Kelly Bergin served as vice president of business development for OASIS from 2009 through 2014 after spending over 25 years in the travel industry. She was recently promoted to President, responsible for helping new sellers of travel launch their careers and aiding established agents in growing their business as successful entrepreneurs.
The travel industry veteran owned her own leisure travel agency in Salt Lake City for seven years and previously worked as a business development manager for both Princess Cruises and Funjet Vacations prior to that.
After moving to South Florida, Bergin became briefly involved in the real estate industry working as a Regional Sales Manager for a technology company offering marketing and website solutions. The company was sold and Kelly’s love of travel led her back to the travel industry to establish OASIS, one of the fastest growing host agencies in the country today.
Bergin serves on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH), the agent advisory board for Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the leadership committee for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA). She was recently named godmother of the new Emerald Waterways Starship, the Emerald Dawn, to be christened in Budapest, Hungary on August 21, 2015. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University, she and her husband Michael reside in Boca Raton, Florida.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You’ve always had your hand in the travel agency universe in one way or another during your career. Tell us how you became involved with OASIS.
Kelly Bergin (KB): In the beginning of 2009 I had just left a job with a real estate company and knew I wanted to re-enter the travel industry. As they say, once in travel, always in travel. I had spent most of my career in travel and wanted to return to the industry I loved. I answered an online ad for a travel agency, not knowing they were located 10 minutes from my home. When I visited with the CEO Lee Smolinski, he discussed his idea of adding a host agency division to his 22 year old agency. His ideas were new and innovative and I was intrigued. When he mentioned that the agency was a member of Signature Travel Network I knew this new host agency would be a home run! I started a week later and we created OASIS.
TRO: Tell us about your role at OASIS.
KB: When I started with OASIS my role encompassed everything, except accounting. I was the ad agency, the sales force, the support team, and the training department. As we have grown over the last 6 years to 600+ agents we have added staff to help with these various jobs. In fact, we just added a national sales manager and a special services manager to the team. It is now my responsibility to ensure that our team is motivated, helpful, and enjoys what they do. I also know that we need to keep OASIS fresh by creating new programs and tools for travel professionals to implement in their businesses.
TRO: How is OASIS different from other host agencies?
KB: There are a number of differences, but two big ones come to mind. The first is the way we pay commission to our agent affiliates. With preferred suppliers they receive the entire commission minus a small processing fee. This fee usually equals 4 – 8% of the commission earned. This means the agent receives 92 – 96% of the commission vs. 50, 60, or 70%, which is typical with other host programs.
The second big difference is the marketing support and system that our agents can access. This program allows agents to brand their business. It includes a customized website, client specific emails and print marketing. It is automatic so it works while the agent is researching, selling, and managing bookings. It quite frankly is the best marketing in the industry for independent travel professionals.
TRO: What benefits can OASIS offer travel agents that they may be lacking in their current host agencies?
KB: Our agents get to keep more of their hard earned money. They can take advantage of our membership with Signature Travel Network which offers cruise and hotel amenities such as private car and driver for their clients. Our annual conference and tradeshow are both free and include fabulous training, networking, and most meals. We have big buying power and influence with suppliers, but a small feel. Agents will not feel that they are one of thousands. And if an agent wants to grow their business they need to market. As I mentioned before, we can definitely help with that.
TRO: You were recently named godmother to Emerald Waterways’ newest ship, the Emerald Dawn. How did it feel to get the call that you had been chosen to be godmother of the Emerald Dawn
KB: I had met the owner of Emerald Waterways, Glen Moroney, the month before when he visited our office with Richard Hickey, our Regional Sales Director. And then the night before “the call” I saw Richard at a local ASTA event where we talked for quite awhile. So when Richard called the next day I was wondering why, never imagining he would ask if I would like to be the godmother of the new Emerald Dawn. Of course, I said I would be honored. I am very excited to be part of a company that represents the best of what our industry has to offer.
TRO: For those who aren’t familiar with the role of a cruise ship godmother, what responsibilities does that title entail?
KB: I never imagined that I would be asked to break a champagne bottle against the hull of a ship, but that is one of the duties. How fun is that!! Historically a godmother is invited to bestow good luck and protection over the ship and to all that sail aboard. Fulfilling this duty and enjoying this new ship with the crew will be a real pleasure. I began river cruising in 2002 when very few people in the U.S. knew about this type of cruising. I remember telling my husband that river cruising was going to be the next big “thing” in travel. I called it right and it has become my favorite type of vacation. So I also consider it my responsibility, now more than ever, to promote river cruising and this stellar brand Emerald Waterways.
TRO: What is your favorite travel destination to date?
KB: Any place a river cruise takes me.
TRO: What is on the horizon for OASIS?
KB: If I told you, I’d have to kill you! Really, we have lots of things going on at OASIS per usual. Our new consumer cruise booking engine that agents can add to their websites will be coming out the last quarter of this year. We are just beginning to offer our agents free pre & post hotel stays and airfare credits for their clients on many of the cruises we offer as well as interest free installment payments for their clients at time of final payment. We want to be able to offer something to our agents that cannot be shopped in the market and this increases their value to their clients. And because we get so many inquiries from individuals wanting to learn how to become a travel agent we have just rolled out our New2Travel program. Stay tuned!
For more information on Kelly Bergin and OASIS, visit them online at www.oasisagent.com.