Coastline Travel Advisors
Leah Bergner didn’t start off in the travel industry. Her first job was working as a multi-subject elementary school teacher in California; however, she says the experiences and skills she learned in that profession have carried over into her successful travel business. It’s Bergner’s creativity and spunky style of selling travel that make her stand out.
“It was a terrifying moment when I decided to leave teaching,” she says. “I had a ton of debt. I had never left the country and I was trying things out in an industry that was completely foreign to me — but I did it,” Bergner tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “I think the elementary school teacher [who likes stickers and glitter and glue] will always be in me. I like to be creative with marketing. One year I did a ‘Christmas in July’ mailing piece with the Montage and we wrapped the marketing materials up in a package of sorts with gold ribbon and a hand-written note. Now wouldn’t you rather open that ‘gift’ than get another brochure you can toss out with yesterday’s trash?”
Bergner has been with Coastline Travel Advisors for 10 years and it is her creative techniques that set her above the competition. In fact, she was even selected to receive the award of Most Innovative Advisor — Cruise Sales by Virtuoso for 2017. Her own annual revenue is set at $2 million, while Coastline as a whole brings in $50-plus million a year.
“When I was hired back in 2007, I didn’t own a passport — truthfully, I hadn’t even thought about travel nor did I think I would ever have an opportunity to travel the way I’d want to internationally,” Bergner says. “Travel for my family growing up was camping and five people sharing a room at a Marriott.”
Everything changed for her when she met Jay Johnson, president of Coastline, who used to dine on the weekends with his family at a restaurant where she used to wait tables. “Jay would often hear me complain about my teaching career. I just wasn’t happy and it wasn’t what I thought it would be like. One weekend, Jay said, ‘I have a job opening and I think you’d be great at it. What do you think?’ Long story short, I took the job and the rest is history. After Year One of listening and learning from him, I did over a million in sales,” says Bergner.
On being named a trendsetter, Bergner says she believes she was selected because you can’t train someone to be the way he or she is. “It has to be real, authentic and come from within you,” she adds.
Bergner’s next personal trip will be with Peru Empire, a Virtuoso preferred operator. She will make stops in Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.