Kim Shannon has always had a knack for thinking outside the box. She began her career in the commercial interior design field, developing solutions for office spaces. Her creativity allowed her to become very successful in her position; however, Shannon had always possessed a passion for travel. In 1995, she visited a small travel agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to book a cruise and on coming back from a wonderful vacation, she was driven to return to her travel agent. She began volunteering in the evenings at the agency after getting off work from her “real job.”
“I wanted to learn all that I could about the travel industry,” Shannon says. “Eventually, my interior design business development position moved me to Kansas City to start up a new territory. Several years later, I crossed paths with All About Travel, now known as Acendas, which is when I made the career change to become a travel professional on a full-time basis.”
Now in her sixth year as an advisor at Acendas, Shannon uses many of the skills she acquired as an interior designer to create unique and memorable travel experiences. With an eye for detail, she makes it a point to take a consultative approach with clients, making her a trendsetter in designing honeymoons, destination weddings and family travel to the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii.
“It’s about listening to clients, and then determining their needs and expectations for the trip,” says Shannon, who believes the focus of the travel industry should be on value, which she measures in memorability. “When shopping for luxury products of any sort, whether high-end interior design products, a new car or house, clients really want to be upsold. Perhaps that’s even more important when it’s an intangible product such as travel. They can always say ‘no,’ but nothing is more frustrating than not being offered the next ‘something better’ and finding out later, like during your trip, that there was something better available.”
Shannon’s consultative style of selling travel has been met with notable success, which is apparent in her annual revenues of $1.5 million. She also credits the support she receives from her Acendas teammates for marketing, invoicing, day-to-day operations, technology and the agency’s client-tracking system as a key to her accomplishments as an agent. During her tenure as a designer, Shannon worked very closely with a sales team and her ability to operate in a collaborative group has carried over to her current position.
Gary Davis, president of Acendas, says Shannon’s experience in professional travel planning and previous interior design work offer a unique blend of creativity and organization. “She is the ideal travel advisor for couples and families looking to plan a special event or just get away somewhere warm and beautiful,” says Davis.
Apart from travel, Shannon enjoys music and singing, spending time with her husband, family and “baby,” an Australian Shepherd named Miss Attitude.