Hello from Boise, Idaho! As this new year begins I am overwhelmed with thoughts of what this year is going to hold for me both personally and professionally. Like many people, I choose a few resolutions each January 1st. Since I’m a realist, I select goals I know I can hit as to not be disappointed in myself. That may be considered cowardly, but it works for me at the moment. Maybe I’ll shoot for the moon one of these days, but for now I need to set small, obtainable goals to build self confidence and belief in myself.
I have worked in the hospitality industry since I was 16—holding a housekeeping position at a small motel in my hometown of Salmon, Idaho. It was not glamorous to say the least, but it opened the door and helped me learn a strong work ethic. Since then, I’ve worked in many different hospitality positions: desk clerk, gift shop, banquet fill-in and shuttle driver (my most famous passengers being the early 90’s hair band Slaughter!). I moved on to planning conventions and meetings for a hospital lobbying association. That was a fantastic experience and I was with them for over six years before starting my family.
As I raised my two boys I realized they would not always need me 24/7 and I needed to plan my next career move. I dabbled in writing and actually got published and paid for it, but travel was my passion. I took an online travel course and started work in a brick and mortar travel agency in a nearby town in 2007. While there I realized that although I knew geography backward and forward and was familiar with resorts, hotels and airlines, I knew nothing about the travel industry itself. The entire experience was intimidating; and to be honest the agency owner had neither the time nor inclination to teach me anything he knew. I muddled through day-by-day trying to learn the GDS codes to book tickets and trips. Thank goodness for my manager, Shannon, who held my hand and led me through many iffy situations.
After I left there I had to decide if I really wanted to pursue a career in travel. My experience had not been positive; however, I felt if I could find the right employer I would succeed with my willingness to learn, my strong work ethic and my desire to see the world.
I started working with a large agency in the fall of 2009. It was exactly what I was looking for at the time: extensive training on the systems used to book travel and a guaranteed hourly rate if I didn’t hit commission levels. Plus I could do it from home and it was forty hours a week with benefits. I’ve now been with the company for over two years specializing in cruises. I feel confident in my knowledge of the product and enjoy interacting with so many different clients from all over the world.
This year my professional goals are to learn how smaller agencies work, what hosting is all about, attend a few trade shows and join some travel industry local chapters. I am thankful for this experience and look forward to learning all I can from my co-diarists and the editors of TRO. May 2012 be prosperous for us all!
Julie Summers is a cruise only travel professional. Julie works from her home in Idaho and has two boys 12 and 13, a software analyst husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier.