“I never want to become a travel factory,” says Meredith Broder of Avenue Two Travel.
Growing her business is one of her top objectives — and it’s grown about 30 percent annually since she entered the business — but Broder insists that her connection with her clients, which allows for a more personalized vacation, remains her number-one priority.
Broder joined Avenue Two Travel in 2008, at the height of the recession and one of the travel industry’s lowest points in recent history. Nonetheless she has found ways to succeed. One of them is considering the wishes of the clients when booking trips for them, but never hesitating in pushing them in another direction when she feels they may be misled by an online review, for instance.
“I love to have my clients try things they may never have considered. It’s exciting to take them outside of their comfort zone and convert vacationers into travelers. I am brutally honest and my clients appreciate the candor, especially once the trip is over and they understand why I made the choices I did on their behalf,” Broder says. “In fact, sharing the memories once the trip is over has proven to be just as meaningful as the collaboration during the planning stage. While the embers are still glowing, it’s fun to generate a spark for the next adventure.”
Before entering the travel industry, Broder earned a degree in communications from Syracuse University, following which she became a publicist for nine months. She then took a hiatus for a full winter season in Aspen, CO, and a summer of hopping across Italy, Turkey and Greece. She followed that up with three months in Australia. “After doing an Outward Bound in Queensland, I continued to explore independently, just fascinated with the Aboriginal culture. I came home when I ran out of money,” says Broder.
She reports that her background in public relations is really her foundation for planning travel. “The art of crafting stories, targeting the right audience, and generating a buzz really translates well in the travel world. There is a direct correlation to genuinely focusing on the client, learning about what gets them excited, and what makes them frustrated, then weaving in their passions and wish lists to match them with the right destination, hotel and experiences.”
And the best way to accomplish that, according to Broder, is to maintain just as strong a relationship with her suppliers. “I guess my niche is matchmaking,” she says. “I can’t be an expert at everything travel — but I can confidently connect with an expert!”
The mutual respect between advisor, supplier and client is the “secret sauce” she says. When that respect exists, it allows advisors to function at peak performance.
Recently, Broder was tasked with maximizing accumulated mileage for a couple. She redeemed one-way tickets just before an announced mileage adjustment. The couple flew to Hong Kong, stopped at Yogyakarta, Bali and Sumba before heading to Dubai.
“While this is a job, my career is also an organically grown passion. I love that I can experience the world with my family, and work to provide those experiences for my clients, too,” says Broder.