The iconic “God is in the detail” phrase offers sage advice that paying attention to small things can result in big rewards. That’s the professional mantra of Addison O’Conner, travel detailer, Kathleen Stahl Travel, Des Moines, IA, who says, “I’m incredibly detail focused” in crafting high-end FIT leisure trips for luxury clients, corporate travelers and large groups. Working with clients/accounts who deliver an estimated $4 million a year to the agency’s $10 million or so annual revenue, she’s been a luxury advisor for less than two years, an impressive start.
“I pay attention to small details every step of the way to ensure everything is as smooth as possible,” O’Conner says, adding that she often works a bit slower but rarely makes mistakes. She also puts in many extra work hours every week to ensure arrangements are perfect for clients. “It may be time-consuming for me, but it saves them headaches during their trip, and I know I have no worries once they depart,” she says.
Most of her clients are 55-plus, many are CEOs or in the movie business, while others are successful people in general. They hail from throughout the U.S. and a few live abroad. Her drive to fight for these clients and being so detail-oriented has resulted in her being tapped as the agency’s employee who reads/reviews potential group contracts — noticing any concerns and asking questions. “One of my co-workers would joke that, ‘If there is any typo in a contract, even one letter or punctuation mark, Addison will catch it,’” she quips. But it’s precisely that attention to detail that’s resulted in some renegotiated contracts.
Spending her childhood and teen years on a farm near Riverside, IA, O’Conner today lives in Des Moines. After college (majoring in mathematics and Spanish), she spent two years with the non-profit Up with People, traveling the globe 24-7. Today, she credits her mentor Kathleen Stahl, the agency’s owner, for her achievements as a luxury travel advisor, emphasizing that “without her, I wouldn’t have such incredible connections with suppliers and clients. She is the reason for my success.”
O’Conner, who enjoys dining out, taking long walks and attending events of Young Professionals Connection of Des Moines, says referrals constitute 95 percent of her business. Clients are impressed with such agency partnerships as the Four Seasons Preferred Partner Program, Belmond Bellini Club, Dorchester Collection Diamond Club, Abercrombie & Kent 100 Club, Signature Travel Network and others. “Clients greatly appreciate that we have those strong relationships,” she tells us, “and that is one of the reasons they keep coming back for more trips with us.”
She recently traveled with the Signature Educational Journey to Russia with A&K; one highlight was the ballet performance during afternoon tea at the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya. Also traveling with A&K on an African leisure trip, she ventured to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana, where she “found Sanctuary Chief’s Camp to be my absolute favorite” accommodation, describing the service there as “impeccable.”
Journeying to South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, O’Conner also cherished the Royal Malewane experience. It’s easy to see why. Upon her arrival, 15 elephants were at her suite’s personal plunge pool, so she just soaked up the safari aura: “I spent an hour sitting next to them,” she says, “drinking the welcoming champagne and simply basking in happiness and gratitude.”