Perhaps when a girl grows up on a canal in Florida, with a boat in the backyard, it’s inevitable that she would spend much of her life at sea. But Kimberley Teegen actually loved the planning of her family trips as much as she loved the ocean. And so she became a travel advisor.
“The extensive planning required to make our cruising successful was the thing I loved to be involved with,” Teegen says. “The love of upcoming adventure led me to create itineraries for my own family trips — and then trips for my friends — always adding unique twists as one of my trademarks.”
It wasn’t until her daughter started working in the business, though, that Teegen began to think of applying her loves of planning and cruising to a new career.
After a few conversations and lots of online searching, she was approached by Direct Travel, who reached out and offered her a start. Eventually, she found her niche in the luxury sector, working with Victoria Boomgarden at Direct Travel Luxe.
“Direct Travel Luxe provides a very collaborative environment; Victoria is a wealth of knowledge and has an extensive luxury travel network that she loves to share with her team,” Teegen says.
After four years in the business, Teegen has a client base comprising “a huge host of family and friends and word-of-mouth referrals — a mix of Millennials, young families and young-minded peers who are all requesting a trip of a lifetime, every time.”
Every vacation she plans is individually hand-crafted to meet the client’s interests. “No packaged vacation or cruise itinerary is enough for my clients. They need curated experiences that suit their desires and each detail must be addressed,” she says.
That business plan appears to be working: Teegen’s sales have grown exponentially. She attributes that to being a great listener, never pushing clients or just taking orders, but rather taking a genuine interest in hearing why they want to travel and what they want to bring home from each trip. She still loves researching their destinations and sharing what she finds, “dialing into their most coveted piece of the journey and sharing all the exciting pieces of the puzzle,” she says.
To that end, she spends “endless hours” educating herself by attending conferences and taking online classes to become a travel specialist for destinations including Fiji, Hawaii, Switzerland and Africa.
Heading into 2020, Teegen is focusing on marketing and expanding her customer base. She plans to join the Virtuoso Referral Program, and to promote herself within the network and her community by creating local events, blogging more, sharing more client testimonials and encouraging her clients to send referrals.
On social media, she’ll be sharing her recent trip to Puglia, where she and her family stayed at the Borgo Egnazia; participated in local Masseria cooking lessons and olive oil and wine tastings at a local vineyard; drove vintage cars down single-lane roads surrounded by 1,000-year-old olive trees; meandered through the alleys of beautiful small villages; chartered a yacht and swam in the sea.
Indeed, she’s come quite a way from that boat in her backyard.
“Being a travel advisor has given me the opportunity to connect with people in a unique way, to understand my clients’ heartfelt desires, to travel the world in luxury and still be able to connect at a local level,” she says. “Luxury travel isn’t about looking down from above in your private jet. It’s about connecting at ground level and having eye-to-eye experiences that change one’s life.”