“I have access to destination specialists that allows me to give my clients a truly authentic experience in foreign destinations,” Colleen Campanella, Gwins Travel – a Division of Acendas Travel, tells us. That, and using firsthand knowledge of the destinations she sells to share “secret,” off-the-beaten-path experiences with clients, is only the beginning of her formula for success that earned her $1.7 million through the first 10 months of 2019.
Campanella enhances these aspects with three essential ingredients: honesty, 24/7 availability and a determination to save her clients’ money. One example of the latter: “The cruise track we use through our consortium, Signature Travel Network, has helped save my clients thousands of dollars,” she says.
“I’m always on social media sharing my travel tips [and] experiences as well as showcasing my clients’ experiences,” Campanella adds. “It doesn’t matter the time of day, I’m always available, which puts my clients at ease. I’m a true full-service agent and I believe that is why I have such a high success rate in repeat business as well as a large referral clientele.”
To help boost the authenticity of her clients’ travels, “I typically use small boutique hotels,” she says. For example, “in Barcelona, I use H 1898, which is steps away from the lively Las Ramblas. Paris: Castille Paris. Ireland: Dromoland Castle, Mount Juliet and Sheen Falls Lodge.”
Campanella began her travel career in 1993 at Maritz Travel Company, where she spent several years escorting incentive groups to destinations all around the world. “As a result … I’ve traveled to every continent except for Antarctica,” she says.
She joined Gwins Travel in 2005 as a travel counselor, quickly learned the nuances of personal and vacation travel, and for the last four years in a row (2015-2018) was named Leisure Agent of the Year. In addition to her personal accounts, she uses her social media skills to “assist our vice president of operations in monitoring this new wave of selling and marketing,” she says.
Campanella works out of her home office in Wentzville, MO, three days a week and two at Gwins’ location in Kirkwood, MO (a St. Louis suburb about 40 miles from Wentzville).
“Gwins allows me the flexibility to work anywhere,” she says, adding, “I truly enjoying mentoring newer agents. I love seeing my co-workers flourish and closing sales. They know I’m always available for them.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Campanella takes time at the end of each year to determine “what I want to do differently for the new year. I reach out to past clients and [suggest] where and what they should try for their next experience.” This sometimes means encouraging them to go out of their comfort zone and try something new and different.
Campanella, who was cruising the south of France, Italy and the Adriatic Coast when we reached out to her, plans to write about the trip, as she often does, and send out a newsletter to her clients. “This will certainly begin conversations with them,” she says.
When she’s not working, Campanella spends a lot of time with her husband and their two tweens. “I come from Irish heritage and married into an Italian family,” she says, “so you could say I have the best of both worlds.”