If you ask Jason Sarracini, COO of Tully Luxury Travel, what makes Gerri Grant a trendsetter within the company, his answer is simple. “Gerri has been with Tully for 25 years and is constantly raising the bar,” says Sarracini. “She has explored most parts of the world this year and her referrals, sales growth and overall client base are second to none.”
Case in point: Earlier this year, Grant hosted two events called “The Tully Experiences.” Every year, she sails on a segment of the world cruise where Tully Luxury Travel has close to 100 passengers on the full voyage aboard the Crystal Serenity. To enhance her passengers’ trip, Grant creates luxury experiences, like an overland to Angkor Wat, where she took clients off the ship for three nights, or a one-day excursion to the Great Wall of China for a champagne lunch, which is designed to leave other passengers wondering how they can get those experiences.
Grant didn’t start off wanting to be a travel advisor. Growing up, she remembers traveling back to her home country of Ireland after her family had immigrated to Canada back in the 1960s. “I recall our first family trip back to Ireland, the planning, the anticipation, not to mention new clothes for the trip. The trip came and went, but the memories of getting ready to travel stayed with me,” Grant tells us.
When it was time to choose a career, Grant realized she could work in the industry she had grown to become so passionate about.
She started as a travel counselor selling packaged vacations and airline tickets, in addition to working for a variety of airlines, tour operators and cruise lines throughout her career. “It was working for a tour cruise company that I first met Mary Jean Tully [founder of The Cruise Professionals, which recently relaunched as Tully Luxury Travel]. I tried to sell Mary Jean on the concept of putting some of her business through a cruise wholesaler. I don’t know what happened, but the next day I had a job with The Cruise Professionals. That was 25 years ago and I never looked back,” says Grant.
She says that most Tully Luxury Travel employees are “lifers.” “There is no better place, so why leave?” says Grant.
A key trait of being a Tully advisor means always seeking out for promotions and deals for those clients who have already booked. “I spend hours a week pulling booked files, repricing, sending a note to my clients, telling them, ‘great news you’ve got a better promotion, an extra shipboard credit or your prices have been lowered, etc.’ This may seem strange that I am willing to re-price or downgrade and lose commission, but the client will always remember the goodwill. I am looking out for them, and they look out for me with their referrals,” says Grant.
With those referrals coming in, Grant’s business grows organically from year to year and that’s likely to continue as she sticks to her core business strategy of delivering good service.
“Anyone can sell a vacation and be offered a price,” she says. “We build relationships with our clients, and not every client is the same or has the same needs. We try to understand the wants and needs of our clients, and we offer them choices.”