As a 20-year plus travel Industry career veteran Jen Duckworth has worked on both the supplier and agent sides of the business in the roles of Agent, Manager, Sales Representative, Ticketing Specialist, Corporate Agent, and now Special Services Manager.
Her path in the travel industry started in the early 1980’s with an OAG and a Res Card. From those early beginnings at a local agency she moved to a bigger player, American Express, and was one of the first 50 persons asked to service a new product by the name of the Platinum card. That brand had only a vision, and her team developed the rules as the product evolved.
Jen then opened the Western Regional Office for Steigenberger Hotels, traveling the West coast of the U.S. representing the product to agents and participating in trade shows and sales seminars. After the birth of her daughter, she needed a more manageable territory and moved to Morris AIR as the District Sales Representative covering the Southern California market. She facilitated the opening of 2 new airport locations and oversaw sales for over 14 daily flights. Morris Air was purchased by Southwest Airlines, and so Jen returned to the American Express Platinum office in Arizona. She was involved in ticketing, quality assurance, and group air for business and incentive travel.
Jen was recruited by OASIS to use her extensive background in sales, hotel, and airlines to head up the new Special Services department which helps agents with client bookings.
Jen lives in Scottsdale AZ with her husband Dan. They have 2 children (2 of the human variety and 2 of the 4 legged canine type.) They have been desert denizens since 1991 and love the Arizona lifestyle.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What motivated you to change industries from transactions and credit cards to travel?
Jen Duckworth (JD): Actually, my time at American Express was always in the Travel division. I had worked both consumer travel and corporate travel. Kelly Bergin and I have been friends and colleagues for years. She knew I was ready to leave the large corporate life and that I was looking for a new, growing company to be part of. I loved the concept of OASIS and knew I had the ability to shape this new department into another tool that OASIS offers to their agents.
TRO: Tell us about your day-to-day role at OASIS.
JD: My role is to make our OASIS agents’ job easier. The special services desk is a one-stop place for the agents to book air, cars, and hotels. I utilize the GDS system as well as other air consolidators and vendors to offer our agents the best possible fares/routings, hotel, and car rates for their clients’ needs. I also consult with agents on property choices, preferred vendors, and basic travel information on a day-to-day basis.
TRO: What common challenges do you see in the booking process?
JD: As always, there is the airline and hotel availability issue. Agents have to communicate with clients about choices and rates, and then wait for a decision. Clients sometimes do not understand air/hotel availability and the ever-changing fare structures. We are fortunate that our agency is a member of Signature Travel Network, and that can make the hotel booking and pricing an easier process.
TRO: What can travel agents expect when they join OASIS?
JD: Success and Support! I don’t believe that I have seen a more dedicated and committed group of people helping the agents be successful. All day, every day I feel this is the mantra of the OASIS team.
TRO: What kind of education materials does OASIS offer travel agents to help them stay on top of the “next big thing” in the industry?
JD: OASIS agents have access to a plethora of training opportunities. These include the Signature Travel Network certification that familiarizes agents with the incredible booking and marketing tools available from Signature. Other opportunities are the Nolan Burris boot camp and Stuart Cohen’s Group boot camp. Webinars are always available to learn more about suppliers and the educational journeys help agents experience actual destinations and products.
TRO: What is the “New 2 Travel” program?
JD: Like OASIS, New2Travel is unique in the industry. New2Travel prepares an individual to have a fully functioning independent business in as little as six weeks from the time they sign up. The program includes a privately branded, customizable website along with email and print marketing campaigns to jump start their new business. Enrollees also have the flexibility to take longer, if needed.
New2Travel offers many perks that are not available in other programs, including the Signature Travel Network Certification, certifications from the Travel Institute and Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), a 3-day New2Travel Boot Camp in Boca Raton, Florida, as well as the annual OASIS and Signature conference in Las Vegas
TRO: What advantages to joining OASIS do you wish travel agents were more aware of?
JD: We like to say that our OASIS program for independent travel professionals is the best gig in town. If agents are serious about their travel career, then we have the commission structure and the tools to help them earn more money and to grow their business. Agents should be aware that marketing is their most time consuming and difficult task and that OASIS has the best marketing program in the industry for independent agents.
TRO: What is your favorite travel destination to date?
JD: I believe that my favorite has to be Prague. I was first there shortly after the country became accessable to leisure travel and I was enchanted by the Old World City and the glistening monuments over the St. Charles Bridge. It was early December and it was magical.
TRO: What is new and exciting on the horizon for OASIS?
JD: Our agents now have a client-facing cruise booking engine for their websites. It is in beta testing now and will be available to all agents by October. We have some other great announcements about booking management and hotels coming up at our annual training and tradeshow in Las Vegas in November. So stay tuned!
To learn more about OASIS, visit them online at oasisagent.com.