“No Borders – Just Horizons…”
The above quote is one of my favorites, by Amelia Earhart-Putnam. It not only validates my love of travel and the industry I call “home.” It also summarizes my last few months of my changing role here at The Cruise Shop and Viking Travel – and how stepping outside the borders of my niche specialty (cruises) has resulted in a plethora of fresh and exciting new horizons!
As you may recall, in my last post, I explained some changes that have taken place within my company – most notably the retirement of one of my colleagues which resulted in me assuming her role as well as my own duties as a cruise specialist. While my extensive background in leisure travel enabled me to make the transition fairly easily, my absence from its everyday operations created its share of “agita” as well!
To say that juggling both leisure and cruise bookings in the height of Wave Season was challenging – resulting in our busiest, most successful season in years , would be the understatement of the decade. Now that I’m more accessible to my cruise clients than ever and the word is getting out, my sales have skyrocketed! Happily, not only did I manage to make it through the busiest time of the year; but I also feel stronger and more empowered than ever.
While the post 9-11 landscape was an exercise in survival of the fittest, I’ve discovered that the bottom line is that we can never afford to be complacent in any one role. While being a specialist in any particular genre is a definite plus, flexibility is essential— our ever-changing industry demands it! I am living proof. I am, and always will be a cruise specialist. But I’ve also discovered that to pigeonhole myself into that niche exclusively only creates boundaries (Amelia might say “borders”) not only between myself and my clients, but also to my own personal potential and growth (as Amelia would say, “horizons”).
Enthusiasm for travel appears to be greater than it has been for ages. Now that our busiest season is behind us, it’s time to buckle down and get creative and tap into our existing and potential clients’ wanderlust. As I mentioned, Facebook has been a fabulous networking venue for me! Several alumni from my school have booked some incredible trips with me, and they will be attending our high school reunion next month. I’m hoping their glowing testimonials will yield further bookings from even more classmates! Our group department has also been in talks with a regional winery, a local restaurant, and a new, culinary specialty shop about possible cruises and tours geared towards oenophiles and foodies. The fact I happen to be both a food and wine lover, offers some personal excitement for me! It’s very apparent that waiting for the phone to ring or for a client to walk-in the door is not enough to maintain your business. To get more business, we have to pursue it! Yes, repeat and referral business has been brisk, but just like sharks, we have to be in constant motion; otherwise, we are doomed to sink.
All-in-all, I’m finding this little detour a pleasant one –it is exhilarating, exasperating, even daunting at times! But it’s all part of the journey that is this wacky, wonderful world of yours truly–Linda Furlan, MCC–career Travel Agent — where it’s “No borders — just horizons!”
Linda Furlan is a career Travel Consultant with over 30 years experience as a front-line, brick-and-mortar agent. She is a MCC Cruise Specialist employed by Ensemble-affiliated Viking Travel Service/The Cruise Shop (www.cruise-shop.com) in Naperville, IL – celebrating their 40th Year in business in 2011. From Corporate to Groups to Leisure to middle-management, she’s seen and done it all – but becoming a niche specialist in her favorite genre – Cruising – has been the most fulfilling. Linda also recently combined her passions for travel, writing, and photography by starting her own Travel Blog . She can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at (630) 357-7447.