Meet Mame King

Mame King is an Ohio native currently based out of her home office in Plattsburgh, NY. She has been an independent 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 King

"I've always loved to travel," King says. "I've lived in 30 states and in Europe; 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 people happy."

Branching Out

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, America's VacationCenter, the easy way—through the 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 weekly commissions."

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 Caribbean specialist."

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 Alaska for a Royal Caribbean land tour," King says. "It was fantastic; I'm definitely going back. Alaska stole my heart away—the raw natural beauty of it was amazing."

"In DenaliNational Park," she 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 MountMcKinley not shrouded in clouds. We had bright sun with no clouds," she says. "In its own way, Alaska exceeds anything I could have imagined."