For Gretchen Macknight of Perfect Honeymoons, working with her clients is a chance to revel in the great milestones of life. “Celebrating life is a great reason to travel,” she says.
Macknight has been a travel advisor at Perfect Honeymoons, a $3 million agency and member of Signature Travel Network with locations in Washington, DC; Charleston, SC; and San Diego, CA, since 1995. She initially wanted to be a pre-school teacher, an ambition that lasted until her early 20s, when she became a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics. While on maternity leave she decided it was time for a change and, since travel was in her blood — her parents had worked for the airlines — she took a travel agent course from Carlson Wagonlit Travel and made the jump into travel industry. Her first job was at a brick-and-mortar agency in January 1995, just six weeks before the first airline commission caps were introduced.
Macknight’s clients range from Millennials to Baby Boomers, and they come to her for help in celebrating honeymoons, anniversaries, babymoons, family vacations, reunions and destination weddings. Many of them are introduced to her at bridal shows or wedding events.
“I have been participating in those types of shows longer than I have been selling travel,” she says, referring to her days as a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics, when she attended her first consumer event. “They are a terrific way to keep a fresh stream of new clients coming though your door.”
Macknight attributes her success to her love of what she does. She is careful, however, to only sell and promote destinations and accommodations in which she has complete confidence.
“If what my clients are asking for hasn’t been experienced by me personally or vetted by one of my trusted tour operators or DMCs I tend to stay away,” she says.
Those tour operators and DMCs also act as Macknight’s support system. “You can’t deliver the best vacation or honeymoon if you are not also working with the best,” she says. “I’ve worked hard to cultivate and maintain long-standing relationships in those areas. They help me deliver more than my clients ever dreamed of and it means the world to know that if something goes wrong they are there to assist in making it right.”
Looking ahead, Macknight plans to increase her business by branching out into social media, video blogs and more consumer shows, as well as by hiring an assistant. “I want to stay focused on the personal one-to-one time and automate or delegate the rest,” she says.
Also on the docket are trips to Fiji and Tahiti. Macknight also plans to visit Spain, Italy and Greece in the near future.
“Work is my vacation, vacation is my work,” Macknight says. “I love my job.”