Travel Agent's Top Supplier Sales RepsSeptember 1, 2008 By: Michael Browne, Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent
Where would travel agents be without reliable, helpful and knowledgeable supplier sales representatives to keep them in the loop about all factors of the industry? Out of business, probably.
Travel industry sales reps are perpetually balanced on both sides of the business. They must know every detail about their company, and know exactly what travelers need so that an agent can properly sell that resort/hotel/cruise/tour to their clients. They are a vital, and often underappreciated, part of the industry, keeping both their companies and their agents happy and in business.
This past spring we ran a survey on TravelAgentCentral.com, asking our readers to nominate their picks for the best supplier sales reps in individual sectors of the travel business. The response was overwhelming: With nearly 800 votes across a wide range of categories, you told us who taught you the most, who helped you sell tours and destinations and cruises, who was there when you needed them, and who went that extra mile for you.
After many long days and nights of sorting through ballots and crunching numbers, we are pleased to bring you the results. In this issue, we celebrate the top sales reps in each category, as well as the top runners-up. (Note: Two categories—Car Rental and Tourist Board—had such a wide divergence of nominees that only the top vote getters are reported here.) These are the people who reach out to you regularly, who step up to the plate for you, who make certain that you’ll know exactly what to offer your clients.
Join us in congratulating all your top supplier sales reps, and start thinking about who you’d like to see on these pages next year.
Area Sales Manager
#1 Joy Cain currently serves as Air Jamaica’s Area Sales Manager, responsible for sales and marketing for a region that spans from Delaware to Philadelphia. With a passion for service, she started her career at Air Jamaica in October of 1989 in the Reservation Center at Valley Forge and quickly worked her way through the ranks, starting from lead agent to supervisor.
Her drive comes from interacting with agents, whether through a product update seminar or an informational session that gives her more reasons to “sell Air Jamaica.”
Cain believes that a hands-on and practical approach is a key ingredient for building a great relationship with clients.
She is a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Eastern Travel Association. Her philosophy is: Hard work! Lots of humor! Quick response!
“If this is my Oscar in the industry,” Cain says, “I would like to thank Robert Shand for believing in my potential when he hired me in 1989. (It took me a while to understand this airline language, but I got it!)”
#2 Paul Campbell started his career with Air Jamaica as an Account Executive in the New York Region in September 2003. In January 2005, He expanded his career in the travel industry with TNT Vacations based in Boston. After a brief stint in the tour operator business, Campbell rejoined Air Jamaica in March 2006 as an Account Executive covering the Maryland/District of Columbia/Virginia and West Virginia territory.
As a member of both Chapters of the Caribbean Tourism Organization in Maryland and Washington, DC, Campbell prides himself with not only the sales aspect of his job, but service as the key to the success of the organization.
Key Account Manager-Entertainment
#3 A Southern California native and UCLA graduate with 20 years at United, much of Katie Larson’s career has been in sales with territories in Fresno, San Diego and Los Angeles. She spent two years as the Regional Manager responsible for sales training, automation sales and analysis in LAX/SAN/HNL. As a Business Development Manager, she traveled the world selling line maintenance to other airlines in a global territory. “There’s nothing better than solving someone’s challenge,” she believes. When not promoting United, Larson enjoys her home in Long Beach and planning that next scuba-diving or wine-tasting trip with her husband.
Global Accounts Sales Manager
#4 Stan Price is based in Houston, where he is responsible for a portfolio of Global Corporations and affiliated TMCs. Price held many positions at Continental before being promoted into Global Sales. His extensive background provides an edge at creative problem solving to the benefit of the customer.
He believes that “when you work with great customers who become friends, coworkers who are friends and your company delivers an excellent product, it’s not like work.”
Business Development Manager— Rhode Island, Connecticut & Southeastern Massachusetts
#1 Joe Pereira started his travel career as part-time summer travel agent with Colonial Travel while attending college in Newport, RI. He worked with US Airways for 18 years, and was a manager from 1995 to April of 2002.
He joined the Sandals team in 2005. “The best part of my job is working with the agencies in my territory to increase their sales, while continuing to see the brand grow,” he says. “It’s a great time to be back in the travel industry and this is a great place to work.”
“Joe is the best sales rep,” said one agent, who called him the “most proactive and the biggest go-getter I have ever worked with” in 25 years in the business.
Business Development Manager— Southern New Jersey, Delaware & Greater Philadelphia
#2 Victoria Stover has been with Sandals, and in the travel industry, since February 2006. “I am proud of the product that I represent,” she says. She enjoys “discussing all of the exciting changes with my agents.” Maintaining relationships, helping agents grow their business and providing lasting memories to travelers “is the reason why getting on the road every day is not a job that I have to do, but a job that I love doing!”
Business Development Manager— Northeast
#3 Michael Tighe has been the Business Development Manager at Couples Resorts for the Northeast for seven years. “The staff at all of the four Couples Resorts in Jamaica, on the phone, and on the road, all strive and continue to surpass the highest levels of service, responsiveness and friendliness to all our guests and to all our travel agent professionals,” he says. He looks forward to introducing more agents to Couples.
Business Development Manager— Missouri, Kansas & Southern Illinois
#4 (Tie) Abigail Ujhelyi started her career with Unique Vacations/Sandals Resorts in May 2001. She had previously been part of an opening team at a nationwide branded casino in VIP Sales and Marketing. Her experience gave her the perfect opportunity to take on a new challenge with Unique Vacations. Ujhelyi’s favorite part of her job is cultivating sales in her territory and creating and developing relationships with travel agents. A native of St. Louis, MO, she enjoys visiting family and friends in Eastern Europe.
District Sales Manager
#4 (Tie) Ann McAllister is District Sales Manager for SuperClubs All-Inclusive Resorts located primarily in Jamaica with resorts in Curaçao, Dominican Republic and Brazil. Previously she worked with Wyndham Hotels and Resorts as Regional Sales Manager to promote and sell its Leisure Resorts, both all-inclusive and European Plan. Before that, she was with Sandals All-Inclusive Resorts as Regional Sales Manager. “My goal is always to work closely with the travel agents and tour operators to help them increase their business through the hotels I am representing,” she says.
Business Development Manager— Ohio & Kentucky
#4 (Tie) Dawn Bolte came to Unique Vacations in October 1999 after years as a retail manager for a nationwide department store chain. She developed the Kentucky & Indiana territory for five years before taking on the Ohio area in 2004. Over the years, Bolte has worked closely with agents in her own territory, and helped out in other areas as a Certified Sandals Specialist Workshop Trainer. She cites one of her greatest accomplishments as being named Sandals Sales Manager of the Year in 2004.
Mid Atlantic Sales Manager
BARCELO HOTELS AND RESORTS
#4 (Tie) Suzanne Dulaney joined Barceló Hotels & Resorts in August 2007. She is based in the Philadelphia area and oversees industry sales for the Mid Atlantic Region, from Pennsylvania to Virginia. A 20-year industry veteran, Dulaney began her hospitality career in Bermuda and has held sales positions with leading Caribbean hotel companies and tour operators. She is very active in many hospitality associations, along with various community organizations including the United States Tennis Association.
HOTELS & RESORTS
Director of Travel Industry Sales
THE RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL CO., LLC
#1 Pauletta Kaufman has been with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company since 2001. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University with a BA in Communications, Kaufman began her career in marketing and advertising with Crystal Cruises. Just prior to joining Ritz-Carlton, she held sales positions within the cruise industry and with The St. Regis Hotel, Los Angeles. In her current role, she is responsible for travel industry and agency sales in the western region. Among her other achievements, she is a Pinnacle Member of the Chairman’s Circle, President’s Club Achiever, Charity Liaison for Prost Society’s Los Angeles Chapter, Los Angeles Triathlon Club Member and Certified Scuba Diver.
“Pauletta is creative in her methods of selling and getting us to sell her hotels,” one agent said, describing her as “not only fun, but a wealth of help and support.”
EXECUTIVE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES
#2 Since 2003, Tom LaVaccare has represented such properties as the Greenbrier, Blackberry Farm, The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Watercolor Inn, Colonial Williamsburg, The Broadmoor and Barnsley Gardens as a sales trainer with his company, Exclusive Travel Experiences. He educates, equips and assists travel professionals in booking properties for their clients, rather than following a traditional sales role. After years in executive sales and training positions at the luxury resort level, he opened ETE to serve the leisure travel community as a liaison for his resorts, and has counseled more than 7,800 agents.
Business Development Manager— Rhode Island, Connecticut & Southeastern Massachusetts
#3 Joe Pereira, also named winner in the All-Inclusives category, joined Sandals in 2005. “The best part of my job is working with the agencies in my territory to increase their sales, while continuing to see the brand grow,” he says. Agents are effusive in their praise: “he constantly stops in the agency and phones with updates on his products”; “Joe is a great rep, supports his agents, is knowledgeable and has great ideas to help agents grow their business”; “even on days off and vacation he is thinking of how he can help his travel agent accounts.”
Pereira started his travel career as part-time summer travel agent with Colonial Travel while attending college in Newport, RI. He worked with US Airways for 18 years, and was a manager from 1995 to April 2002.
Business Development Manager— Northeast
#4 Michael Tighe has been the Business Development Manager at Couples Resorts for the Northeast for seven years. He is based in New York City.
Tighe does not feel that this recognition is his alone, but rather a team effort. “The staff at all four Couples Resorts in Jamaica, on the phone and on the road, all strive and continue to surpass the highest levels of service, responsiveness and friendliness to all our guests and to all our travel agent professionals,” he says. Agents selecting Tighe praised his “positive attitude.”
Evelyn League-St. Germain
Owner and President
#5 Evelyn League-St. Germain is owner and president of LMG, Inc., which she established in 1996 to serve a niche in the marketplace providing comprehensive representation for retail and group markets and project management specializing in sales, marketing/e-commerce and public relations for tourism-related entities. She is a member of SITE, MPI, L.A. PROST and South Bay Women In Travel.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and sons, playing tennis and relaxing at any of the wonderful properties in the portfolio.
Business Development Manager
#1 After graduating from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts with a master’s in counseling psychology, Nicole Castonguay became a sales representative with Sandals/Beaches almost by accident. “I fell in love with travel and sales and, most importantly, developed amazing relationships with my accounts,” she remembers. Two years later, she joined the team at Royal Caribbean in the Rhode Island and Cape Cod region. “My accounts know me as energetic, enthusiastic and always here to support and grow their business,” she says. “My coworkers know me as spontaneous, competitive and fun loving. I love life and feel very grateful for what I am able to call ‘my job.’”
Agents describe her as “professional, courteous and dependable” as well as “a huge asset to RCCL.”
Jean Dorn, CTC, ACC
Business Development Manager, Greater Tampa Bay
#2 As the Business Development Manager with Royal Caribbean for the Greater Tampa Bay Area, Jean Dorn works closely with Travel Partners across the region to create business for their agencies. This might include a cruise event at their office, a training event for the agency team or even working though difficult travel issues.
Dorn has worked with Travel Partners for more than 30 years, but still gets excited when a customer attends an event and chooses to book their cruise with the agency. “I love it when a marketing campaign takes off and the phones start ringing with business,” she says.
Business Development Manager, Metro Boston, New Hampshire & Maine
#3 Darlene Rosborough has been with Royal Caribbean for 19 years. She has been a District Sales Manager and a Key Account Manager in the Northeast region. Before Royal Caribbean, Rosborough was a Cruise Specialist focusing on groups with Crimson Travel in Boston.
At Royal Caribbean, she has been named Rookie of the Year, District Sales Manager of the Year and Key Account Manager of the Year. “I love sharing new itineraries, training on new tools and great sales opportunities,” she says.
Business Development Director, Central Pennsylvania
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
#4 Roxanne Steele graduated from York Technical Institute with an associate degree in Travel Tourism Management. Her career in the travel industry began with Kingdom Tours where she spent a year as a reservationist before being promoted to Sales Manager. She spent six years in this position, working with travel agents in the greater New England area. In 1996, she joined Carnival Cruise Lines, where she has been covering the Central Pennsylvania area as Business Development Director for the last 12 years. She lives in Lancaster, PA. with her husband Michael, her 18-month old son Tyler and our loyal canine companion Oscar.
Business Development Manager, Rhode Island & Southeastern Massachusetts
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
#5 Donna Nightingale has been with Norwegian for 17 years as a Business Development Manager, originally covering most of southern New England. In 2003, she was NCL’s Salesperson of the Year. Before joining NCL, she worked for Collette Tours as a District Sales Manager, and also worked onboard the SS Norway. Her love of cruising, she says, grew from her time aboard ship. Today, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband. “I enjoy selling such a great cruise product and working with travel agents who are so nice and are looking to grow their business,” she says. Agents describe her as “an excellent communicator who is always willing to go the extra mile.”
SMALL SHIP CRUISES/OPERATORS & SUPPLIERS
*Top Sales Rep: Car Rental
#1 (Tie) In an impressive show of agent support— and a tribute to his diversity— George Priester, CTC, not only tied for first place in the Small Ship Cruises category, but also won top honors in the Car Rental category. Twenty-five years ago, he started Priester Associates, which specializes in travel marketing representation and consulting. For 10 years, he has represented Auto Europe, and earned the title of Sales Manager from them even though he is an independent contractor. “I’m not in this business by accident,” he says proudly. “I love the industry, I love selling travel and I love traveling myself.”
“He is extremely knowledgeable and helpful with our agents,” says one industry player, while another notes that he “keeps a great check on us.”
Business Development Manager
UNIWORLD BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISE COLLECTION
#1 (Tie) Katherine Killen has spent more than 13 years in the travel industry, starting as a Sales Account Manager at The Vacation Store in Virginia Beach, VA, then five years at sea onboard Princess Cruise Lines as their Cruisercise Manager and Assistant Cruise Director before returning to Ohio to work for Costa Cruise Lines as their Sales Development Manager.
Killen joined Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection as Business Development Manager for the territory of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky in 2007.
She earned a B.S. in Education from Bowling Green State University and now lives in Sheffield Village, OH, with her husband and daughter.
Business Development Manager, New England & Bermuda
GLOBUS FAMILY OF BRANDS
#1 (Tie) Pam Shaw has represented the Globus family of brands in New England and Bermuda as a Business Development Manager for more than six years. Prior to Globus, she was with Tauck World Discovery as Northeast Sales Manager for more than four years. Before joining the world of tour operators, she spent 11 years representing the Cunard Line and Costa Cruises.
”I am honored to represent the Globus family of brands in New England,” she says. “From its quality product and high level of service to the travel agent, the Globus family of brands represents the best of the industry today at a time when companies are cutting back on their service levels and commission.”
Pam recently returned from visiting the Avalon Scenery, Globus’ newest river cruise vessel, in France. The ship, which was introduced this past spring, sails on the Rhone and Saone between Paris and Nice. She is the first of four additional vessels that Avalon Waterways will introduce in the next two years.
Regional Sales Director-Southeast
#2 Patterson Swindle has been in the travel industry for almost 29 years. For the past six years, she has worked with Silversea Cruises. Before that, she was a travel agent for 13 years, and then worked for a hotel and two tour operators. She has extensive experience in the cruise industry, having worked with Costa, Princess and Renaissance.
“My relationships with my accounts are personable,” she says. “I like to get to know them and understand their needs. It is a true partnership.” A native Atlantan, Swindle has two grown boys. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading and travel.
Senior Business Developement Manager
TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS & AMERICAN EXPRESS VACATIONS
#1 Sue Sheehan has worked with Travel Impressions, a tour operator wholesaler owned by American Express, for the past 10 years, where she covers Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware as a business development manager. Specializing in land and air vacations, she visits agents and trains them to develop new business. Her skill and determination to “go the extra mile” has been recognized by American Express’ Pacesetter Program three times over.
She is married to Jim Sheehan and has three children—Jennifer, Jimmy and Jeff—and a new son-in-law, Kevin.
The best part of her job, she says, is the relationship she has built with her agents, many of whom she considers her friends. “I love working with all of my agents,” she says. “They are like family to me.” Her agents descibe her as “always helpful,” “always smiling” and “always willing to go that extra mile to make selling her product as easy as possible.”
Lil Musmanno, CTC
Account Executive & Business Development Manager
#2 Lil Musmanno has been a veteran of the travel industry for more than 28 years. She started as a travel agent and went on to become District Sales Manager for Carlson Wagonlit’s Associate Program in the New York Metro area. She was National Sales Manager with Travel Impressions for five years.
During her nine years at Classic, she has forged many long-standing relationships with travel agents. She enjoys helping agents grow their business by offering unique products and services provided by Classic.
“Lil gives 150 percent all the time,” one agent enthused.
Business Development Manager, New England & Bermuda
GLOBUS FAMILY OF BRANDS
#3 Also recognized in the Small Ship Cruises category, Pam Shaw has represented the Globus family of brands in New England and Bermuda as a Business Development Manager for over six years. Agents note that Shaw is “responsive, supportive, knowledgeable...the go-to person who gets back to you with answers within moments. She has an exceptional can-do attitude that is so often lacking”; “pleasant, always has a good inside rep and good newsletter to keep you informed.”
Peter Figueiredo, CTC
District Sales Manager
DISNEY DESTINATIONS, LLC
#4 Peter Figueiredo joined the Walt Disney Company in 2000 as a District Sales Manager for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He oversees the Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts territory and is responsible for various sales and marketing efforts for the travel industry sales division with Disney Destinations, LLC.
“I attribute my success to the great teams I work with at Disney and the dedicated local travel agent community,” he says. “By our extraordinary relationship, we creatively work together to stay at the top of the travel industry.”
Director of Sales— West
#5 Elayne Raksnys’ love affair with the travel industry began more than 20 years ago at Pan Am after she emigrated from England. Sadly, the dream job ended at the same time as the airline, but she continued to work in the industry she’d come to love. Eight years ago, she found a home at Insight Vacations, selling premium escorted tours to Europe. In this industry, relationships are all important, and travel agents are the lifeblood that keeps the industry pumping. “Working with people is what I like best about my job,” she says, “and no matter how hard I work, I get more than I give.”
“Experience and knowledge make her one of the best,” agents say of Elayne, who they describe as “cheerful—a joy to work with.”
Mid-Atlantic Regional Sales Manager
TRAVEL INSURED INTERNATIONAL
#1 Isaac Cymrot has worked for three years at Travel Insured, where he says the best part of his job “is the opportunity to meet face to face with my agent partners. Industry relationship building remains a top priority at Travel Insured, and I am gratified that my agent partners value those relationships.
“The more I learn about a particular agency,” he adds, “the better equipped I am to suggest new ideas and help implement tools to grow their travel insurance program.”
He joined the Travel Insured team after two years in the telecommunications industry. A hockey partner, Kevin Herlihy, brought him into the business, where he found a home. Cymrot graduated from Northwestern University with a dual major in Entrepeneurship and Management.
“Isaac broke down insurance so I can understand it,” said one agent, who described him as “very supportive and quick to answer questions.” Other agents praised his skill at keeping “in touch without being invasive.”
Director of Retail Sales
#2 Ray Lengel began his travel industry career in 1974 as an agent with Talmage Tours of Philadelphia. In 1984, he joined Tele-Trip Mutual of Omaha Travel Insurance. He left in 1989 for the travel insurance division of Travel Insured (then Travelers Insurance Co.). Lengel joined Travel Guard in 2001 and is currently Director of Retail Sales for the Philadelphia area. He also serves as vice president of the Philadelphia Chapter of SKAL International. “I have always loved the travel business and continue to enjoy promoting the advantages that travel insurance brings to travel agents and the clients they serve,” he says.
ACCESS AMERICA TRAVEL INSURANCE
#3 Kathy Hogan enjoys selling travel insurance and assistance to agencies in her New England territory. She is in her third year with Access America and was named Top Sales Professional of 2006. Prior to joining Access, Kathy was Base Leader in Boston for Delta Air Lines low-cost carrier, Song. She is no stranger to the agency community, having sold agency and corporate sales for Delta and is pleased to be doing business with many of her previous clients. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, skiing and snowmobiling. Hogan lives in Salem, MA, with her family.
Leslie A. Copeland
Territory Manager (MO, IL, ND, SD)
#4 Leslie Copeland has been with Access America for one year, and is based in St. Louis. She had 20 years of hotel/resort sales management before she got into the supplier side of the business. Most recently, she worked for the Radisson Downtown STL for seven years. Working with travel agents in the hotel industry became her passion, and the best part of her job, she says, is “working with them every day to grow their insurance sales so they can earn more commissions.” She lives by the rules of “being as responsive and available as I can.”
Agents say that Leslie “has excellent product knowledge,” and describe her as a “great person.” She is “full of enthusiasim” and “always helps” when needed. “She keeps in touch” and is “good at getting back” to agents who need her.
R. Lincoln Pease
Director of Sales New England
AIG TRAVEL GUARD
#5 Lincoln Pease has been calling on the travel industry since 1979. He started with The Travelers and is currently with AIG Travel Guard. He has served as the Allied Chairman for Connecticut ASTA, and is currently the vice president of Connecticut SKAL.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT, and received his CLU and ChFC designation from the American College in Bryn Mawr, PA.
Agents describe Pease as “very helpful,” “very friendly” and “a joy to work with.” Other agents have praised Lincoln’s willingness to “come in” to “explain and answer questions” about new products, and said that he “knows his business inside and out.” In a nutshell, one agent noted that Pease “has been a pleasure to deal with over the years.”
New England Sales Representative
ARUBA TOURISM AUTHORITY
Katherine Kennedy has been working with Aruba for 13 years as the New England Sales Representative. Before joining the Authority, she worked for Impressive Aruba in Boston. She enjoys doing agent presentations and working trade shows, as well as helping agents choose the right hotel for each client. “I love my work, the agents and the travel industry,” she says. “I work with great people, both here in Boston, in Miami and also on the island. We have a terrific team. Right now, Aruba is boasting over $350 million in renovations, which I am sharing with all of my agents.”