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    5 minutes with… Holiday PA’s Sandie Lehal on the impact COVID-19 has had on her travel business

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    The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s travelling plans, but what do you do if you work in the travel sector?

    We spoke to Sandie Lehal, Founder of Holiday PA, about the impact COVID-19 has had on her travel business…

    Q: What inspired you to start Holiday PA?

    I gave up a corporate career, working all hours as a Solicitor to follow my passion of travel. I set up Holiday PA an independent travel consultancy helping clients get the best deals on their break away and taking away the stress of researching the holiday and finding the best hotel and things to do at that destination.

    It was a big leap from corporate to independent agent, and it also meant leaving behind an office to set up working from home.

    It sound’s glamourous right? Setting my own hours, working in coffee shops, having lunch meetings in all the fancy restaurants and bars, attending events or switching off and watching the Ellen show at 11am.

    The reality is far different.

    Q: What has been the biggest challenge?

    I have three young children so prior to COVID-19 and lockdown they were at school between 9am – 3.30pm. It gave me those hours to work and be productive.

    The travel industry is full on and I must be available 24/7 for my client’s especially when they are on their break. I could get a call during cooking dinner or preparing the kids for bed to attend to my client’s – they are my number one priority. That means the family sometimes come second which is not always a good thing. Not having that switch off point at 5pm and getting in the car to come home and have exclusive home time is something I will never have.

    It’s no secret that when COVID-19 forced the country and world into lockdown that the travel industry was the hardest hit.

    This will affect my business and industry for years to come. The immediate aftermath was of course fear and questions like, ‘what about the holiday I booked?’

    It was a crazy few weeks and months with a lot of re-arranging, cancelling all whilst worrying about my own livelihood as client’s were disappearing. It took its toll as I had to stay positive, knowing it would pick up, and now thankfully it is.

    Q: How has lockdown been for you, personally?

    The reality of lockdown meant my children were now at home full time too and their demands also meant educating them due to missing school.

    I had to prioritise their need’s as well as trying to deal with the aftermath of my clients and navigating the COVID-19 news and updates so my clients were also kept updated.

    As time moved on I had to adjust and learn to diarise times for a new normal within my own home.

    I started allocating time slots to the children and my business so that I could dedicate time to each part of my life.

    It certainly helped navigate a much more hectic lifestyle and gave me some guidance and structure to my day so that I could focus on my business and keep the home running.

    On reflection, working from home for me was my life and still continues to be but I have adjusted and made it work for me around changes none of us saw coming.

    Q: What are your top tips?

    My top tips are to plan for your bucket list holidays now and make them a reality in 2022! With low deposits and flexible deals available, it is very achievable.

    Q: Why did you join PA Life Club and what do you enjoy most?

    I love being a part of the PA Life Club, I love the sense of community. Great networking opportunities and training at our fingertips.

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    Hayley Somerscales

    All stories by: Hayley Somerscales