“Many people in our industry profess to be destination specialists — Cassandra Bookholder truly delivers on that description,” says Shelby Donley, owner of Camelback Odyssey Travel. “I never touch anything in Australia or New Zealand without checking in with her, because her insight has saved our team, or turned something average into something extraordinary.”
Bookholder, who has been a luxury travel consultant with Camelback for over a decade, sells to a wide range of clients, including Millennials, young families, families with college-aged children, multigenerational families and retirees. She is especially known for selling travel in Australia and New Zealand, particularly food and wine or adventure experiences.
“I am quite proud of the unique experiences and custom itineraries I come up with for that part of the world,” Bookholder says.
To do so, Bookholder draws on her experiences growing up in the region. Born and raised in Australia, she gained a degree in tourism management while living in the country; after meeting her husband in the United States and moving there to be with him, she began working for Four Seasons.
“I loved seeing the behind-the-scenes of the hotel industry,” says Bookholder. “I feel that my time at the Four Seasons really helped give me a base of what a luxury traveler is like while on vacation…sometimes as a consultant we forget that the traveler is different while on vacation rather than their usual business / booking mode.”
Bookholder says that she designs itineraries to be incredibly specific to her clients’ interests, with a particular focus on children, in the case of family travel.
“Having children of my own, I know that I’m not going to have a good day unless my kids are having a good day,” Bookholder says. “I really want to make sure that every family member is excited about the adventure planned for them.” Listening to how clients react to the options she presents to them, Bookholder says, is key.
She has continued to be able to deliver these ultra-customized itineraries — and be named a Trendsetter — despite a difficult year.
“This past year has been beyond challenging with the premature birth of my twin girls,” Bookholder says. “With two young sons (three and four years) already at home and then a two-month stint of going back and forth to the NICU, I was definitely spread thin.”
Despite that, Bookholder has been able to keep growing her business and delivering for her clients. “This, in turn, brought in amazing referrals and so I have been trying (as best I can!) to keep the momentum building.”
Looking ahead, Bookholder has brought on a new associate, Hannah McNeill, to continue building her business. “Having her on board allows me to look at frequently booked destinations with new eyes,” Bookholder says. “Our goal is to ensure each departure has all the right aspects pulled into it, and continue to ‘wow’ our clients and grow referrals.”