in the most challenging financial environment that our world has ever faced.
As a single, independent woman who has to support myself, I’m extremely proud of my achievements and grateful for all that has come to me through this wonderfully competitive but lucrative world of travel – I have very recently bought my very first free-standing home in my dream complex which I only have the travel industry to thank for…a little manifesting with a lot of hard work never hurt anyone.”
Zubaydah Hendricks - Zunaani Travel
“Zunaani Travel is a young, vibrant company, born in the heart of the pandemic, in July 2020 to be exact. My company may be young, but I have been providing first-class travel planning services and advice since 1997. I’m an expert at finding low rates and helping my clients secure the best deals according to their specific preferences and budget.
Starting a new business at any time is hard but taking this massive step in the eye of the storm took all the courage and willpower I could muster. I had to keep pushing myself to not give up, to not give in, to keep going… and today I am super proud to have a 2-year-old business that’s thriving post-pandemic.
As a single mom, living with a very special family who took us in, I had no choice but to be strong and courageous and do all I needed to do to make this work. The name Zunaani was easy to find, I am Zu, and my daughter is Jinaan. I’ve used my business name as a constant reminder to do all I can for my daughter, to just keep at it. It’s made all the blood, sweat and tears well worth it. I am truly thankful for all my blessings and am starting to give back…I’ve welcomed two new members to my team recently, intending to empower them to run their own businesses as well.
The best thing about the obstacles we have faced is that it has taught me resilience, and to keep the faith, no matter what. It’s taken us out of our comfort zones and pushed us to do things we only dreamed of.
The biggest of which is that Zunaani Travel will be opening a branch in Istanbul within the next 12 months, with the main purpose of being a DMC for English-speaking countries. Living abroad has appealed from an early age and I cannot wait for the opportunity to spread my wings and fly! To all the women out there, dream it, visualise it, feel it and the universe will help you make it happen!”
Maria Dorazio – Wakatravel
“Wakatravel opened our doors in January 2015, in Durban.
I have over 21 years of experience in the travel industry and have travelled to over 35 countries, so it is safe to say travel is my passion, as I love making people's travel dreams come true.
Wakatravel specialises in worldwide travel for both leisure and corporate clients, ranging from coach tours to cruises to island holidays…Whatever your travel dreams are we will help you make them come true.
We live by the saying that ‘Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer’ and look forward to many more years of success through our partnership with Club Travel.”
Rushda Behardien - The Travel Connexion
"I am an entrepreneur who wears many hats. I am a wife, a mom to three young men and co-founder and owner of a travel business called the Travel Connexion.
Before starting the Travel Connexion I worked - and continue to be involved with - female entrepreneurs as a Business Strategist and Coach through Organised Business.Com. I also serve as a mentor and facilitator at The First Lady Chamber. Assisting and empowering female entrepreneurs with business skills to grow and plan for their success.
My passion for travel and business is what drives me in my travel agency; to continue bringing distinctive travel experiences to life for my clients.
The Travel Connexion’s objective is to turn lifelong dreams into reality in a spectacular fashion, and an opportunity to check off those bucket list items with the added bonus of the personal touch.”
Jacqui Giles - iScape Travel
“Realising that I’ve been in this industry for 28 years, I should maybe feel old, weathered, bored and tired of this rat race… but truth be told, one never can feel that way in an environment that changes, challenges and stresses you out almost daily!
I landed in travel almost by default and over the years I’ve managed to gain experience in many aspects of this profession including hotels, international airlines (in the UK and locally) as well as wholesale operating before I settled into the leisure retail side. I dabbled in corporate travel for a while but have found that I am happiest when I can openly communicate with my clients and in return, build really good relationships with them.
I never imagined I’d be my own boss as I always enjoyed working as part of a team but the freedom that being a Club Travel ITC brings is almost second to none. Although I never switch off and I am possibly bordering on being a workaholic, I do still find a balance. I still have the same passion and love for what I do after all this time.”
Sue van der Toorn - Surfer 29 Travel
“Wow, I can’t believe I have been in the travel industry for over 30 years now. It has become part of my DNA and such a part of my life now.
I started as a junior consultant with Hylton Ross Travel, then moved to Pares Travel. Thereafter I joined KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (from junior res to office supervisor to sales rep), which I loved. I was then retrenched after 17 years and started on my own as an ITC with Club Travel. This is when Surfer 29 Travel became a reality.
Starting as an agent after being with an airline had its challenges as I had no personal clients and had to start from scratch. I started specialising in Madagascar and then also moved on to surf trips as surfing has been a big part of my life for the last 15 years.
As we all know, Covid dealt us all a heavy blow, however, it taught me so much as well. I managed to keep myself and my family afloat by selling soups, working at a local deli, doing odd jobs here and there and doing the TEFL course which allowed me to start teaching English online. Even though Travel is back and I am getting busy again, I am still teaching, but mainly because I love it. I teach children from 3 - 10 years old and it is so rewarding.
My life changed quite a lot during Covid but I learnt what was important and my whole outlook on life changed. I moved to a small country town and am loving it. I just felt that if I don’t start following my dreams now, it will be too late and it should never be too late. My ultimate dream is to build a yacht with my partner and sail around the world. I am sure we will get there one day, if we just put our minds to it and not be scared of changes. Life is short, and with Covid, it showed me that nothing is permanent and things can change overnight… So live in the now.”
Ayesha Moola - Legend Tours
“I found myself in the tourism industry in 1999 after having married tourism entrepreneur and pioneer in Township and Cultural Tourism in South Africa, Faiz Noordien. Having been with the United Nations for 5 years before this, working within the international community was something I was already au fait with.
With Legend Tours being in existence since 1994 as an inbound tour operator, I joined the company just when Legend Tours was awarded the Travel Desk at Cape Town International Airport and this is where it all began for me. Practical on-the-ground training, from doing airport transfers to managing the day-to-day operations is how I learnt and was mentored into the Legend Tours ethos of delivering world-class service, and today I am the Co-Director of Legend Tours.
We started to expand our market base into the African market from 2001 onwards, and with a growing staff complement, I saw to the running of day-to-day operations and finances of Legend Tours while Faiz saw to the product development and international marketing.
Constantly pushing boundaries and always looking at innovative ways to diversify, we began our outbound travel department in 2012 with me at the helm. A few years on and I began leading group tours to specialist international destinations. Legend Tours is now known as a Destination Management Company (DMC) for both the inbound and outbound markets.
As an entrepreneur, having your finger on the pulse at all times is paramount to the efficient running of any company. From being a receptionist to a director to a travel consultant, leading an international group tour, hosting a weekly radio travel show or doing the scripts and voice for the company’s radio adverts, is all in a day’s work for me.”
As a well-established consortium, we offer our franchise partners a wealth of support and during challenging times we are just a call, email or WhatsApp away. When they thrive we celebrate, when they face challenges, we are a shoulder to lean on and a helping hand to give their travel business the support it needs.