Preferred Travel of Naples
At Preferred Travel of Naples, Linda Walker is in charge of creating travel packages for auctions that benefit her community and local charities. Once there is a winner, she continues her work to help with all the travel arrangements. Preferred Travel’s involvement in local charities has become well known within the community, and Walker makes it a point to attend all the events that she can. It’s all for a good cause but she also finds attendees are always anxious to talk about vacations.
“It’s an opportunity to share my travel knowledge,” she says.
Walker tells us she never says no to a client and her roster runs the gamut; it includes multigenerational families, honeymooners and retirees. She has also arranged incentive trips of 100-plus travelers. Due to the wide variety of her clients, she doesn’t have any particular niche but tells us she usually sticks with a select number of vendors she knows and can count on, as well as Signature Travel Network hotels. Consistency is key when planning vacations, and Walker is most comfortable sticking with the vetted and reliable partners within her network.
The secret to Walker’s success is simple: “I try to be a good listener,” she says. With this tactic, she uncovers what’s most important to her clients and is often able to answer questions for them before any are even asked. Walker also utilizes any technology available to help keep track of due dates, follow-ups, appointments and the like. She gives a shout-out to Signature’s Cruise Track and Client Reach for making her look like a rock star to her clients.
Walker’s introduction to the travel industry came after she moved to Naples, FL from New Hampshire (and there from New Jersey). She had worked as an office manager of a major real estate firm while living in New Hampshire, and remained in the field after her move south. When the recession hit in 2008, she found herself looking for a career change. Walker began working for the owner of a local agency; here, she learned about the industry and tells us, “It opened up my eyes to places and experiences I had never even thought about.” This set her on the path to becoming a full-time luxury travel advisor.
Although Walker considers this the start of her career in the industry, she says she really got into it all seven years ago; the last three of which have been with Preferred Travel, where she “began to spread her wings and really blossom as a travel advisor.” This year, she will total $1.33 million in sales.
Last November, Walker traveled to Antarctica with Lindblad Expeditions where she saw penguins and seals up close. “It was the trip of a lifetime,” she tells us. Walker filmed her journey, which will be used in a mailing with Lindblad, detailing her trip and included with an offer.