Hey everybody! I’m Brenda Llamas Young of Encore Romance Travel (we just updated the name, more on that later). I’m honored to be sharing my story with you as part of the Travel Agent Diaries. I believe I’m the “newbie” of the group; I’ve been on this crazy journey for the last two years. Besides a travel entrepreneur, I moonlight as a soldier in the US Army where I have been serving for the last 18 years. I have done various jobs in the military, including executive assistant, human resources, training and operations. I also arranged the travel and all of the protocol intricacies that come with having a General on the ground.
While deployed to Iraq I occupied my spare time with planning my own destination wedding to Las Vegas and honeymoon in Fiji. I must say it was a great distraction, albeit a lot of work. Due to my location and time zone constraints I hired every single vendor based on referrals and their response to my inquiries. I ended up booking, not the cheapest vendor, but the most responsive one.
Once I finalized all of the wedding details, I started looking at honeymoons. This was much more stressful for me. Being that I worked in an office full of men, they had no opinions about wedding planning but when it came time to the honeymoon everyone had one! I decided to seek out travel consultants that could take care of it for me. I asked other brides for referrals; I got a few recommendations and started emailing agents one at a time. I was disappointed that some “amazing” agents never emailed me back. Others would reply with quotes for Antigua instead of Fiji, assuming that Fiji was not within my budget. Reluctantly, I decided that I had no choice but to book it myself. We had a great destination wedding with 13 guests and an amazing honeymoon in Fiji.
After my return home I decided to change my full time career and become a travel entrepreneur. Little did I know that it was not nearly as easy as I thought? I started researching travel schools and did not find anything. I resorted to emailing a well-known honeymoon travel agent and asked her for guidance. She replied with the name of a host agency instead. With some more Internet research, I came across the NACTA website and found a reputable travel course there. I even asked on Twitter for guidance and someone replied with a name. It was the name of my wonderful travel business coach.
After close to a year of education & coaching I opened up shop and I’ve been on a great rollercoaster for the last 2 years. So here I am, are you ready to take this ride with me?
Brenda Llamas Young is the owner of Encore Romance Travel which specializes in weddings and honeymoons to exotic beaches to include the South Pacific, Asia, Australia, Indian and African Coast. Brenda entered the travel industry in 2009 and after two years of education, opened her own home based agency.