Richard Engle has been working in the travel industry for 40 years and he’s consistently maintained an energetic and enthusiastic style when selling to clients. His passion for travel is evident in the success he has brought Protravel International, with his own annual revenue set at $5 million. That surely makes him a trendsetter.
“I think the key to my success is that despite my tenure in the industry I’m always looking for new options, fresh ideas, the next trend. I’m not stuck in an era or committed to a narrow way of doing things,” says Engle. “For example, when I attend a trade show like PURE or ILTM, I’m interested in meeting people I’ve never met and seeing what unique items they bring to the arena.”
Engle has the ability to keep in touch with multiple generations. “My staff has two middle-agers and two Millennials, but many of the industry veterans I call my close friends are several years older than me and have a wide variety of experiences under their belts. I need this multi-generational interaction to keep my own thinking sharp and fresh,” he says.
Engle values the human relationship very highly and he makes it a priority to know as many intimate facts about his clients as possible in order to tailor their experiences. He wants his clients to know that he is not just acting and that he is genuinely interested in them.
Engle isn’t shy about his reasoning for choosing this career, either. “I’ve found that I may be unique in blatantly admitting that my first reason for doing what I do is to make a living. This is not my fun little hobby and I’m not here because I just ‘love to travel’, but it’s a very serious career, and the money does indeed matter to me,” he notes. “This is a business and it has to be successful. I definitely want the client to have a good time, and I definitely want him or her to get the best as long as they’re willing to pay for it. But I have to make a good living doing it.”
When it comes to increasing his business, Engle says he is working on ways to communicate more information to his existing client base.
“In business, you have to keep selling yourself and you’re always auditioning. You have to keep telling people what you do because you can’t assume they know it” he explains. “I’m also developing strategies to go after the next generation and keep our client list youthful.” Engle’s team has recently equipped itself to handle some smaller high-end commercial accounts, and is attempting to eventually make it into a smaller division. He says he’s always open to bringing on new teammates who think outside the traditional walls.
Engle’s enthusiastic attitude carries over to his personal life as well. When he’s not selling high-end travel, he can be found training for his next triathlon, running and cycling several miles each week. He also enjoys visiting jazz and blues clubs around Chicago as well as exploring the city’s dining and theater scene.