For the past four years, Travel Research Online has highlighted the lives of five of your colleagues. Some operate from home. Some operate from a bricks and mortar location. Some specialize and others generalize. Some are online, and one was even a large host agency. The people who have volunteered to put their business lives on the Internet for you to see are newbies to the industry and some old stalwarts. Regardless of their position in this great industry we call “travel,” they all have something to offer. It might be a marketing idea. It might be a tip on how to handle a group trip. It might even be a step-by-step guide to expanding and growing your niche business.
This year is no different and I would like to introduce you to our 2013 agents who will be penning weekly columns in the Travel Agent Diaries series. We have an outstanding group of people this year and I am sure we all will be able to take much away from the series. My personal request to you is to take some time and read each entry as they publish on Tuesdays and then take a minute more and leave a comment with your thoughts or just a simple “thanks for putting it all out there.”
Barbara got into the travel industry after working as the volunteer Director of the Los Angeles chapter of a non-profit dealing with troubled teens and their parents. In her desire to help families before they reached a crisis point, she founded All Together Now Travel in 2005 where A Journey Shared…a Memory Forever ® became not only her trademarked tagline, but also her simple mission statement. In 2012 she established an in-house division of ATN to focus on the honeymoon niche, marketed separately as Romantic Journeys, and enjoys not only creating wonderful honeymoon memories but the opportunity to grow with her clients as they begin their families.
Brenda Llamas Young
Encore Destination Weddings and Honeymoons’ founder, Brenda Llamas Young, began Encore after realizing something in the industry was missing. She was halfway into a deployment to Iraq and was putting the finishing touches on her own destination wedding when she realized she didn’t have the time, energy or resources to plan her very own romantic honeymoon to Fiji. After emailing every travel agent that was recommended to her for help, she did not receive one response. At that moment she decided she could do it better. When Brenda is not prescribing honeymoon destinations, she can be found reading a good business book, sewing a quilt to gift, discovering wonderful ideas on Pinterest or exploring the beautiful landscapes of the open roads on the back of a Harley Davidson.
Pam started her home-based Hallberg Travel & Tours in 2005, as a newcomer to the travel industry after spending 20 years as a Professional Librarian which, ironically is not too far removed from the travel industry. She learned how to start an agency though an online course with CareerQuest, by attending Cruise 360 and networking with other home-based agents. She chose Nexion as a host and have been with them ever since. Pam holds her ACC with CLIA. Hallberg Travel & Tours almost entirely leisure with a strong focus on cruising and a sub-niche of food and wine themed trips.
Nikki Smith works in a Boise based brick and mortar agency, Global Travel, a Virtuoso Agency. Nikki got her start in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland when she became a flight attendant for BMI based out of Paris. After that, she was a ski and snow guide for Inghams Travel escorting British visitors across the globe on ski and snow vacations. With these experiences, Nikki has been fortunate enough to literally see the world and to immerse herself in the different cultures. Nikki finally settled down in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a period and now finds herself in Boise along with two wonderful dogs and wonderful boyfriend. As I write this, Nikki is returning from Scotland where she was able to spend the her first Christmas “home” in more than fifteen years!
Mary Helen Maupin
Mary Helen began in the travel industry in Nashville back in June 1984 and has held many positions ever since including being the administrator for the Ambassador Institute of Travel. In 1991, she left the Institute to care for her aging parents and re-entered the industry in 1992 in Shelbyville and Brentwood, TN handling group and incentive travel among other duties. In 2005, she opened MHM Travel which specializes in faith-based travel, groups, customized vacations, and cruises. Mary Helen is home-based and is very active in her local business community including being a Nashpreneur. Obviously, faith plays an important role in her life and she is a 4th generation Presbyterian elder.