Jennifer Doncsecz, Media Darling

Jennifer Doncsecz, president of VIP Vacations Inc., knows an opportunity when she sees one. When her Whitehall, PA home-based agency was singled out at Sandals and Beaches' 2005 STAR Awards, coming in at first place in the nation for group sales, Doncsecz wasted no time in taking advantage of her company being in the spotlight. "As soon as I returned from the STAR Awards, I contacted every local press person I knew," she says.

Doncsecz's efforts yielded immediate results—CNN Headline News picked up the story and did a profile on VIP Vacations Inc. Then Doncsecz's local paper, The Morning Call, in AllentownPA, ran an article as well.

It was only a month after receiving the award when RCN TV called, asking Doncsecz if she would come in and host a monthly segment called "Ask the Travel Agent." "Viewers call in questions live and often I open the show with hot topics and great deals," says Doncsecz.

The rollercoaster ride didn't stop there—Doncsecz is currently the Philadelphia travel correspondent for Fox News, raising the profile even higher for her and her agency.

"The STAR award was measured against brick-and-mortar agencies and not simply home-based ones," says Doncsecz. "Winning that award was a defining moment for my company."

VIP Vacations Inc. has also been named STAR Awards Best of the Best for several years and this past year was chosen number one in the nation for group sales.

It's hard to believe Doncsecz started in the travel business a mere 15 years ago. While attending a marketing and sales seminar, the instructor said to Doncsecz, "You have such an honest face—you're going to need to sell something you love." Doncsecz took the advice to heart and walked into a travel agency cold and was hired on the spot. After six months, she became pregnant with her first child and the travel agency, impressed with her sales record, helped her transition into being a home-based agent. A year passed and it dawned on Doncsecz that, "I can do this on my own." She then founded her own home-based agency, VIP Vacations, Inc., which now employs 13 outside sales agents.

Doncsecz's Words of Advice

"I tell my agents, 'You have to love travel, but you have to really be good at sales.'" To that end, Doncsecz encourages her agents to attend seminars on public speaking and sales techniques, with the agency picking up the costs of the seminars.

Doncsecz also hosts an annual weekend retreat for her team, and invites speakers to come and make presentations to her agents. "It's a very motivational weekend and a real team-building experience," she says.

As president of the company, Doncsecz sets a standard for the sales team of always putting the client's needs first.

"My mindset from the beginning was to be a resource to my clients and establish a clientele that needed a personal touch," says Doncsecz.

Doncsecz explains that VIP Vacations Inc. found a niche in the wedding and honeymoon market and began to focus on that about four years ago. "None of this would have happened if it hadn't been for the support I receive from Sandals and Beaches Resorts and Unique Vacations," she says. "Five years ago, the only supplier that would come to my house and encourage me to sell their product was my Sandals rep."

Doncsecz has advice for agents. "You have to value yourself—take pride in what you do," she says.