I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I was younger. I had a career as a medical transcriptionist for 27 years because I was told I was good with words, could spell, and could type like a banshee–so I gave it a shot. It worked well for me, as I was able to raise my family, earn a good wage, and work from home. And considering this was the early 80s, it was practically unheard of!
A quarter of a century later, as an empty nester, I found myself with an unfulfilling job and a lot of time on my hands. I decided to do something exciting with the rest of my life and entered travel school at age 48. Talk about being nervous! I worked full time and went to school nights and in 18 months, I received my certificate in travel and tourism three months shy of my 50th birthday. I was thrilled! Thrilled until I discovered that no one would hire me without any experience. I applied at every travel agency within a 50 mile radius of me without any luck. I approached a local woman who was a fellow travel school graduate who had started her own home-based agency a few years earlier. I asked her many, many questions and sought her opinion and she took me under her wing. I was a sponge, she was my life preserver. I worked with her for a year booking friends and family on trips. After a year, I wanted to try my own hand at booking travel, and Galavant Travel was formed on a part time basis, with my mentor’s blessings. Since I was already set up to work at home, it seemed like a natural progression. I applied for my own TRUE code, registered my business name, and I was in business!
I haven’t looked back since that day. I watched webinars, attended seminars, ship inspections and trade shows, all while working full time as a transcriptionist. However, business was painfully slow the first year. I was hungry to get more experience planning trips and consulting with clients, but living in a rural area, it wasn’t happening as quickly as I had hoped. I decided to sign on with Avoya Travel/America’s Vacation Center—primarily for their live leads program. It would give me the experience I needed, while I built my own client base. I am still with Avoya Travel, and their leads, and I still have and grow my Galavant Travel clients. It is a balancing act, but I have hound the way to make it work for me.
I have enjoyed this learning process immensely. I have gone from a shy, unsure travel agent, to a more confident travel consultant. I didn’t have the privilege of having other travel agents in an office to help teach me the ropes, but I found other avenues that worked well, including local OSSN meetings, my travel mentor, get-togethers with local agents, online travel forums (TRO being the best), and my fellow Avoya independent agents.
I finally retired from transcription last February and am now a full-time, bona-fide professional travel consultant. After 5 years, it feels so good to finally be able to say that. So follow along and see how Galavant Travel progresses in their first year of full time business!
Patti Maxwell is the Owner of Galavant Travel in Deerfield New Hampshire. After a 28 year long career as a medical transcriptionist, Maxwell received her Travel & Tourism Certificate from a local Community College, and started Galavant Travel in 2007. Galavant is a home based agency affiliated with Avoya Travel. You can contact Patti by email, on her website, on twitter, facebook, or her blog.