As a full-service advisor, Iris Malik-Ferrelli’s annual sales run about $1.5 million a year. But during the 28 years she has been at Bayside Travel, based in Bronxville, NY, she has learned it’s not just about the money. “Over my years at Bayside, I have come to realize that it is not just about making great sales,” Malik-Ferrelli tells us. “My success lies in my ability to forge great relationships. I am truly interested in my clients’ vacation successes. My commitment to their satisfaction is why I continually earn their trust.”
Malik-Ferrelli has traveled extensively and she feels that experience guides her to advise her clients on their vacations; she also feels that the agency’s affiliation with Virtuoso has been a tremendous benefit. “With the help of our dedicated Virtuoso suppliers, I have deep resources that allow me to reach out all over the world with confidence,” she says.
She’s just returned from Israel where she attended her first grandchild’s bar mitzvah at the Wailing Wall. “We stayed at the beautiful King David Hotel in Jerusalem, and then toured the rest of the country extensively. This was my first visit to Israel and I was truly amazed at how peaceful it is, despite all we hear about unrest in the Mideast. Every time I return from a trip, I realize that there are still so many places to see, so many experiences still ahead,” she says.
This trendsetter was not always a jetsetter. Thirty years ago, Malik-Ferrelli was a full-time mom in Bayside, NY.
“I had been a certified elementary school teacher before I had my children, yet I felt that teaching was not my true calling,” she admits.“I worked at a local clothing store across the street from the original Bayside Travel agency, and quickly learned that I really liked to sell.” She started working at Bayside Travel part time for the original owner and stayed on board when Barbara Nichuals bought the agency. She had definitely found her calling and has seen many changes over the years.
“The travel industry has seen radical changes in the way business is done, mainly due to the Internet. While there are travelers who would rather plan and book their own trips online, I believe that the Internet has actually stimulated more business for our agency,” says Malik-Ferrelli. “There is so much travel information to absorb online, and the Internet is so impersonal. At Bayside Travel, we all provide intensely personal service. In many respects, our services are more valued today than ever.”
It’s likely that Malik-Ferrelli’s perspective on what travel can do for a person drives much of her success.
“Travel is unique, personal and incomparable,” she says. “Nothing can take the place of personally navigating the canals of Venice, riding a camel in the desert, dining atop the Eiffel Tower,” she adds. And while she has many hobbies such as reading, needlepointing and knitting, travel remains her passion. “For me, conveying this passion to my clients is the key to being a good travel advisor,” she tells Luxury Travel Advisor.