Bonnie Lee entered the travel industry in 1994. She started as a home-based agent for four years working as part of two different host agencies. Because of bad business practices, the first host agency went bankrupt. The second host agency would withhold commissions from the home-based agents. Instead of trying to find a host agency that had everything she was looking for, she started her own.
In 1998, Bonnie Lee became ARC certified and created Travel Quest. What started as a small company of just herself and one other home-based agent has grown to over 480 independent contractor travel agents! The company exemplifies all of Bonnie’s most valued characteristics: customer service, support, continued education, and dedication to the success of its travel agents. Travel Quest is growing both in agent numbers and profit. Being part of the Travel Quest network means being part of an honest, successful, and powerful nation-wide company.
Travel Research Online: What was your first experience in travel?
Prior to entering the travel industry, I only had 2 travel experiences in my adult life.
1. Taking our 4 kids to Disney in 1989
2. Taking my husband to Vegas for his 40th birthday in 1993
I entered the travel world with absolutely no travel experience.
TRO: What made you want to enter the travel industry?
I wanted something different. In 1985 I began making windsocks out of my home. As the business grew, I hired independent contractors who sewed for me. That business grew. In 1994, I decided it was time for something different. I sold the windsock business for something more exciting than fabric…TRAVEL!
TRO: How did the business practices of the first two host agencies you worked for affect your decisions when starting your own?
Having been an independent contractor, I felt I knew exactly what I needed to focus on to be a successful host agency: honesty, communication, consistence, high commissions, up to date technology, accessibility, quick commission turn around and a friendly, helpful staff.
By providing these services, it opens the door for the independent agent to focus on selling and caring for their clients.
TRO: Travel Quest has experienced phenomenal growth: what do you think is the largest contributing factor to this growth?
Our personal service. Most of the large host agencies are all on the same page when it comes to commissions and products.
What sets us apart is that we answer the phone. I mean physically answer the phone, every time during business hours. We talk to our agents and prospective agents, and when they call back, we answer the phone again, and we talk to them.
In today’s world, personal touch is what sets people and companies apart.
TRO: Why should Travel Agents be particularly interested in Travel Quest as compared to other host agencies?
If an agent wants to be more than a number on a roster, we are the host agency for them. Our philosophy has never changed, never altered. Our agents are our customers! If they succeed, we succeed.
TRO: What is one thing about Travel Quest which the majority of agents might not know?
The owner of Travel Quest comes to work every day. She talks with agents, she works on commissions, she talks with vendors and she has the most incredible staff dedicated to the absolute success of our independent agents.
TRO: In what ways does Travel Quest provide “continued education” to its Travel Agents?
We have a great education program, called “Live Webinars Series”. Through this program, we directly deliver more than 4 live and recorded webinars per month! We feature a different destination each month and all webinars focus on selling that destination. Our staff has over 40 years of travel sales and customer service experience. We work each day to put that experience to great use and pass along our knowledge to the Travel Quest network.
TRO: Does Travel Quest have anything exciting on the horizon you can share with us?
Early spring, we will be introducing a new Agent Resource Center. The portal will have less clutter and be more user friendly. The entire site will be searchable, in an effort to deliver the best information in the most effective way. The Agent Resource Center will also feature an interactive calendar and multiple forums for Travel Quest agents to connect with one another and ask questions.
It is truly an exciting time to be an independent agent with Travel Quest!