HOT top seller.
However ‘the time is right,’ she says. ‘I still do it bloody well, but I’m just getting tired.’
Resident in Te Awamutu for 46 years, she raised a family before answering a newspaper advertisement for Budget
Travel manager in her hometown in the late 1980s. Wakelin duly got the job, with a staff of one, two phones and no fax machine. These were the days of travel manuals and hand-written tickets. ‘
‘It was a challenge, but great.’
Wakelin built the business up to a staff of four and in 2000 had House of Travel ‘on the doorstep’.
In 2002 the business rebranded to House of Travel, with Betty the owner-operator.
‘I said I would give them three years,’ she laughs. ‘It becomes an absolute passion.’
Kate Smyth and Carol Sutton, owner-operators of House of
Travel branches throughout the Waikato, approached to buy the business in 2010. After some negotiations, Betty Wakelin, then aged 70, agreed to the sale. ‘I said I would give them three years.
‘I’m privileged and fortunate to have done what I’ve done. It’s been an absolute buzz. You have got to a be a “people person” to make a successful travel agent. You need to be a good listener, it’s about qualifying the client, asking questions and getting the right information.’
Her favourite destination is Africa, with its wildlife and panoramic scenery it steals your heart away, hence she has been there eight times.
Wakelin will hang up her working boots on Friday 15 December – but she won’t be stopping altogether (she just doesn’t know how)! She is leading a tour group to Sydney and South Australia in April 2018, and Norway is on her bucket list.
Betty and husband John will be retiring to Tauranga.
Among other things she is looking to turn her attention to volunteer work and ‘sorting out my photos’.