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Meet Mame KingSeptember 3, 2007 By: Dan Butcher Travel Agent
Plattsburg, NY-based agent values her autonomy
Mame King is an
currently based out of her home office in
affiliate of America's Vacation Center (AVC), an American Express host agency,
for about a year and a half, and she has officially been an agent for five
years, although she says that she has been booking travel for herself and her
friends for years. Like many others in the industry, her interest in becoming a
travel agent was sparked by her love of travel. Mame
"I've always loved to travel," King says.
"I've lived in 30 states and in
there are very few destinations I haven't been to." King enjoys passing
along her enthusiasm to her clients. "I'm doing what I love and I make
The brick-and-mortar agency she used to work for, however,
was not a good fit. "I felt like I was constantly in a box; I could only
book with certain suppliers," King says. "I felt like I was being
stepped on all the time." She wanted more opportunities to grow on her own
terms, so she began researching host agencies.
"I found my host agency,
recommendation of a valued colleague," King relates. "She had already
done the lengthy four to six months of legwork researching host agencies and,
after about six months of affiliation, was certain that she had made the best
decision." This piqued King's interest. "When it was my turn to leave
my brick-and-mortar agency, I interrogated her," King says. "I wanted
to know everything about AVC before deciding to join or not. I wanted to know
its reputation. It was important to me not only for the agent's view of the
agency, but also the view of the clients." She sought out every detail.
"I asked about monthly fees, and she explained that with minimum effort
the monthly fee for AVC is waived. I knew that I definitely didn't want to pay
to keep my job! As for leads, you don't have to pay for them with AVC,
either," she continues. "The biggest thing, of course, is how do they
pay, and is it reliable? At AVC, they pay extremely fairly and reliably with
The AVC buddy program has helped her to be successful.
"There are several other people I can have regular communication with so I
don't feel alone," King says. "AVC has a huge support network, both
professionally and personally."
King had found a match. "All of this was what I wanted
to hear, but what truly sold me was the level of agent they were seeking,"
she says. "I was interviewed multiple times, my references were actually
checked and it was not an easy acceptance process. At the end of it all, I was
proud to be accepted on my own merit, skill and abilities."
She also enjoys her autonomy. "With AVC, I can grow as
quickly or as slowly as I want to," she says. "I'm given the
discretion to make my own decisions."
King values persistence and the ability to adapt. "It
may take me four or five tries to get the perfect trip," she says. "I
have a very disciplined philosophy when I'm working from home." In order
to build her client base, she uses the leads provided by AVC and thrives on
referrals and repeat clients. She books exclusively leisure travel.
To keep herself educated, King reads trade magazines and
takes courses online with AVC. "I'm in the process of becoming a Royal
She also feels that it's important to go on fam trips to
gain insight into a particular ship or destination. "Fams give you
firsthand knowledge of a product or destination; take advantage of those
opportunities," she advises. "You can help your clients envision
where they'll be going and what they'll find when they get there."
A Love for Travel
King loves talking about her favorite travel experiences.
"I attended the pre-inaugural for Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas
in May, and then I headed to
for a Royal Caribbean land tour," King says. "It was fantastic; I'm
definitely going back.
stole my heart away—the raw natural beauty of it was amazing."
adds, "we saw a female moose having lunch about 20 feet from the road, and
a timber wolf on the edge of the tree line above Talkeetna." The weather
also cooperated with her. "Only one out of 10 people get to see
not shrouded in clouds. We had bright sun with no clouds," she says.
"In its own way,
exceeds anything I could have imagined."