Why did I become a travel agent?
Travel has always been a passion of mine. Traveling the world and seeing new destinations excites me. I guess you can say I have always found the unknown interesting.
Growing up, I never thought about my goals as a professional or career oriented woman. I was set with the idea of having a “regular” Mexican mother’s life: Getting married after college, becoming a stay at home mother and taking care of my family…the “perfect life.” There is nothing wrong with that plan, but I knew that I didn’t really fit that mold. So, after college, with no boyfriend to propose to me nor a BS degree in Kinesiology, real life hit me like a train. I decided to search and follow my passion.
Where did you work before being a TA?
I worked in the family business for a bit, then as a personal trainer at my local gym, as well as volunteer (then part time) as a Physical therapy assistant. Still, I was not convinced any of those career choices were for me.
When did you become a travel agent?
After a few months of working with my dad, we got in a bit of an argument and I said the infamous words: “Dad, I quit.” He tells the story differently. He thinks he fired me first, but that’s not true. I told my parents out of the blue that I was going to open my own travel agency, without knowing if travel agents still existed or if it still was a good industry to pursue. Of course, everybody told me I was crazy, that it was a dying industry to be in, but I did not care, I knew I wanted to work in travel and restored my passion for getting to know the unknown, and had that “flame” of wanting to prove people wrong.
So after a few hours of online research, I saw that, in fact, it was not an option for me to open my own travel agency, since:
1) I had no experience as a travel agent at all
2) had never made a booking in my life
3) had no money to travel or start a business
4) had no idea whatsoever of how to start
So, I started looking for local travel agencies in San Diego and ran into an opening in a family owned agency in Coronado, CA. I applied, got an interview the next day, and got the job!
I started as an assistant to the travel agency owner. They trained me on all the programs that I needed to know to be an agent, learned how a travel agency operates, and, with time, I learned how to design itineraries.
My mom always reminds me two things:
1) You were born hungry (Literally, the 1st thing I did when I was born was eat)
2) you are very lucky
She’s right on both, but, when I applied to the agency in Coronado, I did not know I was applying to one of the best agencies in the US and Mexico. They are part of a Luxury travel network (Virtuoso Travel) where only the best of the best travel agencies can join. So, without me knowing, I luckily got my foot in the door of the best travel agencies network, and was being trained by a legend in the travel industry. I had the hardest and most demanding boss in the world! But, thanks to her, I’m where I am today in the industry.
When did you know you wanted to make a future as a travel agent:
One day, I realized I was very good at what I was doing. I really enjoyed and had fun designing unique itineraries for some clients, or helping my boss reconfirm itineraries, and figuring out the logistics of a trip. I loved going into the office to start working, and I still do. I realized I was in the right industry when I was excited for Mondays.
Why do you call yourself a travel designer and not a travel agent:
I consider myself a travel designer and not a travel agent or concierge since I’m not just someone who takes orders. I hear my clients; ideas about the destinations and I design a unique trip for them. That’s what I love about my job. No one day is the same as the next. Of course, I have my favorite and preferred hotels and vendors in specific destinations, but every trip is different.
I love my job (98% of the time!) but what really excites me about being travel designer is that I get the opportunity to help people create unforgettable one of a kind memories abroad.
I believe that every decision you make in life, good or bad, leads you to your present. Today, I have the opportunity to have my own travel business, and be part of Virtuoso travel by being an Independent contractor with Avant Garde Travel -a great host agency, that supports and encourages me.
What is the most difficult thing about your job:
Attention to detail, having customers that do not open up, these can easily impact performance. The most important part of my work process is making my clients trust me.
What’s the part of your career that you dislike or don’t enjoy:
Taking pictures of me, blogging about my trips and posting pictures of myself. When it comes to a destination or a vendor I can blog away, but it’s a bit more difficult to talk about myself.
What made you fall in love with this industry?
Besides making client’s travel dreams come true, I’m in love with my career since I get to daydream. When I have time, I get to experience trips that would never even know of if I want a travel designer.