Studying film in college with the notion of becoming a casting director, Jennie Reed of Travel 100 Group realized after she graduated that this wasn’t the right career path for her. When her friend Danielle asked what she’d like to do instead, Reed cited being a travel advisor as one dream job. She had no idea that her friend’s “soon-to-be-husband” was Howard Scharf, president of Travel 100 Group, a Northfield, IL-based branch of Tzell Travel Group. “The rest is history,” says Reed, who now works directly under Scharf and managers Rose Wylie and Rosemarie McGuire.
Today, having spent 12 years as a travel advisor, she sells $900,000 a year for an agency that posts $46 million in annual travel revenue. Focusing primarily on customized luxury travel, she sells independent and small-group travel to destinations across the globe. Her sense of humor, passion for travel, upbeat approach and desire to build solid relationships are always front-and-center, and, when planning a luxury vacation for her clients, she says, “I get so much enjoyment out of finding the right fit.”
Diverse in age, interests and travel style, her luxury clients range from groups of friends to honeymooners, young families, baby boomers and multigenerational families. Doing extensive research, Reed crafts authentic local experiences, perhaps an in-home meal in Thailand, a stroll with a local architect in Mexico City or a kids’ scavenger hunt inside Paris’ Louvre. She strives to capture each client’s style and what’s meaningful — covering every detail from start to fin-ish. Thanks to the agency’s Signature Travel Network affiliation and preferred status with luxury suppliers, clients also receive “the extra special touches they may not find elsewhere,” Reed says.
Constantly in meetings with hoteliers, tour operators and cruise suppliers, Reed also manages the agency’s event and marketing efforts, including social media, and she spearheaded the agency’s website re-design. “I believe the management team and I share a vision of how to move the agency forward and I feel privileged to be brought into those conversations,” she says.
Describing the Travel 100 Group as the perfect blend of warmth, expertise and excellence, Reed credits her success to the wonderful team and mentoring received from many top producers. While the world is a big place, “I’m pretty sure my colleagues have walked every inch of it,” she says, citing the team’s encyclopedic knowledge and passion for travel, which they’re willing to share internally.
Growing up in Chicago, she and her husband previously lived in the San Francisco Bay area and then moved to Vienna, an era when she earned her master’s degree in tourism. Returning to Chicago in 2015, they started a family. Today, with three-year-old Owen and eight-month-old Charlie in tow, she says, “we still travel frequently but with a lot more luggage.”
Most recently, Reed participated in a Croatia / Montenegro trip hosted by The Leading Hotels of the World. She inspected multiple properties and squeezed in wine tasting and truffle hunting in Istria. Next up is a London-and-Paris girls’ trip, and she’s re-reading Jess Walters’ “Beautiful Ruins,” a book that could inspire her to return to Italy’s Cinque Terre.
Firmly believing that travel leads to a better understanding of yourself and the world and that it also brings people together, Reed shares these fun facts: “My parents met on a singles’ trip to Greece, my husband and I met on a trip to Israel, and his parents met at the airport.”