Originally bon in Peru, Alejandra Elejalde arrived to the United States with her parents when she was 15 years old. After living in Virginia for some time, her family eventually moved to South Florida where she would complete high school. Alejandra later obtained a double major in Business Administration and International Business and Business Management from Florida International University. Inherited with a passion for travel, Alejandra began working for Solar Tours as a marketing assistant. During her time under the guidance of her mentor George Cernat (former Marketing Director of Solar Tours), Alejandra became quickly familiar with marketing and advertising strategies in the travel industry. Shortly after George Cernat stepped down as Marketing Director of Solar Tours, Alejandra was promptly promoted. Currently, Alejandra is pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) at Nova Southeastern University and is proud to be working for a company that truly embraces team work and passion for travel.
Travel Research Online: Coming to a new country at young age must have been very challenging. How do you think these challenges impacted and or prepared you for life? Your current position at Solar Tours?
Alejandra Elejalde: Luckily, in Peru I was enrolled in schools that taught about half of their courses in English. When I started high school here, I didn’t have any language challenges. However, making a life transition to a new country definitely broadens your knowledge on cultures, and helps you learn about other people’s behaviors and customs in different places. At Solar tours, these lessons have helped me to understand the various perspectives and preferences of consumers .
TRO: How has living in another country influenced your view on travel?
AE: Living in different countries definitely sparked my interest to visit more places and destinations. I think traveling makes you understand the world a little bit more; and to me, it is a fantastic feeling to see what makes each country special and different
TRO: What is your greatest travel experience/memory?
AE: I’ve had the opportunity to visit South Korea, and it was definitely a special experience. The most special memory from that trip was when I visited the Bongenusa Buddhist Temple – it was stunning! I definitely left with a newfound appreciation for different religions.
TRO: What peaked your interest to pursue a career in the travel industry?
AE: My family actually owned a travel agency when we lived in Peru. My family was passionate and knowledgeable about the travel industry; so naturally I inhered an interest in the field. After I moved to the U.S., my interest in travel continued to grow.
TRO: You mentioned mentoring under former Marketing Director George Cernat. What did you gain most from this experience? In what ways did this prepare you for your current position and responsibilities?
AE: I think he gave me valuable insight on how to analyze and process the large data that we obtain from this business. There is a lot of information from consumers to bookings, sales, expenses, etc; and learning how to understand that information to make decisions for the future was definitely key.
TRO: You rose in the ranks from marketing assistant to Marketing Director. Describe how you felt, as well as the biggest challenge you faced as you transitioned into your role?
AE: I worked with a lot of dedication; so of course I felt recognized and thankful to be promoted to a new position. I would say the biggest challenge for me was time management. At the beginning, I acquired a lot of new responsibilities and I spent long hours understanding every detail, sometimes working very late. But with time, I gained more experience and I was able to manage my time much more effectively.
TRO: What are some of the challenges you face currently as Marketing Director of Solar Tours? How do you overcome these obstacles?
AE: Making the correct decisions for future advertising and marketing plans can be a challenge sometimes because there are several factors to be considered. However, I overcome these challenges by analyzing carefully the opportunities versus the risks involved.
TRO: What do you enjoy most about your job?
AE: I absolutely enjoy working on new projects with my marketing team. I get very excited when there is a new opportunity to work together and develop a project.
TRO: What would you encourage marketing professionals in the travel industry to prioritize or emphasize? Why?
AE: I would encourage marketing professionals to take the time to travel whenever possible. Being part of the travel industry, it is important to know what makes each destination different and special. By traveling, marketing professional will be able to better promote a particular country, etc.
TRO: You are currently pursuing an MBA at Nova Southeastern University. What motivated you to return to school and earn a Master’s degree?
AE: For young professionals, it is vital to be as best prepared as possible. I was motivated to enroll for my MBA to gain more valuable knowledge that can help me not only withe success of my career, but also with the success of the company I’m so proudly working for.
TRO: What can travelers and travel professionals look forward to from Solar Tours? Anything new or exciting?
AE: Well, Solar Tours started in 1984 only promoting travel to Latin America. Today, our company has grown to include destinations such as Europe, Asia, South Pacific, South America, Central America and Hawaii; and recently we have been promoting travel to the Middle East as well. For us, it is very exciting to be able to have more destinations available on our website.