Randy Maged, Travel Maven

Randy Maged is a self-described travel fanatic, and a woman who wears many hats. For example, the energetic agent moonlights as co-host of "Tilley Talks Travel," a weekly radio show about travel. Randy Maged

Maged's varied interests are what brought her into the travel industry. In the late '70s, she developed a passion for skiing. A writer at the time, she thought she'd try earning a living by combining her interests to write about skiing.

Maged learned to ski at MountTremblant in Canada. Finding little press at the time for Eastern ski resorts, she asked a printer about writing a book about them. She took the result, a 400- or 500-page blank book, to ski resorts, and sold advertising. The finished product covered the resorts as well as where to stay and shop. Maged says it was a natural progression to go from writing about skiing to writing about travel, and later she worked at a public relations firm that specialized in travel. With family and friends constantly prodding her about where to go and what to see, she made the move to the retail side of things and started selling travel.

Shopping is a key activity on many of Maged's trips

Today, this home-based agent, whose host agency is Nexion, which she has been with for a little more than a year, has extended her expertise to the four corners of the globe with her seven-year-old home-based travel agency, Ask the Travel Maven LLC. She's still a fan of Western Europe, but once exposed to the remote places of the world, "It sort of upped the ante," she says. "I really try very hard to encourage clients to expand their horizons. People love the Caribbean and Mexico...But, people don't realize how mentally calming and relaxing it is to go to a world so completely unfamiliar. That's what's so great about Africa and Asia...It's a mind expander."

Specializing in Niche Travel

Most of Maged's excursions are specialized and include a variety of niche journeys, ranging from culinary and wine tasting groups just for women, to shopping extravaganzas all over the globe. She describes her jewelry-buying trips to Hong Kong as "pure, unadulterated retail therapy." Her Hong Kong trips also include visiting other types of markets.

Now, she's planning jewelry-shopping trips in Bangkok and India. "Jewelry is a common denominator that brings all women together. Everyone seems to want to see and buy the sparkly stuff. Jewelry is the great glue of womankind. Shopping is usually the main theme and then you throw in culture, native dancing and sightseeing," Maged says.

Other journeys include trips to Paris for couples, or for women only, where, among other things, they can attend seasonal fashion shows. Maged's trips to Italy include taking a Travel Maven bus to all the outlets and major designer stores. In many of the cities in Italy, designer shops close their doors to the public so her clients can have private shopping time.

Maged works hard, so she's choosy when hiring new agents. She has to see their passion for travel, and they must have a tolerance for frustration and a certain nonchalance over making money. Maged usually hires clients. "They see how hard I work for them...after a few years, I can tell how passionate they are about travel."