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How Did You Get Your Start in the Business?

May 7, 2007 By: Mark Rogers, Mackenzie Allison, Jennifer Merritt, David Eisen, Dan Butcher Travel Agent

Agents discuss how they began their careers in travel

 John CliffordJohn Clifford

International Travel Management

John Clifford transitioned from leisure agent, to corporate
agent to agency manger, and then to owning and operating his own La Jolla,
CA-based luxury travel company. 

After completing an agent course (and graduating at the top
of his class), Clifford started work at an American Express affiliate agency,
then staffed the VIP and international desks of corporate travel agencies like
Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Maritz Travel.

When he went out on his own, "It took a year for me to
develop clientele. The second year I barely survived, and the third year it
started to happen."

Amanda KlimakAmanda Klimak

Largay Travel

"As is true with our entire industry, it's all about
who you know," says Amanda Klimak, vice president of Waterbury, CT-based
Largay Travel. "I had a friend who ran a local travel agency that had a
position open for a 'travel agent wannabe.' I eagerly applied, since I had just
dropped out of college and was cleaning stalls in a horse barn," she
confides. "Even at $6 an hour this was a huge improvement from taking care
of Mr. Ed," she jokes. "After a month of training at the American Airlines Learning Center
in Dallas, I
was sure I'd found my calling. That was 19 years ago; I've never looked back." 

Jewell Ramos

Worldview Travel

"I never wanted to do anything but travel," says
Jewell Ramos, outside sales consultant for Worldview Travel in Santa Ana, CA.
A travel industry veteran for 37 years, Ramos began in the industry as a
reservations agent for Avis-Rent-A-Car, and then worked her way up to running
the company's international division. Ramos joined her first travel agency in
1977. "From the age of ten I was different—I was the one who wanted to see
the world," says Ramos. Typically, Travel Agent caught up with
Ramos via cell phone as she sped off towards the airport, bound for Mexico, where
her visits number 90-plus.

Jennifer Doncsecz

President, VIP Vacations Inc.

"I started selling travel because I wanted a part-time
job and my marketing professor told me that I had to sell what I loved,"
says Jennifer Doncsecz, president of Whitehall, PA-based VIP Vacations Inc.
"I had always loved travel, so it seemed the right fit." She, like
all of the agents we queried, found the perfect industry to match her skills
and her love of travel.

—Jennifer Merritt, David Eisen, Mark Rogers, Mackenzie Allison, Dan Butcher

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