Bear & Bear Travel
Efua Southern is no stranger to global travel, having grown up in the Middle East, later attending boarding school in Oxford, England and spending a year teaching English in China. After graduating with a degree in psychology from Durham University, Southern spent 15 years working and living in London; she scattered several vacations around the world to work and travel to places such as Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, Costa Rica, Peru, Japan, South Africa and finally the U.S. It is through these experiences that Southern discovered her true passion for travel, driving her to make the career switch to becoming an agent where she has found great success.
What makes Southern such a superstar in the industry is the fact that with only six years of experience working professionally in the field, she has managed to accumulate approximately $5 million in annual revenue at her current agency, Bear & Bear Travel in New York.
“My real passion for travel and my unending curiosity about the world means that I have traveled extensively. Having traveled at both ends of the scale — from backpacking to ultra-luxury — I have a deep understanding that it is the experience that can make or break a trip,” she tells Luxury Travel Advisor, adding, “This also means that I can ‘think outside the box’ and offer creative itineraries and solutions to challenges. I am focused, driven and very detailed. Even if I have personal experience in a destination I am never afraid or too proud to ask for help as I believe that there is always more to learn.”
Southern’s clientele is made up of ultra-affluent American families, most often the CEOs of major corporations, banks and professional sports organizations. She offers detailed, creative itineraries for destinations near and far, and makes it a point to work with tour operators who understand deluxe clients. She also specializes in adventurous and exotic travel. “I love finding new ways to experience well known places and introducing new destinations to clients. The challenge is to offer new and unique experiences while still offering a high level of luxury,” Southern says.
Southern also believes that what makes her stand out at Bear & Bear is the fact that she has become a “trusted pair of hands” for her managers. “They can give me any trip and know that I will communicate eloquently, inspire confidence in the client and put together a trip that matches or exceeds their expectations. Jody and Steven Bear also know that I completely understand and agree with their work ethic. We do whatever it takes to make the client happy and we have no ego,” she explains.
Traveling more is something Southern sees for the future.
“As I have a young child, I have not traveled as extensively as usual, limiting my trips to England, Bahamas, Costa Rica and staying within the U.S. However, prior to my daughter’s birth we visited Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jordan and the Seychelles.”
Southern currently resides with her husband and young daughter in New York City.