A big “hello” from Tulsa, Oklahoma – where it is currently colder than it should be, and farther from the tropics than I would like it to be.
First I’d like to say that I am honored to be writing for the TRO Travel Agent Diaries. I am in great company and hope to live up to my current and past colleagues!
Before I go into “my innermost travel life” details, let me start by providing a background of where I started, and it has nothing to do with travel. When I started my working career I would have never imagined that I would end up where I am today. It wasn’t a thought, a goal, a dream or on my radar in any way. I have an undergraduate degree in Accounting. I hold a CPA license (inactive now) in 2 states and have a Master’s in Business Administration. I am a details and numbers person by nature, not just because I have those degrees and work experiences. It’s just me, how I operate and understand everyday life.
I started in public accounting, moved on and up to corporate finance after 5 years, where the pace was much faster, but the pay and benefits even better. I then moved from finance to IT, which has really helped to shape the way I operate my business today. Somewhere during my corporate years I was “bitten” by the so-called travel bug. I started traveling for meetings, training and conferences and wanted to travel more. I got my first taste of the Caribbean in 1999 and was hooked. At this point a career in travel was still not on my radar or a thought; but I fell in love with the pristine beaches, stunningly crystal clear ocean and warm breezes. I felt and immediate connection and knew that someway, somehow I would be back and possibly live there one day. I would travel to the various areas of the Caribbean over the coming years and loved it each time.
Fast-forward 8 years in the corporate world and it’s time to get married! I didn’t want a large, traditional wedding. My husband and I wanted something that was a reflection of our personalities, where our families could be involved, but it had to include a tropical setting, beautiful beach and turquoise water. A destination wedding was a perfect choice so we decided to get married in Punta Cana. Though I was still not in the travel industry, this would be my very first mental “spark.” I just didn’t realize it yet. Just over a year later we welcomed a baby girl and before she was born I knew that I didn’t want to work full time outside the home. After much soul searching, brainstorming and planning I decided to leave my corporate job and start a home-based travel agency. In 2006, as I sat 7 months pregnant, Travel By Cannon was born (my original company name). It was a very slow start with the challenges of a newborn and starting a business from scratch. Within two years, we moved from New Jersey (my home state) to Oklahoma. Business suffered a bit as I didn’t have as much time to devote, but that slowly changed. Once we were settled I decided to change my strategy. Being in a new city, where I knew very few people, I had to ramp up marketing, build relationships, and choose something that would set me apart. As I was trying to re-brand my business and get the word out, I was quickly reminded of the frustration I had when planning my own destination wedding and honeymoon. All of the uncertainties, not knowing who to contact, where to start and the stress that came with it. With the same pain and frustrations that I felt, I couldn’t be alone. There certainly were others out there and I wanted to help bridge the gap and fill the need. I joined a local group of wedding professionals, started having booths at bridal shows and advertising in local bridal magazines. This changed everything!
My passion and hard work has now evolved into what my agency is known as today, Honeymoons Designed, where I focus on helping busy couples customize unique, off-the-beaten path honeymoons and destination wedding experiences. I am looking for those unique, more boutique and authentic experiences and plan each honeymoon and wedding as if it was my own. I love meeting new couples, sharing in their excitement and seeing their dreams come to life! Knowing that I am sending them to a destination that will blow them away makes it even better.
It’s been almost 9 years now since my major career change and I can honestly say with all of the struggles, frustrations and changes over the years, I love what I do! The connections I have made in the wedding and travel industry, around the word, mean so much to me, as many have become personal friends. It’s all in a day’s work, but the passion shines through and I continue to build dreams one travel experience at a time.
Stephanie Cannon is the owner of Honeymoons Designed, a home-based agency located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been a professional travel consultant since 2006 and specializes in Romance Travel. Her focus is on customizing unique, authentic and unforgettable experiences. Most of her client base consists of couples celebrating a honeymoon, destination wedding, anniversary, or vow renewal. She is a recent Certified Tahiti Specialist and currently enrolled in the CTA program.