Becky Robinson, a travel advisor with Departure Lounge, retired from a career with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company when she and her husband moved to Austin, TX to be closer to their grandchildren and to the city’s cultural offerings.
“I was enjoying golf, Mahjong, our friends and the overall retirement experience,” says Robinson.
Then she met Keith Waldon, owner of Departure Lounge, at one of the agency’s consumer events.
“I told him I planned travel for all my friends; he suggested I get paid for doing that and the rest is history,” she says.
Fast forward three and a half years and Robinson is one of the top producers at Departure Lounge, garnering $2.2 million a year.
Her clients are retired seniors and her many friends from her time at Southwestern Bell.
“I started with a few clients and have obtained most of my client base via word of mouth,” she tells us.
Seventy percent of her business comes from selling cruises and adding on pre- and post-cruise land trips. As a service to her clients, she fills in all the cruise guest information forms so all they have to do is pack and go on the trip with a packet of all their final trip details. For this, she uses the Travefy itinerary builder, which includes all hotel confirmations, cruise confirmation, tour vouchers, etc. “With Travefy, you can send an electronic version that the client can load on their phone — my clients really like that,” says Robinson.
She is quite liberal as to the type of travel she books — it could be a Holiday Inn for two nights or a hotel in Europe for 100 euros a night — and sees that as part of the relationship-building process.
“I know when they are ready to book a big trip they will come back to me,” she says. “I have a friend I have booked two trips for and made a total of about $100 in commission but she called a few weeks ago to book a trip for four to Machu Picchu.”
Her efforts have paid off; besides growing a successful business, she was nominated this year for the Virtuoso Rising Star Award at Virtuoso Travel Week. She owes her success to the support of all the advisors at Departure Lounge. “Everyone is willing to help you out with suggestions, or they’ll take care of my clients when I’m out of town. It is such a positive work environment,” says Robinson. “Keith Waldon is always available with advice or support but allows me to do the job and manage my clients in the manner I feel is best.”
She and her husband have taken several cruises this year, including a New England voyage with Silversea and a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2. She’s sailing next on the AmaViola for a Christmas Markets cruise.
Robinson is enamored of her new career. “There is nothing more exciting to me than receiving a text from a client on a trip saying they love the hotel, the cruise, the tour — whatever! Living vicariously through my clients is something I really enjoy and I like making people’s travel dreams come true,” she tells us.