Meredith Donaldson has been in travel for just three years, but the attention to detail she puts in to every aspect of her job is catapulting her to success. As business development manager at Casto Vacations in San Francisco, she is responsible for selling luxury and local experiences worldwide.
Donaldson’s skills and attention to detail are particularly evident on the business and marketing side of her career. This upcoming year, her department will focus on cross-promotional marketing events, with their first event being a partnership with a luxury fashion stylist in San Francisco and select Four Seasons properties to host a “Travel & Trunk Show” event. Donaldson notes that customer personas are very similar and this type of partnership is an effective way to expand into each other’s customer bases in a unique and social way.
Working for a company that remains on the forefront for incorporating new technology and tools is very important to Donaldson. Slack is her department’s main source of workflow communication, where advisors can post questions about destinations, hotels and Sabre. With this set up, the company is able to jump in with responses and that information is searchable. Donaldson says employees’ access to Slack provides a huge advantage to a new advisor.
“Reading the 2013 ‘30Under30’ Travel Agent magazine article inspired me to seek out a position in the travel industry,” she tells Luxury Travel Advisor. “Knowing new advisors were succeeding at this business gave me the confidence to turn my passion for travel into a career. After graduating with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 2013, I set out west to San Francisco and researched the top agencies in the bay. Youthful exuberance at its finest, I applied for a job opening at Casto Travel even though the position was for an experienced employee with expert Sabre knowledge, none of which I had.”
However, Donaldson says Casto recognized her eagerness to learn, combined with her travel experience and strong research and writing skills, and brought her aboard their team. She went on to note that one of the best parts of her new role at the agency is recruiting and training new talent to join her team. “My mentors were the key to my success and led me to being one of the ‘30Under30’ agents in 2016, so I can’t wait to provide that guidance to new advisors.”
Donaldson also admits she is a bit of a hotel junkie. “I inspect around 60 hotels a year. On my most recent trip to London, I inspected over 12 hotels in a two-day period. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m a hotel junkie! I’m basically a hotel matchmaker. It’s my job to know what hotel will be the best fit for my clients for their particular stay – whether that is a romantic getaway or a kid friendly vacation.”
When she isn’t working or meticulously inspecting hotels around the world, Donaldson is on the hunt for the best local coffee shops. “My Instagram features probably too many espresso ‘shots’ from around the world.”