Jennifer Kruse comes from a large family. While she was growing up, exotic and expensive vacations were pretty much out of the question. This didn't, however, deter the Westchester County, NY-based owner of Journeys Travel from creating lasting memories. "The journeys we did take focused on time well spent together," she says. "I think this is why family travel hits so close to home for me." These trips included visits to the Jersey Shore each summer with extended family in crowded accommodations and exploring the college towns of older siblings during fall drop-off and spring pickup, as well as an educational excursion to Williamsburg, VA.Agent Bio
Now, with two kids of her own, Kruse has added "super mom" to her already impressive resume. She caught the cruising bug while on a Celebrity sailing in 1994. After that, she tried to organize a group of friends to travel together at sea each year. Kruse didn't really begin to look at selling travel as a potential career until she quit her job in medical technology in 2001, after the birth of her second child. When the kids were old enough for preschool, she decided to make the permanent move to a "part-time travel consultant and full-time super mom." Kruse did her homework, though—six months worth, in fact, which included reading up on hosts, consortia and accreditations. She chose Nexion as her host agency and has been happy ever since. "Nexion is a great host, with strong preferred supplier relationships, showing unparalleled support to its membership."
That support extends to getting clients—she credits her Nexion membership for most of her bookings. She also works with suppliers under Nexion's IATA, as well as an ARC VTC number issued to her agency.
Kruse's long list of accreditations includes CLIA Accredited Cruise Counselor, CLIA Accredited Luxury Cruise Specialist, Princess and Cunard Commodore, Royal Caribbean University of WOW Expert, Celebrity Cruises Specialist and she has enrolled in the new NCL U program. Kruse is also a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge, which helps with her frequent trips to Walt Disney World. She is commonly known among friends as the "Disney Girl," having once visited Disney World five times in one year. One hundred percent of her business is leisure, and, within that, she breaks it down as 50 percent cruise (as well as Caribbean and Central America land-based packages) and 50 percent Disney. "I had certainly planned to focus my business on cruising, but it seems a Disney niche had found me."
In the Community
Touting her role as "super mom," Kruse uses the connections in the community as a good base for potential clients. "The PTA and local sports associations afford great avenues to reach out to the community by sponsoring my son's baseball and my daughter's basketball teams. I also volunteer in the elementary schools as much as I can, and really believe that visibility is key."
Kruse tries to get to at least two conferences a year and the yearly trip to Disney World. Her favorite destination is anywhere out to sea, but her favorite hotel is the Boardwalk Inn at Disney World. "It's home away from home. There are little-known and secluded rose cottages at the Boardwalk that are so full of charm, words cannot express [my feelings]. I can surmise that my love of this place [comes from] the travel memories of my youth."
Kruse doesn't just settle for a replica, however. "Those memories of the beach as a youth are still so fond for us all, that my siblings and I try to meet there each year with our children, continuing that tradition."