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Tim Larison, Larison Travel LLP/Family Travel Gurus

It seems like most agents enter the travel industry as a second (or third) career these days. Tim Larison is no exception, transitioning to travel from a career as a software engineer to travel professional. We recently spoke with Tim about his transition and time in travel.

Travel Research Online (TRO): How long have you owned your agency?

Tim Larison (TL): I started in travel as an independent contractor back in 2002, and then started my own agency around 2007. We are still associated with a host, Nexion, for some of our bookings, but we also have our own CLIA number for booking direct with certain suppliers.

TRO: How did the transition into the travel industry happen?

TL: At the time I was a software engineer. I had started a chat email list for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, which now has over 4,000 members. When I was offered early retirement from the software engineering job, a travel agent in the chat list approached me about getting into the travel business, and brought me onboard as an independent contractor. After about four years, my wife left her job and joined me in the business.

TRO: Did you start with any particular type of focus or niche?

TL: I started with focus on Disney. I have been on 35 cruises to date, so my current focus is cruises and Adventures by Disney, while my wife specializes in Disney World and Disneyland. The rest of our focus is family-focused trips.

timheadTRO: Looking back at when you first entered the industry in 2002, what do you know now that you wish you had known back then?

TL: I definitely wish I had known that it wasn’t as easy at is seems! I wish someone had told me that you need a LOT of patience as well. You can plant a seed with someone and not see results (i.e. an actual booking) until years later.

I also wish I had known then that being home-based means not really having a day off. There is a lot more time involved than I first thought there would be.

I have also gotten a lot out of attending conferences and networking, which is also something I wish I had known back at the beginning.

TRO: You mentioned attending conferences and networking; what tips would you give to other agents about networking?

TL: Join a local association chapter, like NACTA, where you can attend regular meetings with other agents in your area and network. You can also network at the various conferences offered throughout the year. NACTA has an annual conference, the bigger host agencies usually have an annual conference of their own, etc.

TRO: You mentioned attending conferences and networking; what tips would you give to other agents about networking?

TL: I have been the Colorado Chapter Director for NACTA for the past five years, and the Southwest Regional Director for the past three years. I think networking with other agents at regional chapter meetings and annual conferences is critical for our members.

TRO: What types of tips would you share with other agents?

TL: First, the more relationships that you have, the better. Relationships with other agents, with your host agency (if you have one), and with supplier reps. They are all crucial to the success of your business.

Second, networking. Network with other agents of course, but also in your community with other business owners, like in a BNI group. This type of networking and relationship building may not produce new business overnight, but in the long run it can produce some amazing business opportunities for you.

Third, patience. This ties back to the business not developing overnight. You have to stick with your networking, your marketing, etc., and be patient. It could be months or years before something comes of it, but it will only happen with patience and perseverance.

And finally, share experiences, not deals. Whether you are networking in person or posting on Facebook, promote experiences, not just some deal. You will see that people will be much more responsive to the experiences every time.


Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at susan@shipsntripstravel.com or by phone at (888) 221-1209.

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