|Ruthanne Terrero, CTC vice president–Content/editorial director|
Welcome to our second annual, “Travel Agent Magazine’s Top 25 All Stars,” which we launched last year to recognize those industry heroes who have been in the business for at least 10 years and have a minimum of $1 million in annual revenue.
This program has significance because the majority of advisors you see featured here were nominated by their managers or consortia heads (We also gave advisors the opportunity to nominate themselves if they felt they had a truly compelling story).
We took into consideration a great deal of information on each nominee. Yes, sales volume was important, but also vital to being selected were the number of certifications the advisor has earned, supplier recognition and anecdotal information on how the individual has dealt with challenging situations. (We also appreciated the somewhat indignant responses we got when we asked the question: “What’s the craziest request the nominee has ever received from a client?” Some replied that they certainly don’t consider any request “crazy;” point well taken, we’ll rephrase that question differently next year!). In the end, when it was simply too difficult to select one nominee over another, we looked to the humanitarian efforts of the individual.
Those who were described as dedicated mentors also got strong consideration, as, of course, did those who had gone out of their way to make their clients’ dream trips come true, especially in the face of major challenges. Michelle Anderson of Admiral Travel International tended to a client seeking to find her family roots by finding her distant relatives in Italy and arranging for them to meet the client at the airport. She also arranged for the parish priest, who had known her family, to spend a day with her. Counseling honeymooners, getting sick (or deceased) clients home from a trip and helping multigenerational travelers celebrate a grandfather’s 80th birthday in Africa are a few other examples of how these agents go above and beyond.
But most of all, the top trait of these advisors is to listen, listen, listen and then execute on the desires of their clients. As FROSCH agent Gina Griffin puts it, “It is my job to engage them in the conversation and get them excited about their trip.” McCabe World Travel’s Michelle Bemis likens her work as an agent to "a conductor orchestrating a symphony.”
Congratulations to this year’s “Top 25 All Stars.” Thank you for being the backbone of this glorious industry and thank you to those managers and consortia executives for recognizing the amazing work you do. They clearly appreciate you and see you as a vital part of their business.
Now, read on to see what makes this year’s winners stand out.