Meredith Hill of Gifted Travel Network | TravelResearchOnline

Meredith Hill of Gifted Travel Network

 

Meredith-smallMeredith Hill, ex-President of Hills of Africa Travel, founded the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) to empower struggling travel consultants by helping them to connect with their passion again, attract ideal clients, and build a business that makes positive difference in people’s lives.

In 2007, faced with a long-standing struggle of not having enough clients in her travel business, Hills of Africa Travel, Meredith and her business partner were on the verge of closing the company’s doors. Thanks to their determination and efforts the company doubled its income within the first year. During 3 of the most difficult economic years in travel history, Hills of Africa quadrupled its business and was doubly proud of hitting a milestone in 2010, when they surpassed $1.6 million in sales.

Meredith’s deepest passion lies in empowering travel business owners who want to make a difference. Meredith’s goal is to revolutionize the travel industry by helping people connect with their passion again, adopt a mindset for success, get desperately needed support and build successful travel businesses that change people’s lives. Meredith continues to use her gift to blaze new trails and guide her clients to their paths of success.

Meredith has more recently been driven by a mission to help the travel agent finally be seen.  Meredith, along with her business partners, founded the Gifted Travel Network (GTN) host agency in 2013 in an effort to help travel entrepreneurs become more visible.

TRO: Tell us about your role at Gifted Travel Network.

MH: We originally came up with concept of GTN after many, many conversations and feedback from travel agents who said that they can’t find hosts that support them as entrepreneurs. It dawned on us that maybe we need to create that. My role at GTN is to hold that vision of creating a really great home for people who have a passion for travel and want to build their own business around it. Not our business — theirs. I’m also highly involved in creating and delivering the Travel MBA program, a training program for people who are new or feel like they missed a lot of important pieces in their own training program. And I’m involved in raising awareness of the value of a travel professional to the travelling public and marketing to the consumer.

 

TRO: What aspect of travel keeps you motivated as a travel professional?

MH: The fact that suppliers just keep bettering their products and creating better and better experiences for all of us. And exploration. I’m an explorer at heart and I love exploring new places.

 

TRO: Tell us a little bit about the Gifted Travel Network.

MH: GTN is a host agency, but not a traditional host agency; we’re different because we support the entrepreneur. We have two objectives at GTN: 1) provide a place for people with a passion for selling travel to build their own businesses, and 2) execute consumer awareness campaigns that elevate the value of travel professionals in the eyes of consumers.

 

TRO: What are Gifted Travel Network’s teams and how does one become a part of a team?

MH: Our teams are based upon your expected sales, which are reflective of your experience. The Elite Team is generally appropriate for established travel professionals with commissionable travel sales of $300,000 or more per year. The Varsity Team includes a wide range of travel professionals encompassing the spectrum of market specialties and business models; they’re our core bench strength. And our final team will be made up of members of our Travel MBA program. Our commission levels range from 70% to 100%. We don’t steer people in any one direction. It’s their choice as a business owner for what makes most financial sense to them. Agents can learn more about our teams here.

 

TRO: What types of unique services or programs does Gifted Travel Network offer?

MH: We’re really excited about our Travel MBA program, the training program I previously mentioned. We also offer GIFTE membership for GTN members for free. That provides the community and support for their entrepreneurial needs. Membership provides them with marketing advice, strategy, business building, and resources they can tap into that we believe nobody else is offering.

 

TRO: What have you found to be the most useful aspect of Gifted Travel Network for travel agents?

MH: Possibly our supportive approach; when our agents have questions, we get back to them really, really quickly. If there’s a solution an agent needs for his/her business, we try to provide that solution.  We don’t like to say “no” to something that makes business sense, even if it requires some out-of-the box thinking and implementing something new.  We are very agile that way. We’re here to help them build and thrive in their businesses, as opposed to being the pass through for their bookings.

 

TRO: What has been the most rewarding part of launching Gifted Travel Network?

MH: Getting back into being an active participant in the travel business. We’re back in the business of selling travel and that is fun and really exciting for me.

 

TRO: Is there anything exciting in the works for Gifted Travel Network?

MH: We’re launching the Travel MBA program officially on March 17th, and we’re so excited to get this program started! It includes 13 online learning modules that walk participants through how to establish a business where they can really make money selling travel. They’ll get access to experienced mentors who have been in the business for a while, monthly Q&A calls, and hosting through GTN. To learn more, check out http://giftedtravelnetwork.com/TravelMBA.html.

  4 thoughts on “Meredith Hill of Gifted Travel Network

  1. In many of of the videos created by Meredith Hill of the GIFTE travel network, Meredith talks about how many of us are giving a substantial portion of our revenue away to host agencies and how her training course and membership will not only teach us how to get that portion back but also how to increase our revenue. I want to understand how her host agency’s model is different. The MBA program actually keeps much more of the commission than any host agency I’ve ever been part of plus there’s a huge start up cost associated with her program as well.

    Regards,
    Steven Talbott
    Vacation Side Travel
    http://www.vacationside.com

    Toll Free: (855) 822-8747
    Mobile: (615) 579-7026

  2. Hi Steven! Thanks for your comment. Great questions. The Gifted Travel Network (GTN) host model is different as it recognizes and supports its I.C.’s as entrepreneurs. So in addition to all the typical services provided by a host agency (collecting commissions, relationships with suppliers, back office, CRM, etc), it provides additional services and support for helping its ICs to be effective business owners and run a business. GTN provides its ICs direction and support on marketing their own brand, how to have effective operations, establishing and tracking their financial goals, developing a stellar sales and service process, and adopting an entrepreneurial mindset.

    In terms of the Travel MBA program “keeping more of the commission”, I would disagree. I don’t think you are doing an apples to apples comparison. The default commission split in the Travel MBA program is 70/30. For brand new consultants in a structured training program who will be getting 1-on-1 support, this is a very competitive commission split. Also, they have the option to choose a higher commission split, all the way up to 100%, if they like. We leave it up to them. The 70/30 split is the one that doesn’t require a monthly fee (and most people just getting into the business are far more comfortable with that). Many agencies that offer structured training programs take at least 50% of the commission and do not give the brand new consultants an option for a higher commission split.

    As for the “huge” start up cost associated with the Travel MBA program – it’s an investment for sure. But it’s a one-time investment that will save its students years and years of traveling down the wrong path where they aren’t making any money. I did that myself and I don’t want others to do that. Can people get into this business for a lot less investment? Yes, absolutely. But they won’t be getting effective direction and might flounder in struggle mode for 5 years. A better comparison to the up front investment is getting a degree in travel BUSINESS or purchasing a franchise. The Travel MBA up front investment is significantly less than either of these.

    I appreciate your questions and the opportunity to answer them. To your success!

    Meredith

  3. Hi Meredith,

    Shortly after I posted my question, I found my way to the call scheduler on your website and setup some time with Vanessa.

    I think you’re great and enjoy the insight offered by your copy and videos. I simply needed to understand the disconnect between what you’ve stated in your videos and your new business venture because my perception was one of misalignment.

    After spending some time with Vanessa today and reading your response above, I now understand completely and it makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for all you do – keep up the great work and have a fabulous weekend.

    Regards,
    Steven Talbott
    Gay Travel Expert
    http://gaytravelexperts.com

    (855) 822-8747

    Regards,
    Steven Talbott
    Gay Travel Expert
    http://gaytravelexperts.com

    Toll Free: (855) 822-8747
    Mobile: (615) 579-7026

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