Travel Agent's 35 Under 30November 11, 2011 By: Adam Leposa, Jena Tesse Fox, Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent
Karoline Jewell, 26
All Inclusive Outlet
Unlike most travel agents, travel didn’t come easy for Karoline Jewell. In fact, her first trip abroad occurred after becoming employed at All Inclusive Outlet. After taking the position at the agency, she had the opportunity to travel outside the U.S. for the first time—to Mexico.
“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she says. “It allowed me to experience a new culture and discover a new love for travel.”
Jewell worked in operations for a few months before there was an opening in the sales department. A year and five trips later, she has made a niche for herself in the industry as a destination wedding and honeymoon specialist.
When financial woes made folks rethink the way they spent their vacation time and dollars, Jewell, as a destination wedding and honeymoon specialist, took the opportunity to help couples get married in beautiful settings for a low cost. “The economy has not affected how many people fall in love each year and choose to get engaged and married.”
Tom Carr, president of All Inclusive Outlet, says, “One would never think of a one-year veteran of travel as being a top 35 Under 30. However, Karoline is very unique. Since October 2010, she has been responsible for 1,065 bookings; over 2,500 passengers and over $3.6 million in leisure production.”
Georgia Johnson Kicklighter, 25
AMT American Express Travel
West Covina, CA
|Georgia Johnson Kicklighter|
Georgia Kicklighter built her career from the ground up, beginning in high school as a file clerk and climbing the ladder to receptionist, then agent and finally to marketing and sales director. This afterschool job blossomed into a full-time career– one in which she has been named A-List Travel Agent by Travel + Leisure three years in a row.
The most interesting travel to sell for Kicklighter are mega FITs– trips longer than two weeks for clients of all ages who want to immerse themselves in the culture of a destination. Typically she sends them to Southeast Asia, multiple countries in Europe and the South Pacific. Though her own travels have taken her across the globe, she says that she still would love to see Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, Japan and the southern United States.
Kicklighter prides herself on working smart. In the current economic climate, she has no problem turning down requests that do not appear to be serious or profitable, and recommends that these travelers seek service elsewhere. She also puts an emphasis on automatic marketing with current and prospective clients.
“Each year Georgia comes up with fresh ideas to grow our business, and I see an increase of at least 15 percent in her personal sales year after year,” says Frank Morgan of AMT American Express Travel, noting that it was Kicklighter who proposed–and launched–the agency’s successful wedding and honeymoon division.
Marina Kiriazi, 28
Upper Montclair, NJ
A luxury FIT travel specialist, Marina Kiriazi started her career in news organizations, including CNN, before transitioning to travel three years ago. Since then, she has been promoted twice and has developed a luxury clientele that spans multiple demographics.
“My clients include couples, friends, or families in their late 20s to 60s and up,” says Kiriazi. “Many of them are planning big memorable trips to celebrate honeymoons, anniversaries, reunions, or other occasions. They range from young professionals, just starting out, to presidents and CEOs of multinational companies.”
While Kiriazi books destinations all over the world, her most memorable recent trip focused on Greece. “I sent a family from California on a custom tour that included stays in Mykonos, Santorini and Crete along with four days on a private yacht discovering more remote spots in the Aegean,” says Kiriazi. “I was so excited for them.”
She notes with pride the team effort through which her agency has met recent challenges. “Travelive has been highly proactive in combating the economic downturn, and in particular, the weakening dollar. The company negotiates fixed, favorable USD rates so that our clients are not losing in the exchange or being subject to fluctuating rates.”
“Marina has proven herself as an emerging leader in luxury FIT travel,” says Mina Agnos, cofounder and vice president of sales and client services for Travelive. “Marina is dedicated to educating herself about each destination she sells by reading, asking the right questions and traveling (a lot). She provides in-depth consultations to ensure that each experience is tailored to the individual.”
Joshua Monahan, 26
Cruises & Tours Unlimited/OutsideAgents.com
Joshua Monahan has been a part of the travel industry for 20 years. His mother was one of the first 50 CLIA-accredited agents, and when he took his first cruise at age 6, he knew he had found what he wanted to do when he grew up.
“Josh is the ‘poster child’ for the new breed of agent,” says Chad Burt, co-owner, Cruises & Tours Unlimited/OutsideAgents.com. “He fully leverages technology to boost his sales, streamline customer service, maximize product knowledge, and work as efficiently as possible. As a result, his year-over-year sales growth continues to soar.”
Monahan’s technology expertise manifested during a recent challenging itinerary, which he booked for a group of close friends with less than two days in hand before the trip’s departure time.
“At the last minute, I was able to find six of my friends a great deal at the Marriott Cypress Harbor in Orlando, and a three-day pass to Universal Orlando Resort that included the Frequent Fear Plus Passes to Halloween Horror Nights,” he says.
Monahan continues to help adapt his business to meet the challenges of the current economy. “We grow each and every day by molding a changing business model to make sure Cruises & Tours Unlimited remains on the top of the travel world,” says Monahan. “All you have to do is to make sure the community does not forget your name, get out there and let people know that using a travel agent is best!”
Jamie Mussolini, 27
At just 27, Mussolini is the owner of her home-based agency. She graduated from IONI College with a BBA in marketing and management and first began working in the industry as an executive assistant booking travel within her corporation. “I was booking so much travel that I began to love planning trips,” she says.
After a year in that position, she became an independent agent for a travel agency to learn the trade. In February 2007, she opened up her own business and took off from there. She predominantly books vacations for couples or families looking for luxury trips or honeymoons. Mussolini is IATA accredited, as well as a destination wedding specialist and a TheKnot.com travel specialist for brides.
Mussolini considers her greatest asset to be the ability to relate to her clients. She herself had a destination wedding and now plans her own family vacations with her husband and three-year-old son. “I can relate to many clients in all of these scenarios because I have been there. I know what to expect and what to look for, and that’s what makes me the perfect planner,” she says.