“My years of experience booking travel for a myriad of markets [corporate, non-profit, leisure, group, family, etc.] give me a competitive advantage. Whether it’s booking for a multigenerational family traveling to Africa on their first safari or a fashion brand scouting a tropical location to shoot a commercial, I can do it with knowledge and confidence.”
That’s Thelma Radha Abhyankar, who has nearly 17 years of experience working in travel. Abhyankar partnered with First in Service (F1S) as an independent contractor in September 2013. She tells us she sells corporate and high-net-worth leisure travel, but that her niche is production travel. “In particular, travel to destinations for beauty and fashion commercial shoots,” she tells us. With an annual revenue of $2.5 million, Abhyankar has earned her spot in our Trendsetter issue.
“When I first knew I was going to start working on my own as an independent contractor, I wasn’t sure which agency to partner with. But then Fernando Gonzalez, First in Service’s CEO, flew from New York to L.A. to meet with me,” she says. “I was already impressed that someone would fly across the country to meet me, and then, when I met him, I felt like I was meeting a long-lost brother.” Soon after, Abhyankar flew to N.Y.C. to meet the management and the team, discovering that the agency’s values matched her own. “The number-one priority is the people — those that work for and with F1S, and the clients,” she says.
Abhyankar believes Gonzalez chose her as an agency trendsetter because of her experience and determination to solve the most difficult of problems with grace. She works closely with him and other members of the F1S team to increase her production business, a niche she has mastered over the last five years.
Abhyankar is also selective about the clients she takes on so she can provide them with exceptional service and individualized attention.
“When my clients call or e-mail me, they get me, not an assistant. Not every client referred to me is the right fit for me and perhaps I am not the right fit for them. It is more important to me that a client finds the right agent. I am results-driven, not profit-driven,” she says.
Her last international trip was to London for business; however, she decided to extend her stay, noting that it is her favorite city to visit. “The food is incredible and the city serves as a central departure point to anywhere in the world. I would love to live there one day,” she tells us. “Brown’s Hotel has such a warm feel about it…it feels more like a home than a hotel. The Ned London is probably one of the most impressive hotels I have seen in a long time. You could spend a whole day exploring the different venues in this hotel alone!”
Abhyankar is currently planning her next trip, which will be to Napa, CA after Christmas.