“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”
― Roy T. Bennett
When I left school, I had a passion for wanting to travel the world and experience life and different cultures. This, in turn, led me to study to become a travel consultant and a very good 10 years of my life. I managed to travel to many different countries, I got to experience different cultures and the fire that got lit my heart from traveling will always leave me with the feeling of gratefulness.
But one morning I woke up with a feeling of being unsatisfied. My daily duties did not feel like they were a challenge for me anymore and my prospects of actually advancing me in my career were very limited. I can’t tell you exactly what it was that made the switch in my head, but I had a few ideas and suggestions of reasons why this could be. Priorities changing with my kids, moving on in age, having a new sense of desire and drive, could be or not any of these reasons, but I needed change.
Having no other work experience besides being a travel agent, I found it very difficult to convince recruiters and even other humans that I had the capabilities to do something different, that the skills I have acquired can allow me to be a great employee in a different field that is not travel related. I knew it would be tough but oh my golly gosh, didn’t realize how hard till I started looking for alternative fields of employment.
Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a job as an administrator in a small team. I quickly discovered my love of Finance with this new role I was given and felt the spark reignite with a new passion. Having proved myself and the capability to learn quickly, I now have a lot more responsibility and thankful to be able to study towards being an accountant.
From my experience here is what being a travel agent taught me that makes me a great bookkeeper.
1. Working methodically
Building an itinerary is a methodical process with checklists that you have to run through to make sure the passenger gets to their destination and has all the bells and whistles. Plan detail by detail. Accounting and bookkeeping principles also work on being methodical, working through checklists from invoices, prime books of entry to financials. Everything has a step to be followed and has to be executed precisely.
2. Working with deadlines
In other businesses Fridays are calm days, getting ready for the weekend, not when you are in travel. Fridays are chaotic with people remembering late on a Friday they need to be somewhere that Saturday morning leaving you with as little time as possible to create miracles. Accounting deadlines are maybe not that time constrictive but you have certain periods where tasks have to be completed, but once you can deal with travel deadlines these seem like a walk in the park. 🙂
3. Good communication
When getting a new customer it’s like being a detective asking a lot of questions to understand their needs make sure you get the correct information to build their dream holiday. Having great communication has helped me dealing with creditors, debtors, and management, being able to express and extract information. The skill I learned has given me great verbal and written communication skills.
Delayed flights, stranded passengers and booked out flights and hotels can cause havoc but lead you to think of alternatives to solutions. Accounts not balancing and discrepancies are all real problems that can have either very simple solutions or will need you to delve deeper to see where the error occurred. Having a very good understanding of all the processes will lead to quick problem-solving techniques.
5. Conflict resolution
Being in a service industry you are bound to encounter disgruntled passengers complaining from the weather to the color of the towels. I have been thankful these incidents were few and far between but they did happen. The patience I have learned, the listening skills and how to be firm yet calm has been invaluable to me in the finance sector.
I can probably list a few more skills that have helped me being an effective bookkeeper, but my message is more just because a person has the only experience in one field does not make them inept to work in any other field. People can learn and change and adapt if given half the chance. If you have a similar experience I would love to hear about it and how you dealt with it.