Esther Klijn, 24
New York City
For some, post-graduation life is rife with uncertainties, with too many career paths from which to choose. But Esther Klijn had a plan in mind: to go to New York City.
She knew only one person in New York: her college roommate’s mother. It turned out to be the right person to know. “She is an independent contractor at Tzell Travel [part of Travel Leaders Group] and introduced me to the right people who decided to take a chance on me,” Klijn says.
She began her journey in an administrative position, and then became a full-fledged advisor in CIRE Travel’s leisure department. Already, she is planning intricate trips. Klijn recently put together a 39-day trip through New Zealand and Australia for a retired couple. What she thought was relatively small evolved into something huge.
“The daughter and son-in-law joined for the New Zealand portion of the trip, so now two clients turned into four. I designed the entire itinerary from scratch without utilizing a DMC in order to stretch the value of the client’s dollar,” Klijn says.
Although Klijn did not study to become a travel advisor, she spent a year in Torino, Italy, pursuing a BS degree in Wine and Viticulture. Her “learn by going” experience abroad is one she applies to her work.
“Traveling to a destination and experiencing it firsthand makes it much easier to convey the essence of it to your client. You have your own stories to share and that personal connection really helps when educating the client,” Klijn says.
And her efforts have generated positive customer responses. “Our clients rave about Esther,” says Eric Hrubant, president of CIRE Travel, adding that they also are continually asking her for wine recommendations.