After beginning her career as a flight attendant and working her way up through some of the leading travel agencies in the business, Connie Majors landed at New York-based Linden Travel in 2006 as head of leisure travel. One thing her experience has taught her is that “leisure travel hasn’t really changed since 1971…Other than the technology and automation, we’re still doing it the old-fashioned way.”
Connie Majors and tour guide get to know Jambalani the elephant while visiting Africa.
By that, Majors is referring to the personal touch so critical to success in the travel industry. “Reaching out on a personal level is key,” she asserts, “as well as building and maintaining relationships with clients and vendors.”
Having managed travel agencies in the past, Majors likens her clients to employees. “You have to manage [clients] as you would an employee,” she says. “Clients expect certain things, and it’s my role to provide that."
Being part of Linden Travel makes that an easier task: The company is a heavy hitter in the industry, with more than $100 million in annual volume. Says Majors, “[Owner] Barbara Gallay’s reputation is so great, we have established strong bonds with vendors. That’s a huge benefit in this business.” Indeed, she notes, in an industry notorious for “playing favorites,” it’s a very good thing to be one of those favorites—certainly her clients appreciate the dividends those relationships pay off.
Another thing that Linden Travel offers is the breadth of experience of its agents. “When it comes to travel, we have someone who’s been everywhere,” says Majors. “For clients, it’s like going to a library and researching a trip, but it’s a completely personal experience.”
Majors specializes in the Caribbean, Africa and Europe and often books for Abercrombie & Kent, Orient-Express Hotels and Micato Safaris. For her own knowledge, she personally visits all of the locations she sells to keep updated on the latest trends and innovations of suppliers and destinations all over the world. In addition, Linden Travel provides a valuable program for all of its travel consultants and suppliers: Vendors are invited to its offices to join mini trade shows and do presentations; travel consultants are exposed to different suppliers every day.
Out of Africa
Travel is not just Majors’ career, it’s her passion—particularly Africa, which has become her personal favorite destination. “I can’t explain the thrill that you get if you’ve never been,” she says. “It’s almost like an out-of-body experience…and it’s not just about the animals. The people in Africa are unlike any people anywhere.”
On her recent trip to East Africa hosted by Micato Safaris, Majors became a big supporter of Micato’s AmericaShare program that sponsors underprivileged children in East Africa. Founded 20 years ago, AmericaShare now supports about 2,000 children in schools and orphanages throughout East Africa. Majors inspired all Linden Travel associates and consultants to sponsor a young boy, Jackson Kageha, in Nairobi to go to school.
“It’s a great cause,” she says, and something she encourages all her clients to participate in.
Head of Leisure Travel, Linden Travel
Headquarters: 909 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022
Web site: www.lindentravel.com
Annual sales volume: $100 million-plus (company)
Affiliations: ASTA, Virtuoso