Racing through the Italian countryside in a bright red Ferrari isn’t in many travel agent play books. But for Julia Shore, it’s on-the-job research. The owner of Julia’s Travels, LLC in Boca Raton, FL, Shore is a self-proclaimed “enlightenment seeker.”
Shore specializes in custom journeys and cultural immersion. And what’s more emblematic of Italy than Ferrari? So, when she met a supplier at a trade show in Cannes offering a unique concept tour, she decided to learn more. A villa stay and adrenaline-pumping road trip behind the wheel of a convertible Ferrari ensued.
It all came as second nature for someone in explorer mode since childhood.
Born in Croatia, Shore moved with her family to Germany in the 1960’s. A fifth grade field trip to the palace of the Emperor Diocletian (in modern-day Split, Croatia) opened her eyes to historical travel.
While living in Germany, she took frequent weekend trips to France. They inspired a lifelong interest in fine cuisine and its connection to travel.
“I was 16 when I took my first solo trip. I was 20 when I dined at my first Michelin-starred restaurant,” said Shore.
Eventually, Shore moved to the U.S., where she married and had a daughter. She and her (now former) husband lived in Milan for a while before relocating back to the states. She’s lived in Boca Raton for almost 30 years. For the past 25, she’s worked at travel agencies in the area.
“I saw a career in travel as a great way to be part of something that I was passionate about,” said Shore.
In 2007, she joined Reid Travel in Boca Raton.
“They’re a long-established luxury cruise agency with a nice office, great location and close to home. I work inside four days a week, and on Wednesdays, I work from home and babysit my cute 18-month-old grandson. What I love best about Reid is the eclectic group of co-workers who manage to work well together,’ said Shore.
Nonetheless, Shore’s interests lie beyond cruising.
“For someone like me who is very destination focused, working with luxury cruise clients is not the right fit,” said Shore who in 2016, launched Julia’s Travels as an independent affiliate of Reid Travel.
Her goal is to create memorable cultural experiences for her clients. And she can speak from personal experience. Over the past few years, she’s amassed a treasure trove of her own travel experiences. She’s trekked glaciers in Argentina; motor glided in Nepal; ballooned above Bagan; and cruised the Nile. She’s seen cherry blossoms in Kyoto, polar bears in the Arctic, whirling dervish in Konya and tigers in India.
As of today, Shore’s list of countries visited stands at 118 and counting. It provides fertile ground for trip planning.
“I like to create my own itineraries to places that I have experienced myself. I have varied interests, which I pursue wherever I go. I seek cultural immersion and I go out of my way to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites," said Shore.
She finds the affiliation with Reid Travel — part of the Signature Travel Network — invaluable. She uses network suppliers, DMCs and hotels, as well as her own contacts.
After a quarter of a century in the business, she’s busier than ever. And, she’s still enjoying plenty of travel experiences to pass on to those clients.
In 2016, she visited Turkey twice, ballooned over Cappadocia, took a spa trip to Baden Baden, and inspected hotels on the Cote D’Azur. She was also featured as a "Trendsetter" by our sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, in December 2016.
Building up business is a multi-pronged effort for Shore.
Her website and social media are a big part of her marketing push. She uses both to promote her interests and write about her travels. Her blogs are true travel logs, dotted with historical facts and personal observations. They skew heavily toward her native Croatia, which is understandable.
Though social media hasn’t yet led to direct client interest, she did get a referral from another agency.
“A Virtuoso agency contacted me because of my beautiful Croatia photos. They wanted me to review a proposal they received and take over their client’s trip,” said Shore.
Culinary travel is another passion that is bringing in business.
“I’m a foodie and that’s what I pursue on my travels. I love Michelin-style dining and love authentic local foods. I’m planning a trip to southern Turkey which claims the best food in the country as well as biblical treasures dating back to Abraham. I don’t pay attention to news media and instead rely on my local contacts. I don’t consider Turkey unsafe or a dangerous travel destination. Throughout my travels, my experience has been positive. I leave what I know behind and I am ready to embrace something different and new,” said Shore.
Admittedly, it’s not always easy to get that philosophy across to others.
“I find that many clients prevent themselves from experiencing something beautiful because they are fearful, or they just can’t find all the fine comforts of home unless they are in a five-star hotel. But, that’s not always an option,” said Shore.
Shore does find it encouraging that like-minded travelers are seeking her out. One new client was impressed by Shore’s bio on the Reid Travel site.
“He’s an engineer who retired at age 60 and decided to travel. He was looking around for the right agent. He was very precise and did his research. He looked at three agencies and their staff. He picked me. I got a call from him out of the blue. He acted like he knew me. I kept trying to remember where I had met him before. He said, ‘We actually haven’t met yet. But I’ve read about you. I figured if someone can eat as much and travel as much as you do, I want you to handle all my future business,’” said Shore.