When Kelley Sexton spoke with Home-Based Travel Agent, she was with her husband, Rob Sexton, at the Lodge in Cloudcroft—a resort in the mountains of New Mexico. This agent is making waves with her Agents Who Excel program. Agent bio
In the Beginning
Sexton says her earliest travel memory is of a trip to Disneyland with her grandparents at age 10. "It was a total surprise," she says. Now, Sexton helps others create vivid travel memories. "I got started when friends and family asked me what I thought about this and that." Today, she has a long list of credentials, such as managing American Express Travel offices and spending a year with an online travel giant. With a degree in recreation administration, she was a community recreation director, sales manager and trainer of trainers in the hospitality industry. She and Rob created Magic Carpet Travel in 2003.
Since the early days of Magic Carpet Travel, Sexton said she has scaled back a bit but still has consistent sales, due in part to strides in technology.
Sexton spreads this wisdom. At press time, she was preparing to present at the October Outside Sales Support Network conference in Atlantic City, NJ, as a panelist for a tech forum, where she was going to discuss low- and no-cost productivity software and other resources.
Agents Who Excel
Sexton's willingness to help other agents is not just limited to tech tricks. Together with business trainer Shelton Hill, she started Agents Who Excel, which provides Internet-based and direct professional development for travel agents.
"I love teaching," she says. "I love helping others succeed. Often people just need to know where to look...many travel agents are excited about travel but are unlearned about how to run a profitable business." Sexton has created five successful businesses. She says the program provides expert professional mentoring. When asked what feedback she has received, she says, "We've had two members recently tell us this is exactly what they were looking for and couldn't find from any other source."
Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced a training partnership with Agents Who Excel to benefit agents who are registered to sell NCL's cruises.
Sexton's savvy is apparent when it comes to her dealings with suppliers. "The number one thing I look for when dealing with suppliers is their service for my clients... I want my clients wowed." She researches service, reliability and trustworthiness, then seeks feedback from every client after their travel. Sexton uses other resources, too, like the five to six travel agent publications she gets every week, as well as trade shows she attends.
When asked about her favorite travel memory, Sexton recalls a trip she took to Italy this past April. She was one of 300 travel agents and journalists invited to the Italian Symposium arranged by the Italian Tourism Board. "When we arrived, they rolled out a red carpet and an Italian band played a welcome for us...I have been in the business for 20 years and this was the trip of a lifetime."