Claire reveals that her journey began even before she was born, “My mother took a Contiki tour through Europe in 1973, and I grew up watching slides of it, obviously inspiring a deep desire to travel.” However, by the time Claire was in her 20s, she hadn’t yet left Australia, instead pouring her energy into her role as public relations manager for a large firm. Keenly aware that there was a world out there to explore, she decided to leave her job and take a role with Contiki as a Trip Manager in 2005.
“People thought I had lost it,” Claire laughs, “I was taking a huge pay cut and leaving everything I knew, including a secure job at a great company.” It paid off, as less than six months into her new role, she knew that it was the happiest she had ever been. “I took a job to explore the world and go on adventures, but I didn’t realize that helping others achieve their travel dreams was even more fulfilling.”
After a few years on the road, Claire moved into training new Trip Managers for Contiki and then progressed to Quality Control manager for the Travel Corporation’s premium brands. She explains that exactly ten years ago, she took stock of where she was and her aims, “I reviewed every company across the globe that operated in the guided travel space, looking for changemakers that I wanted to work with.”
Surprisingly, her research didn’t lead her as far as one would think – she found one of those changemakers within the Travel Corporation, (then) Director of Operations, Ulla Hefel Böhler. Claire made the brave move of picking up the phone and telling Ulla that she wanted to work with her. Showing that bold moves pay off handsomely, Claire found herself working alongside Ulla less than three months later. She says that looking back, she’s even prouder of that move now, as it has led to being surrounded by people who share a similar ethos. “We recognize where we are, but we’re continuously planning to be better,” Claire observes.