61-year-old action woman, Marietta Maidman, embarks on her new adventure in travel as a Not Just Travel agent
Marietta Maidman from Swanwick, Hampshire has always contended with wanderlust. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro aged 44, trekked the Inca Trail aged 58, dived the Great Barrier Reef and skied most winter seasons. At 44, she helped deliver a yacht from Athens to Tahiti, helping navigate the boat amongst the enormous cruise ships and tankers through the busy Panama Canal. Marietta gave up a highly paid job in financial services to make the yacht delivery and simply carried on travelling.
As a tour manager, Marietta has also travelled all over the world – Australia, Borneo, Canada, India, Kenya, Mauritius, the USA, Vietnam and Cambodia, and, closer to home, Morocco, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Turkey, to name but a few.
Yet it was being made redundant during the pandemic that started her on her latest adventure. Losing her job hit her self-confidence hard and she felt low and unworthy. Yes, the challenge encouraged Marietta to take the leap, follow her passion and train as a homeworking travel consultant. Her role as Trade Partnership Manager at AITO (The Specialist Travel Association) became increasingly uncertain when COVID-19 first shut down global travel. AITO is a membership organisation whose income is largely dependent on membership fees from small, independent tour operators, travel agents, tourist boards and professional organisations specialising in travel-related services. As a result, Marietta wasn’t entirely surprised when she received a call to say she was being made redundant. It was the call she had been dreading as she knew her options were limited.
Aged 60 and nowhere near ready or able to retire, Marietta knew that her age could be a barrier to finding a job in the travel industry which was already struggling as a result of COVID. So instead, she decided to become her own boss and train as an independent travel consultant with The Travel Franchise, thereby setting herself up as a Not Just Travel agent.
Marietta says: “I’ve worked in travel on and off for over 20 years in many roles; as a tour manager for a solo holiday company, delivering yachts around the world, with a cruise company and as a sales manager for trains and cruises with the prestigious Belmond brand. Yet, I have always been in awe of travel agents, unable to comprehend how they can retain so much information about destinations and operators. Until now, I never had the confidence to make the leap myself. Now that I have, it’s liberating. I’m using my long-established contacts and time on the phone to build my own customer base. Age discrimination can’t affect you when you’re your own boss!”
Combined with her extensive experience working in the travel sector, her £15,000 investment gave her all the training she needed to become a fully qualified and ABTA-protected travel agent, as well as office support, business mentorship and a ready-made professional-looking website.
Within a couple of weeks, Marietta had made her first booking; a friend who took his two adult children to Lake Garda for a short break. Since then, she has made further bookings including another friend who managed to squeeze in a relaxing holiday to Rhodes before travel shut down again. Marietta even managed to enjoy an unforgettable trip herself this year, travelling to Rome and the Vatican City to enjoy the cities’ cultural attractions without any crowds.
“I’m so pleased that I’ve taken this opportunity to invest in me. There is much pent-up demand for travel. People are simply desperate to travel again. My client base is mainly women over 50 who, like me, feel that life is for living – with no regrets; we still have a desire to explore the world, and to create our own adventures,” she says.