Randy Maged is a self-described travel fanatic, and a woman who wears many hats. When Home-Based Travel Agent spoke with Maged, earlier that morning she was contemplating what to discuss on "Tilley Talks Travel," a weekly radio show all about travel for which she was recently bumped up from biweekly, permanent guest to co-host. "The show is always great, I'm just a last-minute person. I really end up winging it at the end," Maged says. She usually sways towards leisure and fun topics. This particular morning, her co-host, Marcus Tilley, picked the topic—a story about Steve Trover, who owns Star Vacations.com in Orlando, near the theme parks, and rents out luxury houses for what he says is half of what Walt Disney World charges. Agent Bio
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 Mount Tremblant in Canada. Finding little press at the time for Eastern ski resorts, she asked a printer in her building 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 not only covered the resorts but also included where to stay and shop, so Maged says it was a natural progression to go from writing about skiing to writing about travel.
And 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: She went right from being a writer to an agency owner.
Today, with her seven-year-old travel agency, Ask the Travel Maven LLC, Maged has extended her expertise to the four corners of the globe. Nearly 100 percent of her client base is leisure.
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."
Maged currently has five agents working with her. When hiring new agents, she has to see their passion for travel. Other top assets include a tolerance for frustration and a certain nonchalance over making money. Maged usually hires clients. "They see how hard I work for them and, after a few years, I can tell how passionate they are about travel."
When choosing suppliers, Maged looks for great service and the ability to exceeding clients' expectations. She says Relais & Ch?aux is one of the finest hotel associations in the world, and Starwood properties are also top picks. In the way of cruise lines, she says Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal and Regent are the way to go.