We asked agents: Who in the industry been a role model to you? Who was it, and how did he or she influence your career?
When I started as a European barge specialist 10 years ago, I had the good fortune to work directly with Howard Dougherty, who introduced French barging to the American travel agent community in the 1970s and 1980s," says Pat Jeske, a canal and river cruise specialist for James Travelpoints in Boulder, CO.
"As a former travel agency owner in
In this very different era of Internet travel selling where all the rules have changed, I still prefer to work directly with travel agents, giving them the tools they need to be successful in selling barging to their ever-evolving clientele."
First Travel of
"I was in my low-30s, working as an accountant, when
Des Nesbitt of Beverly Hills Travel came into the office delivering airline
tickets. Back then, that was how it was done," says Chris DeRose,
president of First Travel of California in
At the age of 20, Heinke McDade, owner of McDade Travel in
"He is my mentor," she says. "Today, I don't have a lot of guts. I wouldn't be able to get up and leave my family like I did when I was 20 and he often says to me, 'You're no fun,'" she laughingly adds. "He definitely keeps me going."
A cruise specialist who works for the St. Louis-based agency the Cruise Planner from her home in Millersville, MD, Jeannie Lipphard became hooked on cruising as soon as she went on her first cruise in December 1998.
"We did three nights on the Carnival Fantasy, and I absolutely loved it," she says. It was there that Lipphard met an established cruise agent, which led her down the path of becoming an agent.
"I found [the owner of the Cruise Planner] Diane Mason online...and I cruised several more times with her in 1999 and 2000," Lipphard says. "I was talking about cruising all the time, and sending my friends and family to her. One day, she said to me, 'Gee, have you ever thought about selling cruises? You're sending me so much referral business, I can't keep up. Have you considered getting into the business?'"
She decided to try it in September of 2001. With Mason
serving as her mentor, Lipphard immersed herself in the industry to learn the
many ins and outs. Now, she is a CLIA-accredited Elite Scholar Cruise Counselor
with a significant clientele base, with clients in
Lipphard stresses the need for a strong support network, especially when you're first starting out.
"You need someone who's been in the business and has the experience, and that is what worked out so well for me," she says.
"By working for Diane Mason, who had been in the business for 15 years as a cruise agent, she was there to answer questions and steer me in the right direction."
Thomas Jackson, a Certified Travel Industry Executive and president of Santa Ana, CA-based World Travel, says that his early travel experiences as a young boy helped lead him to his career path. He cites his father as a mentor.
"My very first trip was when I was eight years
old," he says. "I flew with my parents to
As an only child growing up in
Originally, his father didn't want his son to follow in his
footsteps. "As I was approaching graduation, my father said that he wanted
me to become a CPA and an attorney,"
—Daniel Butcher, David Eisen, Jennifer Merrit, Mark Rogers, Debbie Strong