“I believe I am coming into the business with a fresh pair of eyes and a different approach to help build the business,” says Alyssa Schaier of Courtyard Travel, a Great Neck, NY-based travel agency with an annual sales revenue of over $18 million.
Schaier, a New York native who has been with Courtyard for just 16 months, has an extensive marketing and corporate public relations background that she says is her biggest asset when it comes to growing her travel business. She’s worked for a diverse range of companies, including Pepsi, MTV Networks, Women’s Wear Daily, and more, and she uses that experience to navigate a rapid shift in the travel agency business model. “Previously, the industry was ‘reactive’ — typically clients didn’t have access to destination and hotel contact information so they relied on agents and advisors,” says Schaier. “In order to build a viable clientele today, you have to be ‘proactive.’”
Schaier sells leisure travel to affluent families in the Westchester area with annual incomes of over $500,000, as well as to groups through corporate marketing efforts.
“On the corporate side, I focus on creating unique travel programs and synergistic marketing opportunities,” Schaier says. “In other words, I develop joint promotions for companies that share similar demographics and psychographics. As the developer of these travel programs, Courtyard becomes the exclusive travel agency for these events.”
Schaier says she tries to spend no more than one day per week in the office, spending the rest of the time acting as an ambassador promoting customized group travel experiences. She hosts themed on-site events catering to a specific audience where they live and breathe — think developing golf trips to Scotland with golf pros at country clubs, attracting members through signage, e-mails, social media and contests.
“The on-site promotions provide an opportunity to meet and build trust with new clients,” says Schaier. “This rapport also allows me to understand their needs and lifestyles for future vacations.”
Schaier plans to grow her business by developing more marketing opportunities to create joint travel programs for companies with consumers who have similar demographics and psychographics. “We’re looking for marketing partners to sell travel to our clients,” Schaier says. “We are all about service, providing amenities and travel experiences that can’t be replicated on ‘cookie-cutter’ travel websites.”
When she’s not traveling or selling travel, Schaier enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, spinning (she is a certified instructor), kayaking and skydiving. This active trendsetter was recently wowed by a trip to Thailand, calling the country the most beautiful place she had ever experienced. “I still miss the aroma of fresh jasmine and the taste of mangosteens, a fruit native to that region of the world,” Schaier says.
She says she’s enjoying her new career and drawing from her past to grow her business. “My marketing background has been instrumental in reaching out to new clients and developing promotions, group programs, corporate marketing and travel initiatives,”she says.