From studying film to managing Hollywood industry travel
I started working in the travel industry in the UK after traveling around the world for a year. I studied film at university, and when I returned, my dad was urging me to get a job. I really enjoyed my travels and found a job working for an adventure travel company.
After a while, a friend of mine who was working for what used to be Flight Centre Business Travel in Vancouver, BC, called and mentioned that I should move there. He told me he was making good money, and that it was a combination of leisure and business travel, so I decided to take the leap.
A people-first company culture
I started in a shop in Vancouver in 2013 and immediately took control of answering every phone call, and assisting every walk-in. Off the bat, I loved the culture of Flight Centre. The company buzz nights, meeting new people, I knew so many people that worked in other stores and made friends really quickly.
What stood out was that leadership members at head office would make calls to people in shops who were close to hitting their targets, just to cheer them on. It gave me so much motivation when I received a call from the former Vice President of Leisure in Canada.
In just 6 months, I was recognized as the top newie in Canada and qualified for the annual Global Ball. Over the years I qualified for several, and it continued to keep me motivated.
Something special about this company is that although there’s a structure of positions, there is not that feeling of hierarchy. I never felt like, “Oh this person is the boss, so I can’t talk to them.” It’s an open door. You work together, and you celebrate together.
Every person plays a role in the company’s success.
A company that offers growth and opportunity
After a while, I moved up to a Future Team Leader and worked with a great group of team leaders. One of them came from a finance background, and he taught me so much about that aspect of the business. I learned so much from him, and I still carry those things with me today.
Another Team Leader I worked with was really motivated by growing the business, and I was really into that. She took on growing the corporate side and I focused on growing the leisure side. We were a really successful team, and we worked in a very profitable shop.
Everything I learned from those leaders has defined my leadership style to this day.
Making the change to Hollywood Industry travel management
Eventually, I grew tired of the rain in Vancouver and wanted to move back to California.
I met with one of the leaders at Corporate Traveler Stage, Screen & Sports, and she offered a move to LA to start a new team there. It was a perfect opportunity to get into travel management for the entertainment industry, and they would help with the working visa process.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to move to LA as I was more interested in San Diego, but at the time that wasn't an option. It felt like a risk, but I gave it a go.
Since I moved, I’ve worked for a few teams in Corporate Traveler Stage Screen and Sports. I’ve helped teams achieve awards, and we were the only entertainment travel team that remained whole through the pandemic. We didn’t lose a single person.
Now I’ve been here 6 years, and I love my life here.
Finding work/life balance
I'm now at a place in my career where I’ve managed to cultivate an amazing portfolio of Hollywood industry clients. My team is successful, and my work/life balance is where I want it.
On my team, we don't just focus on individual goals, we also aim for collective goals. When every person on the team is supported and working together, we all get the benefits of that balance.
My mum always used to say to me, “You work to live, you don’t live to work”, and that’s always stayed with me. When I work with someone who is getting stressed out often, I tell them, “You have to set boundaries”. It’s so important to do that. It took me a while, but once you do, your experience at work changes.
Film industry travel management and coming full circle
Looking back, working in an entertainment travel agency might not have been the job I thought I’d end up working, but it’s so cool that I’ve almost come full circle to work in some capacity with film.
I still get to travel the world with the benefits of the company travel perks, but I also make enough money to do all the things I want to do, and I work with people that I enjoy working with.
I’ve also had the opportunity to work with Hollywood industry talent and shows that get nominated for Oscars and Emmys, which is something I never would have dreamed of when I first set out traveling after university 15 years ago!
So, if you could have a job where you can make money, do work that allows you to enjoy your life, and work with people you enjoy, why wouldn’t you?
Emma Mitchell is an Assistant Manager with Corporate Traveler Stage, Screen & Sports, based in Los Angeles, California.
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