What do the high-tech field and dating services have to do with the travel business?
Not much, to most observers. But for Lynne Adams, they’re the stepping stones of success.
Adams’ professional life began right out of college, with a job selling IBM copiers. She followed that up with a 25-year career in marketing and management for tech giants Wang, Oracle and Cisco.
Adams retired after 9/11, and moved from Washington, D.C. to Naples, Florida.
“It was my lifelong dream to move out of the cold weather. Fortunately, I had a little bit of a parachute from my retirement,” said Adams.
Once in Naples, she looked around for what to do with that parachute. The answer was obvious: buy a dating service franchise called “It’s Just Lunch.”
Adams managed the dating business for three years before selling it. Finding herself with a database of singles, she wondered what to do next. A friend suggested she meet with Jean Melcher, a Bonita Springs, Florida agent who sold singles cruises.
For the former dating service owner, it was a perfect match.
Adams joined Melcher as an independent contractor, and learned all about cruises. After three years, she decided to go in a different direction.
“I had taken lots of single seniors around the world and gained 15 pounds in the process. I wanted to stay in the industry while expanding my luxury travel expertise. I wanted to meet clients face-to-face. So, I affiliated with Direct Travel, a local Virtuoso brick and mortar office. I knew all the top agents there. This is when my business really exploded,” said Adams.
Well versed in cruises, she gravitated to the luxury hotel and tour operator side of the business.
And her concentration shifted from singles to multi-generational family travel.
“I live in Naples, Florida, where there are a lot of grandparents who want to take grandkids on trips. I love the family dynamics of having everyone together on the trip of a lifetime,” said Adams.
She also set her sights on expanding her destination knowledge.
Drawing once again on that parachute, she invested strategically on fam travel. Now in her eleventh year in the business, she’s been to 70 countries on seven continents.
“I’ve pretty much checked everything off my bucket list. I’m focusing on clients’ dream destinations now,” said Adams.
For Adams clients, Italy is the top favorite in Europe, followed by the UK, France and Spain/Portugal. Iceland —though not inexpensive —tops client wish lists as well.
As for her own destination favorites, Adams cites South Africa, New Zealand, Bali, the Amalfi coast and London, since her husband is British.
As Lynne Adams Travel, LLC, an independent affiliate of Direct Travel, she’s averaged over $1 million per year in gross revenue. And, she has the best of both worlds when it comes to working arrangements.
The Direct Travel office is a 20-minute drive from her home. She works from home, but goes to the office to meet clients and suppliers, and get the latest scoop from colleagues.
“They’re great agents. I’ve known most of them for eight or nine years. We’ve all left one agency and gone to Direct. There’s a great camaraderie there,” said Adams.
Recently, she teamed up with a luxury agent/friend in Tampa, with 35 years of experience.
“We complement each other’s skills in what we bring to our clients; and we back each other up when we travel. We also share an administrative person to do all our invoicing and administrative duties. It’s working very well for all three of us,” said Adams.
She’s finding clients particularly interested in celebratory travel.
“They might be turning 60 and decide they want to trace the family roots in Scotland. Or, they’re celebrating a big milestone of some type. It’s a common link I’m seeing,” said Adams.
Most of her clients have become friends, and most share her philosophy.
“It’s not simply about travel or making money by selling travel. It’s about being an international ambassador when we travel. My goal is for everybody to get a passport,” said Adams.
It helps that she’s determined to explore new travel concepts, destinations and out-of-the-way places to stay.
Over Valentine’s week, Adams attended the inaugural Amour romance travel event in Venice, Italy. The three-day forum by Worldwide Events spotlighted private islands, unique wedding venues, villas and small resorts.
“It was a great event, held during Carnivale. It was nice to be there before the cruise ships arrive. We saw so many properties that may not have enough space to align with the big consortia. But, they have stunning locations. There were agents there from the U.S., Europe and as far away as India and Indonesia. It was great to network. Many of the Europeans hadn’t heard about the babymoon concept, so that was nice to share ideas,” said Adams.
She also attends the LE Miami bespoke travel trade event, and has been to ILTM a few times.
As for marketing, Adams does have a Facebook page and Instagram account.
“I post pictures of beautiful destinations on my business Facebook page. My Iceland photos were off the charts, as far as responses. And I used Twitter when I was stuck on Allegiant Air the other night,” said Adams.
Otherwise, her business comes primarily from referrals and word of mouth. And multi-generational travel remains a top interest.
“If kids are going on a spring break trip and mom or grandma is paying for it, they say, ‘you have to call Lynne.’ They want the kids to be safe, with not too much partying. So, I put them on a secluded island somewhere,” said Adams.
Cruises remain important, especially since she is based in Florida. Again, it’s the family market that gravitates to her.
“I have two families right now that don’t know each other. But they’re both booked on the same Crystal Alaska cruise. It’s a total of 17 people, so that will end up being fun,” said Adams.
From bringing singles together or uniting families, fun is a word that pops up a lot with Adams.
“I had always planned to travel for myself. But now I’m so spoiled. I love it when there’s a fam or one of my other partners have a fam. This is the easiest business I’ve ever been involved in,” she said.