Kate Lawless, 29
River Oaks Travel
Although Kate Lawless is still in her first year as a travel advisor, she’s already on a pace to hit $1 million in sales in 2019. Upon deciding she needed a career change (from fashion), Lawless found River Oaks Travel (then West University Travel), spoke with the owner the next day and found herself accepting a position as a luxury travel advisor by the end of the week.
To help kickstart her career, Lawless recently completed Virtuoso’s Certified Travel Advisor program (for which, she was one of four recipients of the Dale Bancroft Scholarship) and is involved in Virtuoso’s Wellness Community.
Such training is essential because, she says, “There is a renaissance happening in the travel industry right now,” with many travelers seeking more personalized experiences than what Expedia or other online travel agencies can provide. Lawless charges planning fees for every client in order to “make sure that I am compensated for this time even if a client decides not to book, to book with points or if they wind up canceling,” she says.
The most challenging trip that Lawless has worked on is one she’s been putting together since last September. The client was traveling on a Silversea cruise from Australia to Bali but wanted to visit Papua New Guinea prior and Komodo after. Lawless says she learned that “with more time comes more opportunity for problems.” While the planning process was a relative breeze, in time the client’s flight was rescheduled resulting in a missed connection, and an uprising in rural Papua New Guinea meant she had to rework and rebook that portion of the itinerary (including international flights) — and Komodo notified her that it would be closing to tourists. Lawless worked with her ground contacts to ensure her client could still go.