Can we possibly be starting the sixth year of the Travel Agent Diary series? Wow! Six years ago, Richard Earls and I were discussing how beneficial it would be if agents could share what works for them as well as what doesn’t without fear of tipping off the competition. It was a unique proposition and one that really should have failed; but, back in 2009 we found five brave souls who were willing to take a shot and lay it all on the line. Apparently the concept worked. Over the years, we have seen online agents, agents who specialize, generalists, home based agents, employees, agents who are very close to being tour operators, host agents, and more.
Through the series, we are able to bring fresh ideas to more than 50,000 agents. These ideas can work for few, some, most, or none. We have heard about business generated from a sporting goods exhibition to a texting club for specials. We have learned about unique new ways to market yourself and your agency, and ideas to bring added value to the table to set you apart from the competition. In a sense, we are all competitors; but, as a whole, we are friendly competitors. The industry has seen its share of adversity and it is the resilience and the willingness to help each other that keeps us from becoming the dinosaurs the media wants to think we are.
And 2014 is no different! This year we have a lineup of agents that will be bringing you their stories of success and failure each week on Tuesdays. I encourage you to make it a point to read each column and offer them encouragement in the comments. Ask questions, learn from them, and teach them.
Mary Jo Salas works for San Antonio based Alamo Travel. Founded nearly 30 years ago by a Mexican immigrant, the agency is the epitome of the American Dream. Alamo Travel is a full service agency selling family vacations, group travel, cruises, destination weddings, honeymoons and quick getaways.
Mindy Milliron has been a professional travel consultant since 1996 working in suburban Washington, DC. She specializes in personalized vacations and exotic adventures. Mindy has earned her CTA, and is certified as a specialist luxury travel and destination weddings. She has been employed by three agencies and her current agency is in the process of shifting affiliations from American Express to Travel Leaders.
Tracee Williams is the owner of Destinations, a brick and mortar agency located in Fayetteville, AR. Destinations is an award-winning agency specializing in honeymoons, destination weddings, and luxury vacations. She takes pride in not overlooking any detail and instills the same thought process to her specialists.
Jenna Kameka is the owner of a home-based agency in Florida named Outstanding Destinations. Jenna is relatively new to the industry and specializes in destination weddings and honeymoons to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii. She spent her first year in the industry learning and is now focusing in growing her business.