Margot Kong

Margot Kong
Journeys Unparalleled, an affiliate of Travel Experts
San Francisco

When the “dotcom” bubble burst in the early 2000s, Margot Kong quit her career in the financial industry and decided to travel for a while, wondering what to do next. “It dawned on me that between every job, I took time to travel. I realized travel must be my passion,” says Kong. 

Having decided to start a tour company, she sought advice from Guy Rubin and Nancy Kim, who had recently launched luxury operator Imperial Tours. In turn, she realized her own background could be of help to them.

“They needed a sales and marketing presence in the U.S. [That] was my background, even though it was in the financial industry. If you can sell stock, you can sell a tour,” says Kong. Rubin and Kim “brought me in to build up the travel agent side of the business. Most of their business now comes from agents,” she says.

“During that time, my friends and family would regularly call me to ask for travel advice. I’d either refer them to agents or give them free advice. I realized I could be doing it myself and it was time for a change,” she says. She began working evenings and weekends as an agent affiliated with Montecito Village Travel

Realizing she didn’t have time to build her agency business as a sideline, she decided to go all-in. Now, as owner of Journeys Unparalleled, newly affiliated with Travel Experts, she describes herself as a “Personal Travel Shopper.” She’s built her client base from scratch, with help from her two daughters, now 6 and 9. They attend a Chinese immersion school in San Francisco, where like-minded parents form the bulk of Kong’s clientele. 

“Obviously, the families there have an interest in Asia. But they’re globally minded and affluent. They take every school vacation to travel,” says Kong. And, as the kids get older, “they’re more adventurous.” 

She also maintains an active online presence with a blog, website and Facebook page. 

“Facebook is incredibly helpful for getting to know a client,” says Kong. “If I look at their Facebook page, I can see where they’ve been, what their interests are.” 

Margot Kong