My name is Amy Hobbins and I am a Travel Agent. Travel Consultant. Travel Professional. MCC. CTA. Destination Wedding Specialist. GIVC. Preferred Sandals Agency. Former travel school teacher…and the list goes on. In other words, I am a 20 plus year veteran who, after all these years, and all these changes, still believes in the dream. What dream? That travel agents matter; we make a difference, we are worthy and we are still needed, and that this is a great profession!
When I started my travel career, I did what everyone did way back then; I went away to travel school. Once I proudly graduated in 1988 with big dreams of helping people travel the world, I returned to Green Bay, Wisconsin, only to find that no one would hire me. At that time, getting into the industry was difficult; every agency in town wanted at least two year’s experience. But my persistence paid off. Eight interviews and ten months later, I finally landed my first travel agent job–at $3.65 per hour. I was living the dream, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After many years of working for other agencies, in 1997, I took the plunge and started my own; Journeys Unlimited Travel. At the time, I chose not to apply for ARC accreditation, and the word quickly spread in my town that I was not “a real travel agent” because I didn’t sell airline tickets. Hmm. I sure felt like a real travel agent. I hired experienced agents looking for a change, but didn’t pay them by the hour. Instead, I paid them commission. They felt like real travel agents, too. They are employees, not independent contractors, and so far, it has been a great arrangement for all of us. Oh yeah, and those agencies who claimed I wasn’t real? Out of business.
So today, as 2011 begins, where will the industry take me this year? Or should I say, where will I take this industry? My goal for 2011 is to take charge of my business. And even after all of these years, I am not sure I have actually ever done that. I think I have let the industry control me. I have tried to be all things to all customers. Like most of us, I was afraid to say ‘no’ to any sale.
Join me as Journeys Unlimited Travel better defines who we are, and watch as we make the decision to no longer be the “jack of all trades”. Our first test is this weekend at a 2-day Wedding Show. My big step? Not showcasing a vendor, hotel, or destination at our booth. Instead, as many successful agents have suggested: we’re showcasing ourselves!
I’ll let you all know how it works!
Editor’s Note: Please don’t be shy about leaving a comment or question. It’s easy!
Amy Hobbins, MCC, CTA, is a 20 plus year industry veteran. She has managed both the corporate and leisure side of a full service retail agency, as well as teaching evenings at a travel school. She is the owner of Journeys Unlimited Travel, with an emphasis on destination weddings and the honeymoon market. Journeys Unlimited Travel is known for its full “travel concierge” services available to their clients.