When Don Herbert accepted a travel advisor position at Corniche Travel in 2002, he had selected the agency because of the reputation of its owner, Anastasia Mann, and the family-like atmosphere that she had created at the company. Fifteen years later, Herbert has created a reputation of his own, being recognized as a trendsetter in the industry thanks to his thoroughness, the quality of his work and the attention he gives to his clients. All of these skills have translated to his annual revenue of $2 million.
“I realized very early on that high-end clients would need me to be available at any hour of the day or night. I became one of the first concierge agents offering these services,” Herbert tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “I have also built great relationships with exclusive tour companies throughout the world, which allow me to customize each client’s travel package. I always include a gift for each client, which ties into the theme of their travel.”
Herbert’s clients include heads of movie studios, talent agents, personal assistants, doctors, tech industry executives and people who want 24/7 service. He sells comprehensive travel packages with his specialty being travel experiences to Italy and Africa. He works solely on referral and has built a successful client roster that keeps him busy. Herbert has also embraced social media and notes that his Facebook page has proven to be an effective way to get the word out about his business.
While in college, Herbert worked in insurance but he says he has always been attracted to travel. After graduation, he worked for two and a half years for National Airlines, loading cargo into planes. He then worked for American Airlines for the next 18 years, holding positions in cruise scheduling, as a flight service director, in reservations and support, and helped the airline open its London offices.
Herbert first started working as an independent travel agent for a friend. At the same time he also did volunteer work for an AIDS organization, where he met the manager of Sony Pictures Travel who offered him a job handling their leisure travel. “Prior to this, Sony Pictures Travel did not have a specific leisure travel division. This is where I started working with high-end clients,” says Herbert.
“Travel has always been my dream and I feel very fortunate that I have been able to do it as a career. My travel experiences have taught me so much about life. Years ago, when I first worked for American Airlines, I took my mother to Las Vegas when I was first eligible for travel passes. We had a ball together and from that trip I was hooked,” he says.
In his own travels, Herbert’s last trip was a 10-night cruise on Celebrity Cruises to Ibiza, France and Italy. He then stayed an extra week in Barcelona at the Hotel Arts. Next on the list: Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Portugal. “I will be staying at The Ritz-Carlton hotels in Vienna and Budapest and the Four Seasons hotels in Prague and Portugal.”