Debbie Stewart, Joined Jigsaw Travel 2003
How long have you worked in the Travel Industry?
A very long time, giving away my age but when Travel Agents had no Computers or Internet.
I remember my first day back in 1991 as if it were yesterday. A local Independent family business and all I had was a Monitor not the kind of today and a rubber keypad which I used to dial through the telephone line to call Airlines and Tour Operators. I used to manually price holidays from brochures, and write manual flight tickets, safe to say things have certainly advanced nowadays
What is a typical day like at Jigsaw Travel?
I couldn’t actually tell you in advance a typical day, that’s what I love about it! I could be arranging around the World Itineraries one minute, tracking lost bags or laptops the next to facilitating Dinner Menu’s for Corporate Groups at the same time… Multi-tasking is key in a day! I tend to thrive on this though, I love getting a result, if we have a situation that’s looking unlikely I’ll go out my way to find a way to make it happen. don’t get me wrong this doesn’t happen without a chocolate biscuit or two 😊
Where has been your favourite place to visit?
Probably Dubai. For obvious reasons the weather and the fact it’s not really that long a flight. I’m a sun worshipper. The Caribbean is also high on my list of favourite places. St. Lucia possibly topping it! Love the laid-back approach out there not to mention a Bob Marley Cocktail or two.
Think about if you won the lottery and money was no object where you would like to visit?
If I won the lottery, I’d probably hire out the Rockstar Villa in St. Barth’s, spend some time there then Island hop the Caribbean Island’s on a private jet of course. I would take the time when I was out there to think and plan my next adventure which high on the list would be South Africa, I really need to start buying lottery tickets now! Need to be in it to win it, I guess.
What frustrates you about the travel industry?
At how people particularly friends and family think that they can do my job easily. I’ve worked in the Industry a very long time and I’m still learning. I tend to compare it with my friend who is a hairdresser, I would never dream of cutting my own hair, could you imagine…
The constant change in policies and trying to keep up with it all. GDPR, Brexit, Package Travel Regulations to name a few and high on that list Fluid pricing!! how quickly things change, we need to be at the top of our game when it comes to changes, the brain does get challenged… oh and when online check in fails, technology is a wonderful thing when it works.
If you could travel with 5 companions (alive or dead) who would they be and why?
Will.i.am – I think he’s one of the coolest guys on the planet
Rick Astley – Don’t think this will come as a surprise, him and Will.i.am could collaborate
Sarah Jessica Parker – I would be taking her fashion advice and raiding her closet
Ally McCoist – No Surprises to anyone who knows me, there would be plenty of laughter
Prince Charles – Plenty of Stories to share and I think he has a really good sense of humour
What would you say the big benefits are of booking with a travel agent rather than online?
Oh, complete trust, there are too many online Agencies that don’t have proper accreditations or financial legalities, the market is saturated by them. Most Travel Agent’s will offer 24hr support (we do, my mobile never stops) so you have someone to talk to and not an online chat or a premium rate telephone number to call, why would you not want peace of mind having just passed your credit card to someone you’ve never met before. Travel Agents also do all the work for you, life is busy these days so time is precious so I wouldn’t want to be spending hours researching travel, I’d want someone to do this for me and someone I can trust. Agents have that human touch and Industry connections so sometimes might even get you an upgrade
Tell us something interesting about you that most people wouldn’t know:
I can’t believe I’m telling this… I was crowned Miss Strawberry Shortcake by celebrations Arts when I was younger and I don’t think the title was ever up for replacement, so I guess I might still hold that title, who knows, something I’d rather forget ha ha I was also a Runner competing at championship levels all over Scotland with Bellshill Harriers, I trained alongside Tom McKean who was a silver medallist in the European Championship’s in Croatia something I’m quite proud of.