Top Supplier Sales Reps

A travel advisor’s job would be even more challenging than it already is without the insight and support of sales representatives from the various industry companies that you use when booking a trip. We asked you, our readers, to pick the ones you feel are the best in the business. All nominees were written in; all we supplied were the categories. Here, gleaned the hundreds of responses we received, are your choices for top supplier sales reps of 2012.

 

Kelly Corbett
Kelly Corbett

OCEAN CRUISING

FIRST PLACE
Kelly Corbett
Royal Caribbean International
Business Development Manager, Northeast Region
Kelly Corbett has worked in the travel industry for nearly 20 years, and fell in love with cruising on her first trip on the Song of Norway. “I made a personal goal that someday I would work for Royal Caribbean,” she says. Fifteen years later, she was offered the position of business development manager for the line, and today, she covers half of Connecticut, Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Corbett attributes her success to her motivation and her genuine enjoyment of the job. “It is derived from the opportunity offered to me to make a difference in helping to grow my agents’ business,” she says. “It’s a true partnership, since we work together to expand both of our businesses and can’t do it without each other.”

 

 

Louise Habrack
Louise Habrack

SECOND PLACE
Louise Habrack

Royal Caribbean International
Business Development Manager, Northeast Region
Louise Habrack began her work in the travel industry 35 years ago, working for the airline and cruise sectors focusing on customer service and sales and marketing management. She has held her position as the Northeast strategic business development manager and business development manager of New Jersey and New York since 2007. In her position, she has built relationships with major nationwide corporations, associations, travel management companies and leisure travel partners to increase revenues and sales goals and improve productivity. Habrack credits her success within the company to her passion for the business, attention to her partners’ priorities and a “softer hint of humor.”

 

 

 

Robert Tolster
Robert Tolster

THIRD PLACE
Robert Tolster
Royal Caribbean International
Business Development Manager, Northeast Region
Robert Tolster took his first cruise in 2002 and was hooked from the start. “Is there any other way to vacation?” he asks rhetorically. He decided that if an opportunity to work for a cruise company ever came his way, he’d seize it. By 2004, he was working for Royal Caribbean in the Groups Department. From there, Tolster moved to the sales support team supporting the Northeast Region and later strategic accounts before accepting the position of business development manager for Long Island, N.Y., in 2007. “My success stems from not only my desire to succeed and to make a difference, but also from the immense respect I have for the travel agent community in my territory,” he says.

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Kris Emery
Kris Emery

SMALL SHIP CRUISES

FIRST PLACE
Kris Emery
Silversea
Regional Sales Manager, Northeast
Kris Emery has been an industry sales rep for nearly 15 years, beginning her career representing Royal Caribbean, where she managed the New York/New Jersey territory. In 2011, Emery took a position with Silversea as a regional sales director. “It’s easy to be passionate about a brand when you truly believe it’s the best in the market,” she says. In order to be successful, Emery had to master three concepts: fostering care for the travel agent community and becoming an advocate for them; educating agents so that they would know everything possible about the line she represented; and being visible, accessible and responsive. Emery believes that responsiveness, resourcefulness and a willingness to go the extra mile are the most important factors to success.

 

Nancy Gonzales
Nancy Gonzales

SECOND PLACE
Nancy Gonzales
Silversea
Regional Sales Director, West Coast
Nancy Gonzales began her travel career in 1989 working as vice president of sales for Westward Travel, a regional motorcoach tour operator in the Los Angeles area. Gonzales specialized in group travel, including motorcoach tours and cruises. She became regional sales manager for American Hawaii Cruises in the Orange County/Southern California area, and later joined Holland America Line as district sales manager for Louisiana, Arkansas,
Mississippi and Tennessee. In 2005, she joined Silversea as the regional sales manager for a portion of Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona and Utah, which she continues to manage today—and does so quite successfully based on the response from our readers.  

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Elyse Reilly
Elyse Reilly

RIVER CRUISES

First Place
Elyse Reilly
Uniworld Boutique
River Cruise Collection
Sales Manager,
New York and New England
Elyse Reilly is a repeat winner, also recognized for her efforts and expertise in 2010. She began her career in the travel industry by working on ships for Norwegian Cruise Line back in late 1990s before becoming an agent for Liberty Travel and moving on as a regional customer service manager with Travelsavers in Oyster Bay, N.Y. In 2001, Reilly became a sales manager for Uniworld, primarily covering New York. Over time, she inherited six more states and now covers New York and New England. Reilly attributes her background as a travel agent to the source of her drive to offer the best service possible to the agent community. “They are the greatest supporters of our product, in which our success hinges upon,” says Reilly.

 

Patricia Riley
Patricia Riley

SECOND PLACE
Patricia Riley
AMA Waterways
Business Development Manager
Patricia Riley has been working in the cruise industry for more than 30 years. She started as a travel agent—so she understands well the retail side of the business—before becoming a regional sales manager for Royal Cruise Line. Afterward, she moved on to become a regional sales manager at Cunard Line for New Jersey and Philadelphia before a merger with Seabourn Cruise Line, where she was regional sales manager for the Northeast U.S. representing Seabourn exclusively. She joined AMA Waterways in 2011. Her goal, she says, is to help travel agents be successful and in turn contribute to the success of AMA Waterways.

 

THIRD PLACE
Barbara Canizio
Globus and Cosmos
(Avalon Waterways)
Business Development Manager for Metro NY and Long Island
Barbara Canizio has been a part of the cruise industry for over 30 years. She began her career in the airline industry before moving to outside sales with Club Med, Far & Wide, and Apple Vacations. In 2006, Canizio joined the sales team of the Globus family of brands, including Avalon Waterways in New York. Canizio attributes her success to quality of the product Avalon Waterways provides, and the quality of the travel agents with whom she works.

Barbara Canizio
Barbara Canizio

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Daniel Scheiman
Daniel Scheiman

HOTELS AND RESORTS

First Place
Daniel Scheiman
Karisma Hotels
Regional Sales and Marketing Manager
A native of Mexico City, Scheiman feels “that the travel industry offered an excellent opportunity for me to become an ambassador for Mexico.” He has been with Karisma Hotels for nearly three years now. “On my first visit to the U.S., I was invited to share a holiday experience with three separate agents and their families. Their warm welcome and hospitality assured me that this was the path I was meant to take.” He urges all future sales and marketing managers to “get to know your agents and their specific needs.” One of his main goals is to help restore the image of Mexico. “Mexico is a very large country and there are many areas that are safe to visit. The people are honest, hard working and very friendly. Repairing the image of traveling to Mexico can only be achieved one person at a time.”

SECOND PLACE(tie)
Bruce Metzendorf
Club Med
Director of Sales and Marketing, Northeast
Bruce Metzendorf has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years, having held various sales positions for hotels/resorts, tour operators, airlines and consolidators. As a Club Med GO (a company term meaning “gracious organizer”) for two years, he worked in several Club Med “villages” in Mexico and the Caribbean. From there, he held several positions with tour operators, consolidators and airlines before returning to Club Med in 2002 to manage the Connecticut and New York State territory. He is currently looking forward to a new opportunity covering the Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Central New Jersey region. “An industry colleague once told me that we don’t sell travel or even dreams; we sell experiences,” he says. “It’s the memories of these experiences that should exceed travelers’ expectations.”

Bruce Metzendorf
Bruce Metzendorf

SECOND PLACE (tie)
Ginny Singer
Palace Resorts
Business Development Management, West Coast
Ginny Singer started in the travel industry as a travel agent back in the late 1980s, and joined the Palace Resorts sales team in January of 2004. “Travel has always been my passion since a very young age, reading my grandmother’s travel journals from around the world and listening to my father’s stories from all the places he was stationed at during World War II,” she says. For sales representatives just starting out, she urges to “know your product, be passionate, provide knowledge, and share ideas and useful sales tools to help agents sell.” She feels that her team is “the hardest working and best sales team in the industry, truly helping agents achieve success.”

Ginny Singer
Ginny Singer

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ALL-INCLUSIVES

First Place
Bruce Metzendorf
Club Med
Director of Sales and Marketing, Northeast
It’s safe to say this has been a great year for Bruce Metzendorf, who also finished in a tie for second place for our Hotels/Resorts category. On finishing first in the All-Inclusive category, he says, “I am even more certain that my dedication and commitment to my industry partners is critical to doing business. I am honored to be recognized and look forward to continuing to strengthen these relationships with the ultimate goal of providing top-level customer service and an incomparable product.”

SECOND PLACE
 

Graeme Laudenslager
Graeme Laudenslager

Graeme Laudenslager
Club Med
District Sales Manager,
Los Angeles and Ventura Counties
Graeme Laudenslager has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years, working for tour operators, owning
an incentive travel agency, and being a tour guide in the Pacific Rim. He has been part of the Club Med team for
five years and says his love for travel started in school with a fascination for geography. “The job of a sales representative is not only building relation-
ships and updating travel agents on the product,” he says. “Marketing plays an important role in the success of an agency, and implementing marketing plans with top agencies is a must. A successful sales rep is always looking for ways to create business and thinking outside the box.”

 

 

Justin Heckman
Justin Heckman

THIRD PLACE
Justin Heckman
Club Med
District Sales Manager,
Chicago and Midwest
Justin Heckman was bitten by the travel bug when he was six and traveled to Paris with his mother. Roughly 20 years later, he moved to Paris and was recruited by Club Med to work in the reservations center on the UK team. He became a team supervisor and later opened and managed a new reservations center for Club Med in London. “I love the adventure of travel, the chance to experience different cultures and meet different people,” he says. As for tips for becoming a great sales person, Heckman feels that the two most important elements are to “be responsive and be reliable. If you say you are going to do something, do it—and treat each agency like a VIP whether they make one booking or 100.”

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Sue Sheehan
Sue Sheehan

TOUR OPERATORS
AND WHOLESALERS

First Place
Sue Sheehan
Travel Impressions
Director of Sales, Northeast/Business Development Manager for
Eastern PA and Southern NJ
Sue Sheehan is a rare “three-peat” sales representative, having been honored every year Travel Agent has held the Top Supplier Sales Reps awards. She started as a travel agent in 1995, where she says she learned from the best people in the industry before joining Travel Impressions in 1998. She has been selected as a three-time “Pacesetter” for American Express and helped create the “cancel for any reason” waiver, one of the first in the travel protection plans. Specializing in land and air vacations, she visits agents throughout eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey and trains them to develop new business. She has been with Travel Impressions for 14 years as of June and credits her staying power to a true love of her job. “My agents are very special to me and make my job really enjoyable,” she says. “The agents are family to me and I have made lots of wonderful industry partners and friends over the many years.”

 

Jennifer Reynolds
Jennifer Reynolds

SECOND PLACE
Jennifer Reynolds
Trafalgar
District Sales Manager
Growing up in a small town in Canada, Jennifer Reynolds knew at a young age that her future would be in the travel industry. In college, she held various positions at hotels including front desk, night audit and food and beverage. Upon graduation, she worked with a Canadian tour operator as a destination representative and later managed shore excursions on cruise ships for 13 years. “Travel changes people’s lives and brings the cultures of our world closer together—and I am a part of that; a part of an industry that makes a difference in the lives of others and in our world. And I cherish that.”

 

 

 

 

Lil Musmanno
Lil Musmanno

THIRD PLACE
Lil Musmanno
Classic Vacations
Account Executive and
Business Development Manager
Lil Musmanno is another repeat winner, having graced these pages in 2010. She began her career in the industry as a travel agent, then agency owner and then as district sales manager for Carlson Wagonlit’s Associate Program, followed by national sales manager for Travel Impressions. For the past 13 years, Musmanno has been with Classic Vacations as a business development manager covering New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and Bermuda. “My best day of the week is when an agent and I can together resolve a challenge for one of Classic’s most difficult clients—love when that happens,” she says.

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Frank Salmonese
Frank Salmonese

CAR RENTAL

Frank Salmonese
Auto Europe/Fly International
Sales Manager
This year marks the second time in a row Frank Salmonese has been recognized as a top supplier sales rep, having been honored in 2010. This year, however, his was the only name in this category submitted by readers. Salmonese began his travel career in the reservations department at French Line more than 48 years ago and worked his way up to senior sales representative. He then worked for Holland America, Carras Cruises and Sun Line/Royal Olympic Cruises as regional sales manager and vice president of sales. He joined Auto Europe in 2004 as sales manager for the New York area. “I value the support of the travel agents, and in turn support them in whatever way I can,” Salmonese says. “I will never forget that before the Internet, travel agents were responsible for the success of many suppliers that are in business today.”

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Kathie DeVincenzo
Kathie DeVincenzo

CONSORTIA

First Place
Kathie DeVincenzo
Travelsavers
Northeast Business Development Manager
Another repeat winner, honored in the same role in 2010, Kathie DeVincenzo has more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry. She started out as an agent and then became a field sales representative for several top hotel companies, including SuperClubs and Palace Resorts. In her day-to-day role as business development manager, DeVincenzo places an emphasis on trust and the importance of relationship building—two factors to which she attributes her success. She is a member of Travel Agents of Brooklyn and Staten Island (TABS), Eastern Travel Association (ETA) and the Association of Central Travel Agents (CTA) in New Jersey. At presstime, DeVincenzo had left Travelsavers to pursue other career opportunities and we wish her continued success in her endeavours.

 

Pamela Irwin
Pamela Irwin

SECOND PLACE
Pamela Irwin
Ensemble Travel Group
Business Development Director,
Western Region
As business development director for the Western U.S., Pamela Irwin is responsible for providing daily, hands-on support to help members in her territory capitalize on their Ensemble benefits. Before she held this position, she worked in managerial roles for CSA Travel Protection, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Hard Rock Cafes. As one of 10 children, Irwin attributes her success to living out her core values and having an upbeat attitude. “My parents taught me that you can accomplish anything you set out to do—as long as you work hard and are guided by a plan,” she says.
 

 

 

 

 

Rosemary Sarkis
Rosemary Sarkis

THIRD PLACE

Rosemary Sarkis
NEST (Network of Entrepreneurs
Selling Travel)
Business Development Manager
With more than 25 years of experience in customer service in different areas of the travel industry, Rosemary Sarkis’ career has taken her from the agent side to working on the supplier side at Travel Impressions and now to the increasingly important realm of consortia at Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST). Another repeat winner—having previously been honored by the readers of Travel Agent in 2010—Sarkis attributes her success to her past experience as a home-based and retail travel agent, coupled with her desire to learn and always go the extra mile. “This provides me with the ability to better understand the challenges of NEST member agencies and provide in-the-know skills to turn those challenges into success stories,” she says. 

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Carlos Cividanes
Carlos Cividanes

TRAVEL INSURANCE

FIRST PLACE
Carlos Cividanes
TravelSafe Insurance
Director, National Accounts
Carlos Cividanes feels that his greatest professional challenge is the same one facing the entire third-party travel insurance industry: “Helping travel agents understand the significant differences that exist between selling supplier insurance and selling a quality third-party travel insurance plan.” While he feels that offering third-party travel insurance differentiates agents from web-based travel sites, provides a higher level of protection to clients, helps to protect their business from liability issues, adds a substantial revenue stream and even protects earned revenue through commission protection, many agents still hesitate to offer it, he notes. Cividanes says that he owes his success to the team at TravelSafe and the travel agents he meets all over the country.

 

 

 

Dan Povondra
Dan Povondra

SECOND PLACE

Dan Povondra
Travelex Insurance Services
Regional Sales Manager
Dan Povondra joined Travelex in 2000 and became regional sales manager in 2005 for territory, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Upstate New York. He started in the business when he was in college, and is still around 12 years later. “The greatest challenge we face in the travel industry is overcoming the unexpected obstacles,” he says. “A key to success for me is being able to work as part of a great team...I also try to be as accessible as possible to customers, even when I am out of the office. What I enjoy most about working in this industry are the relationships I am able to build with customers.”

 

 

 

 

 

Connie Gelhaus
Connie Gelhaus

THIRD PLACE
Connie Gelhaus
Travel Guard Chartis
Director of Sales
Connie Gelhaus’ employment at Travel Guard started in 2008. She moved from Minneapolis to Wisconsin, where Travel Guard is headquartered, and eventually made the move back to Minneapolis
when the insurance provider developed an outside sales position there. The biggest challenge with her position has been learning the ins and outs of insurance. The second challenge is turning insurance lingo into words that the public can understand. “Being fully aware that insurance isn’t the ‘sexy’ side of travel, it is my goal to make my job, my trainings and my relationships as entertaining as possible...because at the end of the day, if we can have a chuckle over insurance, it’s a win for everyone!”


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John Downing
John Downing

GDS Provider

John Downing
Sabre Travel Network
Account Director
John Downing, the only nominee in the GDS category, earned his bachelor’s degree in applied science and engineering from the University of Toronto. While earning his MBA at the Rotman School of Management, he read about Sabre and thought it would be a great company to work for. “Even though I had no experience in the travel industry, Sabre gave me a chance,” he remembers. After 16 years at the company, he credits his success to having a strong team to work with, “as well as having an excellent vice president and mentor.” He tries to work with the philosophy that “every problem is an opportunity,” and aims to keep strong relationships with his customers. He has traveled to all 50 states of the U.S. as well as to more than 80 countries and 20 territories.

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Lorine Charles-St. Jules
Lorine Charles-St. Jules

INTERNATIONAL TOURIST BOARDS

FIRST PLACE (tie)
Lorine Charles-St. Jules
St. Lucia Tourist Board
Regional Marketing Manager
After a short stint in the hotel industry, Charles-St. Jules moved on to the Ministry of Tourism in St. Lucia as a product development officer, analyzing government projects, including hotel development, restaurants, parks and recreational sites and attractions. Then she moved to New York to join the St. Lucia Tourist Board USA operations. Some fun facts about Charles-St. Jules are that her late father was the onsite contractor in St. Lucia for the movies Superman, Romancing the Stone and Fire Power and that she is a former national table tennis champion. “I love interacting with people and hearing and sharing stories on travel experiences,” she says. “I get complete satisfaction from business partners who have closed a sale or have had satisfied returning guests who enjoyed an off-the-beaten-track experience.”

 

Philip Rose
Philip Rose

FIRST PLACE (tie)
Philip Rose
Jamaica Tourist Board
Regional Director, Canada
Rose became regional director in Canada for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in January. Prior to being appointed to head the JTB’s Toronto office, Philip was posted in the U.S. Beginning in early 1998, he was the business development manager of the Jamaica Tourist Board in the U.S with responsibilities in several midwestern states where he increased tourist arrivals dramatically in just the first year. “I’m grateful to the travel agent community for the support they’ve given me throughout my career,” says Rose. “From Chicago to Wisconsin to Dallas and [now] Toronto, agents have always embraced me and my family. I knew it was more than a job when a group of travel partners threw my wife and I a baby shower.”

 

 

 

 

 

Eusi Skeete
Eusi Skeete

FIRST PLACE (tie)
Eusi Skeete
Barbados Tourism Authority
Business Development Manager
The tourism industry is a significant contributor to Barbados’ economy and as a result, Skeete was exposed to its importance at an early age, although “I never envisioned that I would pursue a career in the industry and 17 years later continue to enjoy the diversity, excitement and rewards that this industry has afforded me,” he says. Skeete attributes his success to both his passion for Barbados and the industry in general. “I enjoy educating the agent community on all the unique elements Barbados affords its visitors,” he says. “I am confident in the diversity of Barbados’ tourism product and in the ability of our on-island partners to deliver. This assurance affords me the opportunity to provide the necessary support that the agent community requires.”