Versatility is definitively one of the most important traits a travel advisor must possess for both success and longevity within the industry. Robin DeVaughn of All Horizons Travel, which just became a Frosch company, has seen the industry change drastically since she started, and throughout her tenure, she’s remained a top producer for her agency. “With the Internet and abolishment of airline commissions, I knew I had to establish a niche that would create more revenue and success,” says DeVaughn, who is based in Los Altos, CA. “Over the many years that I have been an agent, I have had to re-invent myself several times.”
In an industry where excitement about a product is just as, if not more, important as the sales pitch, it’s imperative to find a space where you’re comfortable. DeVaughn took an introspective look, and from there she found her sweet spot and solidified her role within her company.
“Because my travel passions are stays in great European hotels and cruises on small luxury ships, I knew that this was the niche that was perfect for me.”
So she changed from focusing on air travel and FIT experiences and shifted to cruises, often bookended with stays at luxury hotels. It’s for this reason that when DeVaughn travels, she tries to become very acquainted with the hotel rooms and staff.
Wherever she goes, she makes certain to visit hotels that are on her own and her clients’ bucket lists. Hotel inspections are her highest priority on every trip. The better she knows the hotel and its staff, the better she can sell it to her clients. “While staying at these hotels … I make an appointment with the sales manager to see the rooms, and while on tour, I take notes on the rooms I like, which I use to request for my clients,” she says.
Speaking of selling, DeVaughn notes the “soft-sell” approach works best for her. “I am very subtle about selling myself but at the same time I convey my enthusiasm and knowledge of travel in a professional way.”
This June, DeVaughn and her husband spent a few days in Paris and before returning she had to set up an appointment with the sales department at the Ritz Paris to see the completed renovations. Luckily for her, it was the Grand Reopening and she was the first agent to get a tour.
The dedication to take time out of a personal vacation to put in work time is one of the reasons why she has been so successful.
She and her husband recently took a vacation in typical DeVaughn form — with a cruise aboard Windstar’s Sea Breeze before concluding with a stay in Venice at Hotel Ca’ Sagredo and at Hotel Splendido in Portofino.
Outside of travel, one of DeVaughn’s interests is tennis. In fact, she says approximately 85 percent of her clients are her fellow tennis club members and their referrals, displaying a good blend of personal and professional life that often marks the sign of a good trendsetter.
It’s been 40 years and multiple agency changes since DeVaughn got her start selling travel with her mother’s company straight out of college (when she thought she would work for an airline), but everything has come full-circle for her. “My current office … is in the very same office building on Main Street where I worked in my mother’s agency many years ago,” DeVaughn tells us.