Andrea Malis began her career by taking the business world by storm, literally. Malis was born and raised in the rush of corporate America and by the age of 25, she held a vice president leadership role at a corporation, supporting 27 franchise partners and 120 branch locations. She moved on to become the director of business development for a financial firm with an aggressive nationwide growth strategy, where within one year the sales force grew to produce over $130 million per month in sales volume. When the company was acquired, Malis was ready to find her next challenge.
At the time, she was a travel client of Camelback Odyssey Travel where she met the owner, Shelby Donley.
“Our chance encounter, along with a shared passion for travel and opportunity to challenge expectations of an underserved market compelled me to join forces with Shelby,” says Malis. She’s now been a travel advisor with Camelback Odyssey Travel for five years with a personal annual revenue of roughly $1.2 million. The agency, headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, with another office in Tucson, has an annual revenue of $24 million.
“Today, my special interest is similar to the Jerry Maguire mission statement ‘fewer clients, more attention,’” says Malis. To reach that “underserved market,” Malis typically works with 30 clients per year within the agency’s Private Client division, which launched in 2013. Clients here are an elite group that book VIP services. There’s an up-front and non-refundable fee for the consulting services and clients become members of the division strictly on a referral basis. That up-front fee makes clients think about what it is that they value and desire, and spurs them to actively make decisions, says Malis.
This business model gives Malis an advantage as well — no more “drive-by bookings,” making it easier for her to deliver that exceptional service that affluent clients expect.
“It becomes more about our relationship than the trip itself,” she says.
Malis is also able to help the agency’s supplier partners by working with just a few select clients. She gets to spend more time with each and every traveler and she is therefore able to really “humanize” the client for the supplier. “Even when they’re flying on a private plane to a $50,000-a-night hotel room, I’m constantly working to negotiate a fair balance between what our clients want and what our supplier partners are offering,” she says.
When it comes to negotiating between the two parties, Malis relies on her business experience.
“Not a day goes by when I’m not thankful for the years of experience I have negotiating with high-level executives in a respectful way to the benefit of all,” Malis continues.
“Rarely do I have a conversation with a client when we are not discussing what is the better investment for their personal needs, where should they save and where should they splurge,” she continues.
Looking forward, Malis has plans to attract more travelers by building strategic partnerships with like-minded business professionals with a similar client base. She also hopes to venture more into executive retreats, where she has already had some success. She says she wants to help business professionals bond and grow together over shared experiences.