Hillary Harpster, 28
Zen Luxury Travel, an Independent Affiliate of Cadence
La Jolla, CA
Hillary Harpster used to be a research analyst for a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C. — until she found herself daydreaming about working in travel. After months of walking past giant posters of beaches and European cities in the American Express Travel office across the street from her office building, she decided to walk in.
“They didn’t have any jobs advertised, but I knew this was my chance to dive into travel,” Harpster says.
The manager there met her with skepticism, she remembers, noting that she had no prior experience working in the industry. But she did have travel experience, having already visited 35 countries as well as living abroad in Germany and Israel.
“My final plea was, ‘If it doesn’t work out, you can just fire me,” she recalls. Six months later, Harpster completed the Travel Research Apprentice program at American Express Travel in record time — on an average, it usually takes a year.
After her first year, Harpster had made more than $1 million in sales and received the highest number of client referrals in her company, beating out 20-year industry veterans in her office. She was nominated for prestigious accolades as well, including the Club Med Millennial 2017 Advisory Board and the 2017 ASTA Extra Mile Award. Not to mention, only three years into the industry, she went on to launch Zen Luxury Travel, her own agency and an independent affiliate of Cadence.
One of Hillary’s clients, Gerald Gold, describes her as professional and personable, with outstanding attention to detail. “Working with her is always a pleasure. She is reliable and consistently goes the extra mile to maximize our travel experiences,” he adds.