Miki is in love with travel, culture, event planning, planning destination weddings, and creating Taylor Made Travel Xperiences & Events To Fit Your Lifestyle. She has been an accountant, domestic & international, for over 23 years. During that time she created & implemented a travel program for a software company that grew from 50 employees to over 200. With this experience came her love of working in the travel industry. When the best boss one could ever ask for decided to leave the company Miki was working at, Miki decided she needed more, and needed to feel able to make a difference. So, she left the security of a 6-figure income, became a Global Concierge, and created Taylor & Co. Travel.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Hi Miki, how are you today?
Miki Taylor (MT): I’m doing well, just trying to maneuver our new normal.
TRO: You started your career in travel as an accountant but now have your own travel agency, Taylor & Co. Travel, focusing on “Taylor” made travel experiences. What created this drive to go into business for yourself as an advisor?
MT: When my boss came to me back in 2009 and said, “Hey we need a travel program, I don’t know anything about it, just figure it out”, that was the start of my interest in travel. I created, implemented, and managed their travel program as part of my accounting position and my interest in travel kept growing. In 2013, I started researching the leisure side of travel to learn all I could, thinking that someday that might be an industry I would like to be in full time. At the end of 2014, when the same boss told me he was leaving the company we were working for, I chose not to follow him back into public accounting and stay for the time being where I was. That didn’t last long, as my new boss cheated me out of a year-end bonus, so I jumped and gave a 6-month notice in early 2015 and entered the travel industry full time.
TRO: You’re also a writer for the travel industry, touting a work ethic that lets you break through adversity – particularly while working from home. This can be difficult for some people. What are the main rules you stick to, for maintaining a good workflow?
MT: I like to say I was the pioneer of working from home. I worked from home before working from home was an actual “thing”. I always keep a separate work area. Whether it is an actual office or even just an area that is designated as a “work area” which is where you work from throughout the day. Always keep work hours. That is key to a work/life balance. We all know that there are afterhours emergencies but for general business, don’t send that email at 8pm unless that is within your normal business hours. Keep moving, your health depends on it. My best investment was a tread desk that I work from daily, which is a treadmill with a desktop that allows me to work while walking. It is brilliant. Lastly, take advantage of the perks of WFH. Throw in a load of laundry between calls, prep dinner for that evening before you call that supplier, take time out and take your fur baby for a walk in the middle of the day. This keeps you sane and refreshed to make it through the day.
TRO: You’ve worked with Sky Bird Travel & Tours in being an advocate for their WINGS Booking Engine. How have you been able to adopt its new capabilities?
MT: I absolutely love their WINGS Booking Engine and all that it allows agents to do, especially with the corporate side of the tool. It has allowed my agency to tap into my corporate travel skills & experience and begin acquiring new corporate business, which can be the lifeline to our agencies because of the pandemic. I can compete with large TMC’s while saving my clients thousands monthly in fees because of their platform.
TRO: Sky Bird has made the Advisor’s job much easier with their WINGS Booking Engine – from flights to hotels, to car rentals and destination activities. How has it made building itineraries for clients easier on you?
MT: Sky Bird has listened to advisor’s wants & needs, and have delivered a tool that allows us to quickly and easily create an entire trip all in one place with very competitive prices. The versatility of the platform even allows you to book flights and go back at a later time and add a resort/hotel, car, and activities. One login, one website to visit with a multitude of options for booking.
TRO: Of course, the elephant in the room is always COVID-19 these days. How have you weathered out the storm so far, and what personal advice do you have for Advisors who may be losing motivation?
MT: I won’t lie, it has been difficult. I have spent my fair share of days crying, being angry, thinking about what-if’s. And at the end of it all, I still came back to the same answer: I love travel, I’m great at what I do, and I want to spend many years to come doing just that. With that being said, financially and mentally, it has been a lot. I was lucky that I had a savings because of the best year ever last year, prior to COVID; and that provided me with a cushion. I also took advantage of the available assistance and added a four-legged fur baby to my family in February right before our lives went crazy. He has been the light and joy when everything else was going dark. Without him, I’m not sure where I would be right now. I can also admit that it took a while for me to get motivated again and in the leisure realm. I’m not 100% back yet, because I don’t want to spend hours cancelling what I might book now for the near future, so I have been picking and choosing wisely what I am planning and I am doing very little social media – because I am not ready to dive right back into leisure 100% just yet. But the WINGS booking tool has given me a lot of hope for the future and has inspired me to revamp my website and expand our corporate division.
The first step for agents struggling is to evaluate what they want out of the future and put together a plan for starting over, because that is in essence what we will all be doing. Our industry will come back and will be better than ever, but just sitting around waiting might not be for everyone. So, a virtual job or secondary business is a great way to get by while we are watching the changes take place in our industry and our everyday lives. I used the past months to explore other skills that I have always wanted to look into, such as cookie decorating. Bentley, my fur-baby, inspired me to start another business, My Boho Pooch, which is a 100% handmade pet accessories company. This business will still be tied to travel because I am looking to my favorite destinations to purchase textiles & supplies used in the making of these products and for inspiration in the collections I am offering. It has been fun, a challenge, and has kept my love for travel peaked. I will love having to hire a CEO for My Boho Pooch when travel picks up again. My point in sharing all of this is to share my best advice which is to stay productive in any way possible and stay positive.
TRO: As destinations are steadily opening back up to receiving travelers, quarantine rules varying, there’s a subdued excitement in the air. What do your conversations with clients, and future clients, tell you about the near future of planning great experiences for travelers?
MT: They have actually been really mixed. My largest corporate client, who I also plan her leisure travel, has postponed her yearly trips from 2021 to 2022. This happened a couple months ago, so that was a huge blow. However, conversations are starting again with clients who want to start planning for spring 2021 – with caution. I have clients traveling to Tahiti at the beginning of January 2021, a trip that we are all cautiously optimistic will happen. I feel positive that, as talk of a vaccine continues to grow, that the want/need/desire to travel again will as well, and we will be waiting with bated breath to plan exceptional experiences and will be relying on the expertise of the Sky Bird Travel’s staff to assist.
TRO: How do Advisors find the information for using the Sky Bird WINGS Booking Engine?
MT: If they aren’t currently registered with Sky Bird Travel, they can find the link to register in the upper right corner at skybirdtravel.com. For those who are already registered, you just have to choose “use the new WINGS” button in red once they click login.
TRO: Miki, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We wish you the best in the coming days.
MT: Thank you for having me, it has been my pleasure sharing my thoughts. I love helping other advisors as much as I love planning travel, so I am always happy to share. May we all be back in full swing soon.
For more information on Sky Bird Travel & Tours WINGS Booking Engine.
For more information about Taylor & Co. Travel.