Camelback Odyssey Travel
Didi Johnson is all about selling experiential and adventure travel and her strategy is working. This trendsetter for Camelback Odyssey Travel brought in $1.75 million in revenue in 2016 and she shows no signs of slowing down this year.
“I love adding a ‘sense of place’ element with either a unique boutique hotel or a ‘get-your-hands-nice-and-dirty’ experience,” she tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “I encourage my clients to take one day to ‘get lost’ and not be over-booked.”
Over the nine years she has been with Camelback Odyssey Travel, Johnson has developed a robust client list. She has sent six couples hiking and biking through Europe and a family of 11 climbing in the Dolomites. For one lucky couple, and their 14 best friends, she chartered an expedition ship and arranged for a heli-fishing expedition in Chile. Johnson also booked a villa rental in Tuscany for a 60th birthday, sent a family on a road trip through Yellowstone to fish and hike and arranged for one honeymoon couple to set turtles free in Mexico as part of their romantic getaway. A recently arranged safari itinerary included six African countries and Dubai — not bad for this tried-and-true advisor who is also an Accredited Space Agent (ASA) with Virgin Galactic.
In fact, you could say that there is no such thing as a routine for Johnson. “The joy and accomplishment that I feel when my clients return from a trip is unparalleled,” she says, noting that, “It’s imperative to have a connection with both my suppliers and clients. When I see a client post travel pictures on social media I get a real sense of satisfaction.”
On the rare occurrence when something goes wrong, Johnson remains calm and stays positive to find a creative solution.
“There’s always a silver lining; it’s up to me to find it,” she says.
Johnson puts that same great attitude to work when a customer has a limited amount to spend. “I would never turn a client away over budget,” she says. “I would rather challenge myself and make the most of what we have to work with to create an amazing experience.”
Those amazing experiences always start with Johnson asking the client why they want to take the trip. “Travel is not an experience or a hotel. It’s about the relationships that are created when experiencing a destination as a whole. I like to think of it as going beyond the beyond,” she says.
For Johnson, being a luxury travel advisor comes with responsibility. “It’s imperative that we, as travel advisors, start thinking about the consequences of travel. Sustainability is in the forefront in this arena. We need to protect this beautiful world we live in and I am committed to using my relationships to create itineraries that empower local communities to maintain their identity and not change to accommodate the luxury traveler. This starts with me. It is my responsibility to educate and influence my clients for the better good.”