Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel and ABC’s Resident Travel Expert
CEO of Elite Travel, business strategist, and Resident Travel Expert for ABC’s featured show Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend are just a few of the titles that Tammy Levent claims. She is an immensely successful entrepreneur, having started her first business as a teenager. Tammy conducts seminars and events to get her message of strategic partnerships to large audiences; she also offers private consulting to help other business owners and entrepreneurs grow. Travel is Tammy’s passion, so in the face of hardship she decided to jump into the industry and make good out of the bad; it was then that she built Elite Travel, a travel management company that has done millions in traveled business. Now over twenty years later, she continues to work hard to educate and teach others the ins and outs of the travel industry.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You got your start building businesses by founding Seven Islands Shipping, the top company in the U.S for export shipping in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at only 17 years old. How do you feel that experience has shaped you and how you develop other businesses?
Tammy Levent (TL): Starting Seven Islands Shipping at a young age taught me everything that comes with entrepreneurship and what to expect with running a business. I learned early on how to build a business and how to expect failure, and learn from it. I don’t freak out when the phone doesn’t ring, or when the economy starts to fail because I’ve developed my business in a way that I know how to handle it.
TRO: You moved back to Florida after selling Seven Islands Shipping to start a successful jewelry store. Was there anything that called to you particularly about jewelry?
TL: I like diamonds! I also wanted to do something different and the jewelry store showed me that I never wanted to work in inventory again.
TRO: Aside from a love of traveling, was there anything else that pushed you to start a career in the travel industry?
TL: I was in a bad situation, and one person changed my life by posing the question “If it had nothing to do with money, what would you do?” My answer was travel. I was desperate to get on track and provide for my family, and I wanted to work for myself, owning my time. Plus, there was no inventory involved and I had my experience building two prior businesses to help me prepare.
TRO: In 2013 you partnered with Kevin Harrington to develop The Travel Agent’s Success Kit™ to help travel agents take their own businesses to the next level. Can you tell us a little more about it?
TL: TASK is a line of products designed to help start or grow your travel business. The TASK Kit itself is a video series with over 15 hours of streaming insight that teaches branding, marketing, advertising, strategic partnerships, and many other valuable techniques involved in the travel industry. You get immediate digital access to all of these tools after purchasing the kit. I also do TASK Live events, which are live training seminars that take place all over the world, and I guarantee that anyone who comes to one of my Live events will leave making more money than before. A prime example of this was when I helped a TASK Live attendee double her profit on a group booking she was working on in the middle of the event! TASK Live Agents receive a free 4-day all-inclusive trip to advertise on their site to help attract leads and draw customers. I want to educate and help others just getting into or struggling in the travel industry, and TASK does that.
TRO: The customer service that Elite Travel offers is known for being extraordinary, with the company even coming to the aid of a passenger injured aboard a cruise ship in 2013. Elite Travel made all the necessary arrangements to put the customer and his needs first, and you consider it one of the company’s greatest accomplishments. Are there any other stand-out moments you regard as monumental accomplishments in Elite Travel’s history?
TL: Actually yes, another event kind of similar. I had 12 travelers from a group of 68 decide to go rogue and take a 2-day drift to Egypt from Athens. I told them not to go, but they didn’t listen and it was not long before I was stepping in to help them out. On their trek the 12 were robbed on their camels at gunpoint and left in the desert. Reconnaissance planes were the ones who found them! They were taken to the Embassy in Egypt, but didn’t have enough information to allow their release. It took some serious work, but I was able to get them set up at the Embassy in Athens and eventually back home. Definitely another big moment.
TRO: What do your day-to-day activities and responsibilities as CEO of Elite Travel look like?
TL: There is a lot of juggling involved. I am working on many different things at once and I don’t have an assistant so I am doing everything on my own. I rarely have meetings, and if I do they have to be very focused. I reserve different days of the week for different projects. I have film days and consulting days, and TASK Live takes up a majority of my time. I also do all of my marketing and advertising. Every day is different.
TRO: You took a position on Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend as ABC’s resident travel expert, which sounds like an incredible opportunity to share your passion of traveling with your viewers while also educating them on incredible and unknown destinations. What other details can you give us about your segment?
TL: My segment is unique because it doesn’t just focus on me and what I do. I work with a lot of guests on the show and discuss different parts of the travel market to educate the consumer with variance. It’s about all the moving parts of the travel industry: specials, destinations, tips; viewers get to learn from featured guests as well as myself.
TRO: Of all the places you have traveled in your career, do you have a favorite?
TL: Anywhere I haven’t been to yet.
TRO: What can we expect this upcoming year from Travel Elite?
TL: I am always looking for opportunity: things just come to me and I expand on them. This year holds a lot, some things that are already in place and some that haven’t even been fully developed. Like I said, I’m always looking to grow and this year should be a big one for that.
For more information on Tammy and her successful career, visit her online at www.tammylevent.com.