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Top Agent Commits $1.25 million to UniversityFebruary 10, 2009 By: George Dooley
If you are tired of tales of bankruptcy and bailouts you can take heart from Pam Wright, CEO, owner and founder of Nashville, TN based Wright Travel who is donating $1.25 million to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) to help aspiring entrepreneurs chart their own course for success.
Wright’s donation to her alma mater in Murfreesboro, TN, establishes a permanent endowment fund that will be utilized to create and support the Wright Travel Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship at MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business.
“I appreciate all the support I’ve received from my clients, employees and the travel industry over the past 28 years, and I cannot think of a better legacy than to help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs through this endowed chair at my alma mater,” Wright said. “Entrepreneurs are critical to the travel industry. They develop the services and products we need to prosper as an industry and to keep travelers interested. “
“This is the first gift of this magnitude in the university’s history,” said Dr. James Burton, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business. “It will help us take our entrepreneurship program to the next level. We are very indebted and grateful to Pam for this most generous contribution.”
Wright is a longtime supporter of education and community initiatives, and was the inaugural recipient of MTSU’s School of Business Exemplar Award in 2000. She was selected for the Distinguished Alumni Award at MTSU in 1992 and has served on the board of trustees for the MTSU Foundation and the university’s President’s Advisory Council.
Wright founded her agency in 1981 and has nurtured it to become the largest travel agency headquartered in Tennessee. Wright Travel offers business and leisure travel services from 16 full-service branch locations in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Annual sales have been estimated in the $100 million range.
Wright’s agency is 80 percent corporate and 20 percent leisure with 70 employees. A member of TRAVELSAVERS and an ASTA Premium member, Wright said her agency’s ability to provide outstanding, personalized customer services has been a competitive weapon against the mega agencies she competes with.
“Business travel has been hit hard by the economic downturn – perhaps harder than leisure travel sales. The only defense is great service and working with clients to meet their needs. There are customers out there, but it’s tougher to find them. The ability to save clients money is a big asset. Travel agents – leisure or corporate - will have to be aggressive in their marketing and sales efforts,” Wright said in an interview with Travel Agent.
Wright believes that travel industry suppliers are looking for results from productive agencies. “They expect the agency they support to focus on them and to deliver sales.
Overall suppliers are cautious in this downturn.” Wright also urges agents to learn and expand their knowledge of the industry. “There are tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurial agents – including home based independents.”