Tell us how it all started. Why? What’s the story?
I was retiring my private practice after 26 years in the mental health field. As my daily activity was decreasing, I was doing more cleaning and cooking around the house. It dawned on me that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life picking up after people and cooking. What could I do? So, I thought about what I enjoy most, and knew the answer. Travel! I love to see new places, learn about cultures and meet new people. I especially like to help people. So, being a travel agent fulfills all these loves. Cruise Planners is a full-service travel business, and I have the opportunity to plan more than cruises.
What is your biggest success so far?
I’m networking! Sounds silly, but I’ve spent 26+ years listening to people. I really don’t like to put myself out there. I’m much better being invisible, and listening to others’ stories. No surprise, huh?
What is the biggest challenge in your industry? What are you doing to deal with that?
There isn’t a wrong way to use your vacation days (unless it’s to get surgery!). My biggest challenge, though, is finding people who want to get away from it all and regroup. This is different than taking a couple of vacation days to work on the yard or drive to the beach. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
My ideal clients are those seeking a break from their typical routine to rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit. That’s what a vacation does, and by doing so, your vacation helps you handle stress more effectively, it helps your blood pressure and it lifts your mood.
I’m trying to help people think about how they spend their money so they use that resource wisely. Happy hour and spa massages are some ways people “reduce” stress, but everyone needs a vacation.
What advice would you give to a business owner starting out in your industry that you wish you would have known going in?
I would let them know that selling travel is much harder than you realize. If you’re a travel agent, you probably already know the value of taking a vacation. Everyone has different priorities for their discretionary income.
What don’t most people realize about you or your company?
First, Cruise Planners does more than sell cruises. Second, I value education and training; so I devote approximately two hours or more each week to ongoing training in travel. Third, I strive always to understand my clients’ vacation desires, needs and budgets to create a great memory for them.
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