These advisors we’ve featured recently and in the past represent a unique dynamic of businesses large and small; the common quality is a passion for the business.
A highlight strategy for Barbara Nichuals, president & CEO of Bayside Travel in Larchmont, NY, has been to create two new roles within the agency, a client relations manager and a travel concierge, who plan and execute the details of the itineraries a travel advisor has crafted for their client. The travel concierge is a party planner for those taking celebratory trips; she also secures dinner reservations, spa appointments and cabana rentals. The client relations manager handles travel insurance documents and VIP clients. Nichuals every year successfully hosts a big travel show where affluent clients meet with luxury travel suppliers; it’s turned into one of “the” events of the year. “It’s quite a party,” says Nichuals.
John Clifford of International Travel Management is a passionate hotel aficionado who loves matching under-the-radar places with clients. “So much of what we do as expert advisors is to tell stories and to give our clients a venue in which to tell theirs. A perfect hotel is the base of all your experiences and I’m utterly detail-oriented and fussy about which hotels I hand pick for each trip,” he says. “My goal is to work only with clients who see this partnership as a long-term, trusted relationship. I need to focus on what I love, which is crafting moments in exotic destinations with hotels that I know will inspire my clients and give them life-long memories.”
Joshua Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel, has been all about re-launching his family’s business (see his profile here). His work has paid off. The agency’s new digs are inspiring his consultants to sell more. Advisor Brigitte Feinberg says the new Avenue Two makes her feel more “in the game. When you’re in an office like ours, you feel more professional. Whether in person or on the phone, I’m accepted more quickly and my skills are more readily appreciated. I feel more valuable.”
Larry Martin of Food & Wine Trails in Sonoma County, CA, has a staff of 16. They, along with Martin, handle 3,000 wine lovers a year, who find him online or through one of his winery-sponsored trips. While the bulk of his business is done via wine-themed cruises hosted by vineyard owners and winemakers, the voyages serve only as a platform to introduce clients to land trips that provide wine education around the world. Martin’s mantra is “to offer our guests authenticity and the highest-quality value in the culinary and viticulture travel world.”
Gary Davis, president of Acendas, a $185 million travel company in Kansas City, oversees the agency’s vacation segment, which is a well-oiled machine. Its 15 specialists cover every destination, and each must be certified by a third party, whether through a supplier, a tourist board or other professional entity. Advisors are trained every other month at the agency’s headquarters in a full day of seminars and product updates provided by suppliers. “We use positive reinforcement to encourage our specialists to use our preferred suppliers,” says Davis. “Each time a booking is made with a preferred, the specialist’s name is put in the hat. At the end of the year we draw names from each of our suppliers’ hats and that specialist wins cash or a trip.”
We celebrated Protravel’s Miriam Rand in our May 2006 with a cover feature that paid tribute to this “First Lady of Luxury Travel’s” six-decade career as a travel consultant. We hear Miriam, who has just celebrated her 99th birthday, has been retired for several years and is still living in her own home. We send our salute to this beloved travel advisor and her fabulous career in the business.