Clayton Vacations’ Bitsy Clayton is a catalyst. So says a skills analysis test administered by her host agency, Cadence. “That means I am typically seeking out new ideas and ways to do things — and am not very shy about talking about it,” she says. That’s a big reason she was chosen as a Cadence Trendsetter, but a thirst for knowledge and an empathetic ear have also contributed to her success.
“I am a lifelong learner and enjoy the education and re-education process. I try to attend vendor presentations [live or webinar] multiple times every week,” she tells us. Also, “to be successful in this business you need true empathy and the ability to listen. Everyone has a different intention for their travel. My job is to decode what they really want to accomplish on the trip. Every trip is different — one size does not fit all.”
A Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science from her home state’s University of Missouri, followed by a job with the Pillsbury Company, seems an unlikely start to a travel career. But having children changed her mindset.
“I decided that I wanted to enrich our family life with travel [so] I worked a few years in ground operations for Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis,” Clayton says. After the family moved to San Diego, she worked as a substitute teacher and volunteer at a school where “a fellow volunteer who was a travel advisor suggested that I might like doing what she did.” As it turned out, she liked it a lot.
“I dove in and started training myself by taking a week-long immersion class with CLIA in Miami and the rest is history,” she notes. That history covers 16 years to date as a travel advisor, the last 11 at her home-based Clayton Vacations, where host agency Cadence has helped her “grow my business beyond my wildest dreams.” She also says Virtuoso membership has enabled her to take her client’s travel experiences “to a whole new level.”
Clayton, a cruise enthusiast, started 2019 on the Rhine River aboard the Crystal Mahler, then cruised the Normandy region with Uniworld this spring, and says, “I will finish the year by taking the Crystal Skye private jet to London and then cruise the Norwegian coast in search of the northern lights.”
A recent land trip to the UK to celebrate a friend’s milestone birthday included a party at the Fulham Beach Club. “[It’s] a fabulous outside space, right in London, where the floor is all sand and there are cabanas and tiki bars spread all around. We also went to an amazingly chic late night bar called Isabel’s in Mayfair.”
Going forward, Clayton plans to focus more on expedition cruising. “This is my own personal passion and I would like to get more of my clients onboard for this type of experience,” she says. “I would also like to specialize in family and adult group ski trips to the Alps, and other locations around the world. Skiing is a big part of my life and I can’t wait to share my amazing experiences with others.”
And when her teenage kids are finally both in college, “I plan to go on longer, more exotic trips, and want to focus my attention first on Asia,” she says.
When not traveling the world, Clayton enjoys hiking, gardening and beekeeping, and is “passionate about food and cooking.”