Since Wilma Boyd was on our cover in 2012, Preferred Travel of Naples has seen considerable growth and change. The Florida-based travel agency, which has seen an increase in bookings every year since 2012, earned a gross revenue of $28.75 million in 2014. New business has come in the form of more multigenerational family travel, getaways surrounding milestone celebrations, and corporate travel. Boyd is also seeing longer booking windows and more advanced planning into 2016 and 2017.
When we spoke with Boyd in 2012, she was focused on bringing technology to her business (she had just purchased iPads for the entire staff that year). Marketing has since gotten a stronger focus as the agency seeks to get its name out in the growing Southwest Florida region. "We try to stay current and advertise in print, television, radio, direct mail and e-marketing. It depends on the offer and target audience as to mode of advertising," she tells us.
Consumer nights are big, and the agency just hosted a "Cuba Talk" event which drew an audience of more than 100; 60 percent of the attendees were new to the agency. At Preferred’s annual trade show this year, $21,600 was raised for charity. "My personal and company philosophy is to give back to others. I am the ambassador for Preferred Travel and am frequently out in the community supporting charitable and business organizations. I believe in supporting the community that supports me," says Boyd. She's also hired an air department manager and an additional air specialist and is quite excited about her new Italian concierge who will be onsite in Italy to assist clients this summer, before returning to the Naples office in the fall.
Preferred Travel is creating and escorting an upcoming trip with a local PBS station. “Paris & the Heart of Normandy River Cruise” includes a stay in the City of Light, a seven-day river cruise and three nights in Oxford. Clients will see location highlights from the PBS series “Inspector Morse” and “Inspector Lewis.” However, the highlight of the trip is renting out Highclere Castle where “Downton Abbey” is filmed. Clients will be encouraged to dress in period clothing and have their photo taken while in the castle.
Perhaps the biggest constant between now and 2012 is Boyd’s enthusiasm for her work. “I’m excited to work every day; I love the challenge, excitement and the Preferred Travel family. I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my incredible team,” Boyd says. In reflecting back on her career so far, Boyd says some of the highlights have been being voted “Best Boss” in 2012 and having Olga Placeres, the office manager of Preferred Travel, being voted “Best Boss” in 2013 in Gulfshore Business. Recently, Gulfshore Business also awarded Boyd the Collier County Lifetime Achievement award. “Moving forward in the year,” Boyd says, “we will continue to do what we do best — take advantage of opportunities and grow our business.”