Travel Agent is proud to announce its latest class of its 30Under30—rising stars in the travel industry, who have earned acclaim for innovative strategies, putting together impressive itineraries, and much more. The 30Under30 were all self-nominated and were selected by the Travel Agent's editorial team; advisors could be selected as long as they turned 30 by the end of 2022.

Without any further ado, we would like to introduce...

Katie Bellino Adams
Bell Adams Travel (affiliate of Direct Travel)
Charlotte, NC

Katie Bellino Adams Bell Adams Travel

After a stint in the HR solutions world and working in both the luxury hotel and luxury cruise spaces, Katie Bellino Adams gained the confidence to launch her own Charlotte-based boutique agency in 2022 called Bell Adams Travel, an independent affiliate of Direct Travel. “It was the best decision I ever made,” she said.

For Adams, the travel industry was pre-ordained, as she is a third-generation travel professional. “I have had the good fortune of experiencing many of the world’s most beautiful destinations and those experiences led me to becoming a travel advisor,” she said.

Last year, Adams received two Going the Extra Mile (GEM) awards from Direct Travel. “The first award was for highest percentage of preferred supplier sales across the U.S. with a one million dollar minimum as well as highest average yield,” she explained. She is a Diamond Advisor; the Diamond level recognizes advisors with a minimum of two million dollars in annual productivity.

Another honor came when the hospitality company, Belmond, asked her to participate as a panelist on the topic of marketing to young, affluent travelers. “I spoke on the importance of social media and branding to attract this clientele during a webinar that Belmond broadcasted globally,” said Adams.

Adams’ clients, ranging from ages 20s to 60s, traverse the globe, with itineraries booked in most of the continents, plus Mexico and the Caribbean. After a recent trip to Italy herself, Adams has been positioning Sicily as an alternative to the Amalfi Coast, as she found that it offers the allure of the Amalfi coast but with less crowds and a more authentic feel, adding, “I fell in love with the Sicilian gastronomy, beautiful vistas, and Taormina’s old world feel.”

In addition to luxurious hotel stays, her clients are also looking for unique, out-of-the-box experiences. “A few of my recent favorites have been a visit to an atelier in Milan for a family with a daughter keen on fashion and an eco-farm visit in Iceland for clients interested in sustainable faming and tourism,” she said.

Her achievements have not gone unnoticed by her agency. Calling her a rising star, Vivienne Kouba, SVP Leisure U.S. of Direct Travel, said, “In 2022, Katie was ready to launch her own independent travel brand. Working with social media and building sold referrals, Katie’s business has grown rapidly with the kind of luxury clients who want to work with an experienced, well-traveled passionate travel advisor. Her clients trust her to deliver the next level experience, customized to their needs, and built with the support of her many industry partners and connections.”

Abigail Batiuk
Kristen Meckem Travel (affiliate of Brownell Travel)
McMinnville, OR

Abigail Batiuk
Abigail Batiuk  (Kristen Meckem Travel)

Abigail Batiuk’s grandfather told her that the best decisions make themselves, and for her, embarking on a career in travel lives up to that motto. Before becoming a travel advisor for the Oregon-based Kristen Meckem Travel, an affiliate of Brownell Travel, she was a tasting room and events manager at a winery. “My role in the wine industry gave me the opportunity to work in a hospitality and leisure role on a local scale, and I was ready to expand my knowledge and provide experiences to clients globally,” she said.

In fact, planning trips revolving around wine is in her wheelhouse and she is working hard to further develop this lane. Batiuk is in the midst of planning an intricate custom wine trip for 22 people spanning 10 nights and four destinations within Greece. She also recently visited Napa and was able to share her personal experiences on social media to inspire clients. “From sipping Napa sparkling wine made in the traditional method around a private patio fire pit to watching hot air balloons rise above the mists on a chilly morning, we showcase the things that make a region truly special,” said Batiuk.

Batiuk’s client base includes both families and couples, so she tries to accommodate all of their needs, such as resorts with great hospitality and kid-friendly amenities and activities for families and romantic properties without kids for couples. The destinations to which she plans trips are boundless; her clients, ranging from age 12 to late 70s, are traveling to a variety of European countries along with Monaco, Alaska and Hawaii. “There is nothing more wonderful than sending a client, couple or family on a dream trip and receiving photos of them smiling and enjoying themselves; it brings a person so much joy,” says Batiuk.

When she’s not planning vacations or traveling to destinations herself, she is helping to make her office more efficient. Affectionately nicknamed “Elle Jobs” (after Elle Wood in “Legally Blonde" and Steve Jobs), Batiuk has recently helped her office go paperless. She also developed templates and travel agreements and trained her colleagues on the new platforms and procedures.

This dedication has earned her accolades from Kerry Dyer, chief development officer at Brownell Travel, who said, “Her talent for organizing client trips crosses over to back-of-house infrastructure. She implemented new CRM and task management systems for Kristen Meckem Travel. Abigail’s many contributions have resulted in 100 percent growth in agency sales. We are grateful to have this rising star in our community.”

Melissa Chaquea
CIRE Travel
New York, New York

Melissa Chaquea
Melissa Chaquea (CIRE Travel)

It can be challenging for young travel advisors to design itineraries for knowledgeable clients who have the means to travel however and wherever their hearts desire. But at just 26, Melissa Chaquea has proven herself in doing just that as a luxury travel consultant at CIRE Travel, an affiliate of First in Service.

Chaquea has only worked in the field for four years, but she has already been part of the team for two of the last three wins claimed by CIRE in which “The Knot” named them “Best of Weddings” in the planning category.

Chaquea first knew she had a passion for the industry while she was a senior at Rutgers University, working as a marketing intern at CIRE Travel and assisting the leisure team. She was eventually asked to join the company. For this rising star, that was an easy “yes.”

What keeps her momentum going? “I thrive on the feeling that an idea that once seemed like a dream can become an experience clients will never forget,” she says. “Travel can seem scary, impossible, or unreachable without proper guidance. I genuinely love to be the hand that guides, for our most well-traveled clients, to those who are taking their first international vacation.”

At CIRE, Chaquea is tasked with designing travel for clients who can afford to splurge on a crème de la crème property but are looking for more boutique, intimate properties where they can grab lunch at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant with the best dish in town. “Of course, we can do all the fancy stuff ,too,” she adds. “But the charm and fun about this job is that we know people who know people, and thus so do our clients. We allow them to elevate their experience and take their knowledge of the world to new depths versus getting a surface level understanding of a new destination.”

The smartest thing Chaquea has done this year to help CIRE thrive was making a decision to take on fewer clients. She says before, when CIRE’s leisure team may have been hesitant to turn away business, they now vet clients to see if they are a good fit for the agency and its advisors. In turn, clients have become loyal and plan repeat trips. In fact Chaquea is currently working on four repeat client trips alone.

Olivia Clennon
Liv Travel (affiliate of Travel Quest, a member of Travel Leaders)
West Fargo, ND

Olivia Clennon
Olivia Clennon  (Liv Travel)

Not many people her age open their own travel agency at the age of 24, but Olivia Clennon is no ordinary travel agent. “Travel had been a lifelong passion of mine that was further ignited when I spent a year living in Turkey as a foreign exchange student at 15 years old,” said Clennon, who is also completing her BS in Business Management, with the goal of expanding her business and continuing her travel education post-graduation.

In fact, education is paramount to her, and she is always learning and growing. “The ongoing education and building of skills not only allow me to become a better travel advisor, but makes this career one that contributes to my own self-development. Being a travel advisor is challenging in all the right ways. It’s a great career for passionate individuals that are detail oriented and have great customer service skills. This career is a perfect fit for my strengths in researching and planning,” said Clennon.

She loves the dynamic and exciting aspects of the industry that allow her to have a direct impact on her clients’ travel experiences. Clennon values her many positive client reviews and testimonials, and she loves to hear about her clients’ adventures after they’ve returned. “Being able to choose the scope of the destinations and suppliers I work with, and build relationships with a wide variety of both suppliers and clients, are other draws to being a travel advisor,” she said.

Clennon enjoys a challenge, such as when she coordinated a shipment of a ‘must-have’ drink that was unavailable at a client’s luxury villa in St. Lucia. Like many agents, she travels so she can plan similar trips for her customers; recently she cruised to Puerto Plata and Bimini. In fact, she has been encouraging clients to join her next time she’s on board and has arranged to set sail with a group of 30-plus clients in the near future. This aligns with her interest in off-the-beaten path destinations, as many of her clients are traveling internationally for the first time.

Because of her efforts in networking and in creating connections and in social media groups, her sales have increased tenfold in the last year.

The founder of Travel Quest, Bonnie Lee, calls Clennon a rising star. “Olivia is stellar at helping her clients plan the perfect vacation, getaway or destination wedding. The moment clients take their first steps on a resort, their dreams are realized because the right questions were asked and acted on. Olivia has the perfect conversation style when presenting options, weaving each of the dream elements into the trip proposal seamlessly. Her hunger for education covers all areas, from how to run a business to destinations and suppliers; she is always looking to learn one more thing.”

Rachel Crowe
Avondale Travel
Jacksonville, FL

Rachel Crowe
Rachel Crowe  (Avondale Travel)

Rachel Crowe entered the luxury travel industry just after she graduated from college—in the middle of the pandemic. But her love of travel began several years earlier, when she worked in the brochure room and fell in love with the photos of destinations; she also worked as an executive assistant for her current employer, invoicing, researching, and working on a bit of group hotel travel.

Only slightly over a year after going to work full time, she was promoted to the director of leisure travel at Avondale Travel in Jacksonville, FL.

“It is such an amazing feeling to be able to take someone’s ideas and turn them into reality,” she said. She also loves the collaboration within the industry. “I love that advisors do not see each other as competition but rather as allies, that we are all on the same side.”

Crowe knows that, as a luxury advisor, experiencing travel is important in order to make firsthand recommendations to clients. “Last April, I visited Italy for the first time. I have been promoting the destinations I visited, like Capri and Florence. I have also been booking clients on a golf cart tour in Rome,” she said, adding that the latter experience has been a favorite among her clients.

The majority of Crowe’s clients prefer luxury FIT itineraries to Europe and South America, which are fairly intricate to plan. They’ve also been traveling to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and sailing on river cruises, adding pre- and post-stays.

Crowe said that charging up-front, non-refundable planning fees as well as working closely with her Virtuoso partners has helped to keep her commission structure high. “The best piece of advice I have received is to not sell myself short; that I am worth the fees that I charge,” she said.

Managing Director Sandy Harbison said that it is not an understatement to refer to Crowe as the agency’s biggest asset, as she is a self-starter, fast learner, and she is able to relate to people of all ages. “Rachel is intuitive and anticipates the needs of her clients on a daily basis. Rachel soaks up so much knowledge as possible on a destination and shares that knowledge with her clients and co-workers,” says Harbison. She notes that a client once said that they wanted an advisor with “more experience” than Crowe. “That client quickly changed her mind after a 30-minute meeting; she has become one of Rachel’s best clients and biggest supporters, and she has referred several other travelers to Rachel,” says Harbison.

Tara DeThomasis
Jet Set Getaways
Wyckoff, NJ

Tara DeThomasis
Tara DeThomasis  (Jet Set Getaways)

Tara DeThomasis worked as a hospital business administrator after graduating from college but after about a year, decided to transition into travel. Through mutual friends, she found her current job as a client services specialist with Jet Set Getaways in Wycoff, NJ. Over the past several years, she has been concentrating on building up her own client base and said that she loves helping people create lifelong memories.

DeThomasis would not hesitate to recommend a career in travel to those in her age group. “Being young makes it so easy to travel anywhere in the world. Last year, I spent three weeks in Greece, as I had not been there before and we were starting to see more and more requests for this destination. I was easily able to pick up and go to really immerse myself and learn about the hotels and destinations,” she said.

The plan is to hit other popular locations so she can bring back recommendations for clients; last year she also traveled to Ireland and Paris. Besides Europe, her clients have been traveling to the Caribbean and Mexico. “We also do a good number of honeymoon/couples trips as well as families and multi-gen trips,” said DeThomasis.

The more challenging trips to plan are for those destinations she has not personally been to. But even if she has not been to those destinations, she tries to find out what the clients like and book accordingly. “Having good service is really important, especially coming out of the pandemic. Breakfast is always a favorite amenity for clients, and for experiences, boat trips are always a must in coastal towns,” she said.

DeThomasis has one key piece of advice for those starting out as a luxury travel advisor: “Never assume that someone won’t pay for a service or higher room category, and never assume that the answer is ‘no’ without asking first,” she said.

Julie Shotmeyer, CEO and co-founder of Jet Set Getaways, has nothing but praise for DeThomasis. “Tara is the epitome of what JSG has looked for in a team member. She has greatly developed into someone my company can fully trust with our clientele. I know she makes decisions as we would, when it comes to any interactions, to be the best for the company. I am so proud of Tara and her growth over the last five years,” said Shotmeyer.

Jacqueline Drapeau
White Gloves Travel
Methuen, MA

Jacqueline Drapeau
Jacqueline Drapeau  (White Gloves Travel)

Jacqueline Drapeau may be just 20 years old and only worked in the world of travel for a little over a year, but she has already grabbed the attention of her repeat clients, as well as those working alongside her.

Shannon Stone and Sheri Bridges, the owners of White Gloves Travel in Methuen, MA are already singing her praises and for good reason.

“Jacqui has been with White Gloves Travel Company for over a year,” they report. “She hit the floor running and has proven herself a stellar travel agent. Her customer service, social media and marketing skills are top-notch. She has become so well-rounded in the travel industry, with navigating new travel suppliers along with new social media platforms. As a full-time student and manager of a retail store, she still sells travel like a pro. We are truly blown away with her.”

Drapeau primarily plans vacations to Disney destinations, but she has recently expanded her offerings through trainings provided by the agency, which is made up of a team of independent contractors. She primarily deals with families who are traveling with young children as well as college students and recent college graduates who may be traveling with friends or even their parents.

While on her own trips to Disney World, she focuses on recording videos of her hotel room as well as the rest of the resort to share on her social media pages for her clients, both existing and potential. She says this has been one of the smartest decisions she has made thus far to attract more business.

Did we mention she’s also a full-time student and holds another job?

“I am pursuing my bachelors degree in business entrepreneurship at Southern New Hampshire University and three separate certifications in event and wedding planning, floral design and event décor,” she tells us. “I decided to keep my previous job and I am still managing a local ice cream shop and breakfast cafe year round.”

Still, Drapeau’s passion for travel is what drives her. It will be exciting to see what comes next from this upcoming industry professional.

Kari Eisenschenk
Forest Travel
Miami Beach, FL

Kari Eisenschenk
Kari Eisenschenk (Forest Travel)

After spending five years in the travel industry, Kari Eisenschenk made the move into the luxury sector just last year and has already received the award for best customer service at Forest Travel for 2022. A requirement for the award was having the most referrals in the company, which speaks volumes of her talent to turn out repeat clients.

“I am very independent, creative, organized, detail-oriented and amicable,” says Eisenschenk. “I enjoy working with people so it is a dream come true to be able to work with such incredible clients and put all of my skills to use while also having fun and learning more about the world. I was surprised to learn how small the network of agents and vendors in the luxury sector of travel was, which is great for getting to know everyone.”

Eisenschenk’s clients are typically between the ages of 30 to 60, usually couples with younger children and teenagers. Most are business owners, lawyers and CEOs, which she says is prefferrable because their schedules are often very flexible. Right now, she and her team are planning a lot of Caribbean and domestic U.S. trips, however, she adds that every day a new destination is being requested and absolutely no destination is off limits.

Recently, Eisenschenk had to plan a trip to for a VIP client that is an international speaker. It included stops in Portugal, France, the Netherlands, U.K., Poland, Serbia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Colombia, all in less than one month. Eisenschenk arranged all of the hotels, flights, transportation, entry forms other various specifics to create the most seamless experience for a chaotic itinerary. It can be difficult to handle these types of requests as there are often last-minute changes but the client was extremely impressed with my organization,” she says.

So what’s the best piece of advice Eisenschenk can share? She says it’s to make sure luxury advisors stand up for themselves when and if they need to, even if it means losing business. “It is best to work with moral principles in mind, to be honest, kind, and always respectful. That should also be mutual. When I am working with a client and if we are not on the same page then it may not be a good match. And that is fine! Always stay true to yourself and everything will fall into place how it is supposed to.”

Kim Eisenschenk
Luxuria Vacations
Miami, FL

Kim Eisenschenk
Kim Eisenschenk  (Luxuria Vacations)

When Kim Eisenchenk speaks about her passion for crafting luxury travel experiences, it is evident why she has been named the top producer at Luxuria Vacations for the past two years in a row.

“I love to be creative and the relationships I have with my clients are what makes my job worth it,” says Eisenchenk. “The thing that surprises me the most is the huge community within the travel industry how important those relationships are to being a successful travel advisor.”

Eisenschenk has only worked in the industry for eight years, but her talent has attracted the business of clients for a reason. Prior to becoming an advisor, Eisenschenk received her bachelor's degree in Travel and Tourism, later gaining four years of luxury hotel experience as well as working with a boutique luxury cruise line.

 “Now I have my dream job where I get to be creative and cultivate memorable experiences for my clients,” she says. ”I take full advantage of the travel perks and I travel at least five times a year to my top hotel partners around the world!”

Eisenchenk’s clients are typically Americans between 40 and 60 years old traveling to Mexico and the Caribbean, however she’s noticed a significant amount of interest in African Safari itineraries. She recently planned a trip for a family of 11 people for two weeks in South Africa, designing a schedule that allowed her clients to see the wildlife up close, spend a few days in the city of Cape Town to see the penguins and wineries and ending with a visit to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

In her own travels, Eisenschenk recently stayed at the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis.

”This resort is an absolute hidden gem of the Caribbean. You enter the resort with a gorgeous boat ride from St. Kitts,” she says. “This is the place you go when you want to be remote, but with all the bells and whistles of a five star resort. Every room has either a beautiful volcano view or ocean view and the sunsets are unreal.”

Wallis Fairvalley
Red Letter Travel, an affiliate of Brownell Travel
Atlanta, GA

Wallis Fairvalley
Wallis Fairvalley (Luxe Traveler Club)

Wallis Fairvalley was drawn to the travel industry because of her desire to help others create unforgettable memories. “It’s a transformative experience that broadens our horizons, challenges our perspectives, and opens us up to new cultures and ways of thinking.”

Fairvalley said that she would wholeheartedly recommend this dynamic industry to other young people for a host of reasons, including the opportunity to turn a passion into a career, one that offers flexibility, freedom and growth potential, and being able to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Her backstory: Fairvalley started as a travel coordinator at Brownell Travel in 2016 and helped start Red Letter Travel in 2017. Then, in May 2022, she had the opportunity to work with the team at Luxe Traveler Club (in Washington D.C.) for a year. But her travel journey came full circle in June 2023 when she returned to Red Letter Travel as co-owner with goals to continue growing the agency.

When Fairvalley travels to such places as Lisbon, and South Africa, she conveys her experiences in a marketing-savvy way. “I always share my travels on all social media outlets to educate my clients on where I am traveling and what there is to do in these locations. For my most recent South Africa trip, I plan to write up a full blog on my experience and share this directly to clients. I have also emailed many of my clients that I know have interest in traveling to the area,” she said.

As many of her clients are honeymooners, she has paired up with a few wedding planners in her area to reach more potential clients, which has led to a nice increase in sales.

Even when she plans complex trips with challenging logistics, such as a recent four week trip to The Galapagos that included stops in four other countries, she tries to maintain a healthy work-life balance. “Rushing into a career or trying to achieve success too quickly can lead to burnout and a lack of balance in your life. Take your time and be intentional about your career choices; this can help you build a career that aligns with your values and allow you to live a fulfilling life outside of work,” she said.

Tim Fomin
Club Cruise & Travel
Lincoln, California

Tim Fomin of Club Cruise & Travel
Tim Fomin  (Club Cruise & Travel)

When his client’s ship was hit by a rogue wave in Argentina on its way to Antarctica, Tim Fomin, VP of sales at Club Cruise Travel & Entertainment sprang into action, rearranging plans, adjusting flight schedules and booking new accommodations. “I was directly involved in managing the aftermath of this rare occurrence, which added an extra layer of complexity to an already intricate trip,” said Fomin. In the end, his client returned home with unforgettable memories, all while feeling safe and supported every step of the way.

Fortunately, his client’s experience is not a common occurrence, but it showed Fomin the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. His passion for creating unforgettable travel experiences has earned him numerous awards and accolades, including being recognized as the Top Cruise Sales Agent for five consecutive years. Several cruise lines have granted him prestigious awards as well. “Currently, I am working on a new travel channel project as the host of a show called ‘The Travel Agency Show,’ which is a dream come true for me,” he said.

Fomin believes that being a travel advisor is an ideal and rewarding choice for many young people. “In fact, with the rise of social media and online booking tools, there has never been a better time to leverage your tech-savvy skills and help others navigate the travel landscape. Plus, with the pandemic causing so much uncertainty, the role of a travel advisor has never been more important,” he said. He added that social media often leads to referrals, which in turn leads to extra business.

It is important for Fomin to make recommendations to clients based on firsthand knowledge, so he travels when he can, and that includes a recent Greek islands excursion. His clients, most of whom are of retirement age, are seeking travel to Tahiti, the Caribbean Islands, the Bahamas, and the Mediterranean, and he is committed to helping them plan trips of a lifetime.

Amanda Huber, CEO of Club Cruise & Travel, said that Fomin shows exceptional promise. “His passion for travel is contagious, and he has an innate ability to connect with clients and create bespoke travel experiences that exceed their expectations. What sets Tim apart is his commitment to excellence and his ability to handle complex travel itineraries with ease. I have no doubt that Tim Fomin will continue to excel and exceed in the travel industry,” Huber said.

Natalie Gillaim
Navigate with Nat
Lexington, KY

Natalie Gillaim
Natalie Gillaim  (Navigate with Nat)

Natalie Gillaim grew up watching the Travel Channel regularly and in college, she participated in the Disney College Program, spending a semester learning the ins and outs of hospitality. A college internship led her to spending six years as a group travel planner, but the company ceased operations in the summer of 2020.

Not to be deterred, Gillaim, opened her own boutique agency in Lexington, Kentucky called Navigate with Nat in 2021. “Over the course of the last year and a half, I have successfully built and scaled my businesses into a huge success. In my first year in business, I served over 250 travelers, sold over $500,000 in travel, and this past fall I hired and trained my first subagent,” she said, adding that she is looking at hiring more advisors before year’s end.

Through word of mouth from happy clients, Gillaim has already sold above and beyond her sales for all of 2022 by the second month of 2023 and is on track to at least double last year’s sales.

“I believe travel advisors are having a renaissance, especially among the younger generations. My millennial clients want to work with millennial travel advisors who understand their unique needs. My business primarily caters to luxury travelers around my age,” she said.

So that she could continue to plan personalized experiences for her clients, Gillaim traveled to five continents last year. She recently returned from a four-week trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam; she makes sure to post her travel stories on social media, which allows her clients an easy way to interact with her. “I’ve already had a ton of interest from clients wanting to take my exact trip. It’s so rewarding to know that it was time and money well spent,” she said.

Gillaim’s clients are looking for adventures and off-the-beaten path experiences, such as challenging hikes in the French Alps or private boat days on the Amalfi Coast. “At hotels, they’re looking for comfort and amenities but also chic, eye-catching interiors and views. They want a mix of Michelin starred dining options and holes in the wall,” she said.

Planning complex trips is in her wheelhouse, such as a month of island hopping in Hawaii or a month of exploring Southeast Asia. Perhaps the most unique—and rewarding—challenge was to plan a destination wedding at the Vatican, which included group tours for 60 guests, excursions like an immersive cooking class, offshoot trips by certain guests, and the couple’s honeymoon. The highlight of the trip culminated in the newlywed couple meeting the Pope.

Megan Huntoon
Travel Beyond
Wayzata, MN

Megan Huntoon
Megan Huntoon  (Travel Beyond)

A key piece of advice that Megan Huntoon keeps in mind as she plans exotic trips for her clients is that problem solving is just as important as planning. That philosophy has allowed her to emerge from the pandemic with a strong resolve. “There are many things we cannot control, but what really matters is our resiliency and how we react to those situations,” said Huntoon, a travel consultant with Travel Beyond in Wayzata, MN.

Her passion for world travel dates back to childhood and fostered in her the idea that the best way to learn is through new experiences, especially those that put her outside of her comfort zone. “Travel truly fascinates me; it gives us the opportunity to connect, even though the world is so vast and diverse, and to experience that which we never thought possible. I want nothing more than to create those moments for my clients,” she said.

Huntoon specializes in Southern and East Africa travel, planning wildlife excursions and safaris. She and her family recently came back from a three-week trip to Kenya and South Africa, viewing wildlife conservancies and enjoying kayaking with penguins; these authentic African experiences help her plan unique and personalized trips for her clients. “The great thing about Africa is that it’s a year-round destination, and even traveling to the same locations at different times of the year can provide completely new experiences,” she said.

As a consequence of COVID, people are looking for more exclusivity, so Huntoon gives them options that elevate a trip to a more private experience, something that can also bring in more money. Another money-making approach is offering two accommodation choices, one within budget and one that is an upgrade to a more luxurious option,

Despite the competitive nature of the industry, Huntoon said that people are very kind and friendly and everyone shares a common goal. “I realized very quickly that I didn’t know what genuine hospitality was until I started working in this industry.”

Travel Beyond Owner Craig Beal has said that he is not surprised by Huntoon’s immediate success as a consultant. “Megan uses her ever-growing expertise, gained from already having spent 63 days on the ground in Africa, to design the perfect trip for each of her clients. She is diligent, detail-oriented, and never loses sight of the clients’ interests and hopes. Megan is truly unflappable; there is no situation nor circumstance that arises which she cannot seamlessly handle,” he said.

Nicole Janoff
Magma Global
New York City, NY

Nicole Janoff
Nicole Janoff  (Magma Global)

Moving from a career as a teacher to a travel advisor was a seamless transition for Nicole Janoff, a leisure travel manager with Magma Global in New York City, as she regularly uses her organizational and research skills, along with patience and objectivity, to plan once-in-a-lifetime trips for her clients.

In just one short year in the industry, she has already received over 40 referrals from clients, praising her knowledge, patience and attention to detail.

“Being a travel advisor is an unbelievable experience. I get to watch my creative ideas and mapped out itineraries come to fruition, and thanks to social media, I can witness a great deal of it firsthand,” she said.

One of the most intricate trips she planned was a seven-week excursion to Australia—despite not coming aboard until 19 days before departure and despite a 19-hour time difference, she met the challenge head on. “We hopped on three Zoom calls to review updated itineraries and moved excursions, transfers, hotels and flights around until it was perfect. The final itinerary was sent over to the clients the day they were getting on the plane. Looking back, I learned so much about Australia and how to route the perfect trip Down Under!” she said.

Janoff also travels extensively, including recent trips to Greece, Paris, Barcelona, Tulum and Cancun, with trips planned for Dubai, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and London. She makes sure to photograph her hotels and recently initiated the Magma Global TikTok to promote the agency’s most requested destinations.

In fact, Janoff capitalizes on social media as much as possible, encouraging clients to tag her agency in the hope of securing referrals…and it has paid off. She recently planned a honeymoon for an Instagram Influencer with 900,000 followers. “After she tagged Magma Global, we received over 150 followers on the Instagram account in the span of two hours. I encourage all clients to tag us because often it also leads to spiked interest in replicating their trips for others. It is a marketing strategy that costs nothing and has proven to be extremely successful,” she said.

Mark Rothman, CEO of Magma Global, recognized that Janoff’s vast knowledge of destinations and resourcefulness resonates with clients. “No matter how small the task is, from finding a guide last minute for a European vacation or booking a villa for festive, Nicole gives every request a high-level attention to detail. Having had no prior experience in the industry and to watch her grow so quickly has been a pleasure, and she has become a tremendous asset to the Magma Global team,” he said.

Madeline Steuber Johnson
Steuber Travel Group (affiliate of Jetset World Travel)
Doylestown, PA

Madeline Steuber Johnson
Madeline Steuber Johnson  (Steuber Travel Group)

As a case team manager in the legal industry, Madeline Steuber Johnson loved team settings and organizing logistics. She always wanted to start her own business, however, and three years ago, she did just that, starting her own travel agency with her mother.

What has surprised Johnson the most about the travel industry is the strong bonds she establishes with clients, many of whom have turned into real friends. “The trust they have in us, with the most personal aspects of their lives has both surprised me and enriched my day to day,” she said.

Johnson’s clientele ranges from young working couples to young families to empty nester; she also plans multigenerational travel. Most clients are focused on Europe with some heading to Southeast Asia and South Africa. Having visited Zimbabwe and South Africa last fall, Johnson is encouraging honeymooners to consider Africa instead. “With so much beauty, nature and culture, as well as the same price point, it’s making for a fantastic pivot from overcrowded destinations in Europe,” she said.

That being said, she recently planned an intricate custom trip in Scotland for clients who were devotees of the show "Outlander". “They wanted to have the best shot at seeing a glimpse of the cast at least once, but we tried to do them one better: we lined up the entire itinerary, day by day, hour by hour, by positioning their activities, hotels, and dining as close to the cast as we could get. It required calendaring release dates for tickets, doing a deep dive on the cast’s favorite restaurants, and studying the cast’s previous filming locations from the past few years,” she said.

This is all part of the custom service that her boutique agency provides, from booking activities, arranging drivers, providing dining guides and booking concierge services. “We arrange a greeting note and a welcome treat at each and every property they travel to,” she said.

Laura Kelly
Royal Cruise Adventures and Tours
Littleton, CO

image of Laura Kelly

Laura Kelly began her career in travel at just 19 years old and after just four years she has been a standout advisor among both her clients and colleagues alike.

How did she get her start? “While working as a barista, I went to trade school for tourism and was interested in finding a career in the travel industry,” she tells us. “Unsure of where to start, I connected with a friend who is a travel advisor to get an idea of what was out there in the industry. After some time, they contacted me about an opening with the agency. I interviewed, got the job a few days later, and have been with Royal Cruise Adventures since.”

After taking a leap head-first into her current position, Kelly is now responsible for handling back office needs and assisting the agency’s independent contractors, while continuing to service current and potential clients. She mainly handles itineraries for multi-gen or retired couples. She also sells travel to honeymooners however the majority of her clientele are traveling with their children and grandchildren.

Kelly also shared that her most recent itineraries she designed were to Mexico, Fiji, and the Caribbean. She has found that selling Mexico has been a destination she’s felt confident in selling since the start of her career and notes she has appreciated visiting and learning more about the country and what it has to offer. Additionally, Fiji is now a favorite destination of hers having had a chance to visit recently. "I had no idea where to start when it came to planning my trip to Fiji and now after visiting, I've learned good ways to island-hop." She mentions her must-visit places include the Malamala Beach club, which she says has the most beautiful fish she's seen while snorkeling along the edge of the island.

Kelly's passion and creativity add a fresh perspective to the agency's itineraries, and both her clients and colleagues have taken notice. Kelly Turnwall, owner of Royal Cruise Adventures, says Kelly has done outstanding work in both agency administration as well as learning sales techniques. “She is very intelligent and has also been able to travel extensively throughout the world, gaining invaluable knowledge as a travel advisor. This experience is unique for a person of her age. Laura is truly a rising star in my agency and in the travel profession. She will most certainly attain the status of a top travel advisor in this industry at a very young age.”

Abby Kragh
Friend Like Me Travel Company
Bel Air, MD

Abby Kragh
Abby Kragh  (Friend Like Me Travel Company)

Working in the travel industry was never on the radar for Abby Kragh growing up, but it is clear she has thrived in the profession she ultimately chose. In fact, after having a negative experience while working at a mid-size agency in the past, she took it upon herself to carve her own path and in 2019 founded Friend Like Me Travel Company out of Bel Air, Maryland.

What started out as a small independent agency is now a large thriving venture.

Kragh says clients are really looking for guidance from her, which she is well equipped to provide. “They can tell that I know my stuff and acknowledge that they need help with all of the little details. It takes so much knowledge and research to plan a vacation these days and people don't have the time, energy, or resources to do it themselves.”

Kragh’s clients are mostly deluxe and luxury travelers who are focused on a great location with a pool and extra perks for staying at a top-tier resort. “They want the immersive themselves in great dining options at their resort too,” she tells Luxury Travel Advisor. She reports working often with Adventures by Disney and has noticed a major shift from interest in the parks to cruises instead. She recently designed an itinerary for some clients to Portugal with the company and claims that it’s the best way to do international travel.

So what’s the smartest thing Kragh says she’s done this year to increase sales? Hired an assistant. As her business is growing she no longer spends her entire day on hold with vendors, which frees up time to post more social media content and connect with new clients. “It's relatively inexpensive and saves me an unbelievable amount of time and sanity and allows me to sell a much higher volume.” Her strategy proves to be working.

“Being an entrepreneur requires hard work and dedication. Being a successful entrepreneur takes heart, passion, and sacrifice.” say Hunter Keeling and Caitlyn Aborn, general manager and social media manager at the company. “It is easy to say that Abby encompasses all of these qualities and it shows through her agency and agents. Abby has solidified herself as a young leader in this industry. Friend Like Me Travel is growing day by day, and it is just getting started.”

Gabrielle Lieberman
Prestige Travel (a member of Signature Network)
Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Gabrielle Lieberman
Gabrielle Lieberman (Prestige Travel)

What Gabrielle Lieberman loves about her job as a luxury travel consultant is working with enthusiastic, happy people who are excited to work with her to plan memorable trips. Lieberman, who began working in the field directly out of college, said she lives, eats, and breathes travel, and she appreciates how the career broadens her own horizons. “The most surprising thing about the industry is the way we are expected to know the entire world. Even if we have not been there, we need to understand the geography, notable landmarks, and the logistics. It is a lot to undertake, but it is interesting to learn,” she said.

In her short four years in the industry, she has already received recognition for top gross sales in 2019 and top insurance sales in her region. She said she would recommend this career to other young people, particularly for the great work-life balance she experiences.

Many of her clients fall within the middle-age demographic, and they are asking for private tours, a likely remnant of COVID. Of late, she has been planning Caribbean vacations as well as romantic destinations to Europe, such as Italy. When challenges inevitably come up, Lieberman rises to the occasion, such as a recent trip she planned to Scandinavia for two couples with disabilities. “They had many dietary restrictions as well and could not participate in some tours, so working around that was a challenge. It was the biggest grossing trip I have ever booked,” she said.

Another challenging trip was having to squeeze five additional people into a three-person trip to Italy that had already been finalized, while adding on additional destinations, including to another country.

Recently Lieberman implemented a service fee to help weed out those clients who are not serious about booking a trip. She said that one of the best pieces of advice she has received is that making a booking is not about the sale itself but about creating a long-lasting relationship that will lead to both repeat customers and referrals.

Ryan Loeb
Magma Global
New York, New York

Ryan Loeb
Ryan Loeb (Magma Global)

As the vice president of corporate travel and hospitality at Magma Global in New York City, Ryan Loeb often has the unique opportunity to travel alongside many of her clients. Past ventures have included trips to the Super Bowl as well as London, Paris and soon to be Australia. But what really makes Loeb so respected is her nonstop determination and drive to seek only the best experiences for her VIP clients, no exceptions.

“I think one of the best pieces of advice I have gotten is to not let cancelations disappoint you,” she tells us. “Our job can be extremely time consuming and a lot of work can go into a trip or group that ends in a cancelation. My boss Mark Rothman always reminds me that while cancelations are daunting, it is all the more reason to do the job twice as good the next time.” She has wisely used this advice almost every time she encounters a major cancelation and the majority of the time the client returns.

This type of ingenuity proved itself recently while Loeb was planning an extensive trip for clients to Italy that had been in the works for months. After having to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances the clients were facing a significant cancelation fee, however they wanted to be able to reschedule. Instead of taking the hit, Loeb was able to work out a solution with the tour operator that would allow her clients to rebook before a specific deadline and use the cancelation fee as a deposit. It is this attention to detail and ability to be flexible that keeps Loeb’s clients coming back again and again.

“It has been an absolute pleasure watching Ryan grow over the past five years,” says Mark Rothman, CEO of Magma Global. “As time has one on, she has taken on more responsibilities and complex trips and programs. During the pandemic and then resurgence, she was able to navigate cancelations and help rebook several trips. Her attention to detail and problem-solving skills have been invaluable to her clients. Her dedication to each and every trip has allowed her to thrive and make her an extremely valuable team member and advisor.”

Loeb specializes in designing itineraries focused on corporate travel. She notes most recently that many companies are trying to bring back corporate on-sites and large group events. Many of her corporate clients migrate towards major world sports events, concerts, and fashion weeks. Her most popular destination include Mexico, Miami and the Bahamas.

Ian McClure
Small World Travel
Austin, Texas

Ian McClure
Ian McClure  (Small World Travel)

Ian McClure went to school for the creative arts and as a travel advisor, he has been able to combine his love of storytelling with his passion for travel. In fact, McClure had visited every continent by the time he was 12 with his family. Now, as an advisor with Small World Travel, an affiliate of Avenue Two Travel based in Austin, TX, he helps clients plan family adventure travel with a focus on educational and enriching experiences.

“Small World Travel specializes in ‘Around the World’ sabbatical trips, and we currently have clients that are on an 18-month-long adventure. These trips are a unique challenge, and we push ourselves to make the experience impactful for our clients as well as the places that they visit along the way,” said McClure.

McClure said that while his clients enjoy high-end properties, they are more focused on immersive and authentic experiences.

Always willing to learn and grow in his career, as well as to provide exceptional adventures for his clients, McClure was selected to participate in a 10-week intensive sustainability training course in Southern Africa sponsored by Sustainable Wanderlust. “Our partners there have always been committed to sustainability goals, and we often incorporate projects for our clients like installing biogas plants in rural villages or making contributions to local schools. On this trip, I was able to experience some of the projects firsthand and gained invaluable insight into how we can expand our efforts,” he said.

McClure said that the best advice he has received is that the travel business is one built on strong relationships, including loyalty and commitment to clients and supplier partners. He would not hesitate to recommend this career path to other young people. “As young advisors, we are able to help shape the future of luxury travel to make it more accessible and sustainable, and to make a positive impact on the environment and communities that our clients visit,” he said.

Jamo Ladd, VP of sales at Avenue Two Travel noted that McClure, who now works alongside his mother and sister, brings a depth of personal experience to his role. “Small World Travel is focused on educational, family, and adventure travel, so Ian’s status as a global citizen was deliberate. He is the embodiment of the values of the agency and brings the depth of his personal travel experiences, a passion for sustainability, and a creative mind that applies fresh and forward-thinking ideas to itinerary design, mostly based around his own experiences,” says Ladd.

Sabrina Nelson
AAA Oregon/Idaho
Eugene, OR

Sabrina Nelson
Sabrina Nelson (AAA Oregon)

For Sabrina Nelson, the secret to being a successful travel advisor is the ability to connect with people. She has learned that if she makes every interaction with a service mindset first, then sales will follow. Nelson is also learning to stretch outside her comfort zone a bit in order to reach more potential customers. “I’ve faced my social anxiety and started professionally networking in ‘unprofessional’ or personal settings: at concerts and festivals, at neighborhood barbeques, in line at the coffee shop—and putting my business cards on neighborhood bulletin boards,” she said.

Travel has always been in the Oregon-based travel advisor’s blood. Having worked for Royal Caribbean, Delta Vacations and Skywest Airlines, Nelson is now employed with AAA in Eugene. She keeps active within the organization, having the title of the vice president of membership for her agency’s Toastmasters group and is the leader of its Fun Committee.

Though her demographic ranges from multi-generational families to retirees who take several international trips a year, she said she is continually surprised by the diversity of people interested in traveling. “Everyone wants to see the world, and I love helping them do it!” said Nelson.

Several of her clients are interested in Northern European cruises and guided land tours of Italy, though she does not shy away from planning complex trips for clients. “My client flew into London, then took a train to Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Genoa, Venice, then Rome before flying to Athens, spending several days in each city with activities,” she said.

Clients have consistently praised Nelson for her well-informed advice. Some well-received recommendations are booking shore excursions for cruise clients and luggage handling being included in a guided tour. She is invested in her clients’ journeys and follows up with her clients through every step in the trip planning process.

Nelson said she would recommend a travel advisor career to other young people, as it is filled with unlimited potential and is a great way to learn about the world and connect with like-minded individuals. And of course, the opportunity to travel is a big bonus, as well as being able to give firsthand recommendations to clients, such as her recent FAM train journey with the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer. “You get to get up close and personal with the Canadian Rockies and be treated like a celebrity. The food is amazing on the trip, and of course, the scenery is breathtaking,” she said.

Arleigh Ogilvie
Major Traveler
Atlanta, GA

Arleigh Ogilvie
Arleigh Ogilvie (Major Traveler)

For Arleigh Ogilvie, 2022 proved to be a record year. Although it was only her second year as an advisor, she booked over $1 million in sales in just the last few weeks of the year. On top of that, she was named the top producer of 2022 as an independent advisor with Major Traveler.

With her record of success, we asked her what advice she might offer other up-and-coming advisors in the industry. Her takeaway? “The smartest thing I have done for my business this year is to work smarter, not harder, by reaching out to local influencers to book their travel,” she says. “In turn, my business sales have increased 10 times from 2021 to 2022 by creating memorable trips and experiences that they feel comfortable sharing with their audience. Almost all of my referrals can in some way be traced back to this, which has saved me a massive amount of time and money in outreach and marketing on my own end.”

Ogilvie’s clients are typically Millennials between the ages of 27 and 35, although she does occasionally design itineraries for multi-generational travel. She lists the most popular destinations in order of popularity as Hawaii, Italy, Greece, France, and Australia. Oglivie is particularly detailed when it comes to multi-country or even multi-continent trips, but says her biggest challenge most recently has been travel to Italy for 2023.

”The prices, availability and demand have been such an incredible and unexpected challenge for what is typically a straight-forward trip. I recently had clients wanting to do the entire country throughout September, from the Amalfi Coast up to Venice, over three weeks, but so much is already sold-out. I had to spend much more time researching and thinking out of the box, as well as piecing together myself rather than relying on just a destination management company, which are too overwhelmed.”

Ogilvie’s attention to the intricacies of detailed itineraries like this, as well as her ability to incorporate tools like social media influence has not gone unnoticed. Emma Major Schroeder, founder and luxury travel advisor at Major Traveler had this to say of Ogilvie’s work: “Not only does Arleigh possess the practical knowledge base in the industry, but she has a keen understanding of what each of her clients desire in a trip and effortlessly makes it come to life. It is rare to find such an incredible advisor with both the knowledge and empathy that Arleigh brings to her work!”

Nicole Patterson
Jetset World Travel
Grand Rapids, MI

Nicole Patterson
Nicole Patterson  (Jetset World Travel)

When Nicole Patterson moved to Los Angeles, she had her sights set on being an event planner. However, after accomplishing her goal and working on red carpet events, Emmy after parties and major marketing collaborations she was ready for something new.

After a short stint working at All Star Travel Group, where she started as an assistant to the owner, David Odaka, learning the GDS system, she fell in love with luxury hotels and worked her way into an advisor role. She is now an in-house advisor with Jetset World Travel, taking on new Google leads as well as maintaining relationships with current Jetset clients and maintaining a book of a little over $2.5 million.

“I handle anything from a simple air request to full FIT programs, and event manage some large group incentive trips,” Patterson tells us. “I thrive in looking at details and perfectly planning out timelines. I feel like being a travel advisor combined my pre-existing skills and matched it with my pre-existing hunger to explore the world and learn about new cultures.”

Patterson’s clients range from the young and very inexperienced to the older couple who have been almost everywhere. Currently she has seen an uptick in desire to travel to Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, and the Caribbean. “While I try to stick with luxury travel as a whole, I have everything from young honeymooners, to people celebrating 25 years of marriage. I also have families who do multiple trips every year as well as once a year multi-generational family trips,” she says.

According to Patterson, the smartest thing she’s done this year to increase revenue is to focus on her planning fees. After years of training and receiving positive feedback from both colleagues and clients, she has come to better value her time. She is also focused on growing her vendor partnerships and learning which one has better commission splits versus when to book directly with Jetset’s affinity programs.

Patterson’s attention to detail and knack for planning every itinerary down to the tee still has her colleagues offering up positive words. Lindsey Epperly, owner of Jetset World Travel had this to say: “I've had the joy of working with Nicole and learning from her incredible amount of expertise, plus her can-do attitude has been pivotal to the team's success. She genuinely cares about each of her clients, as evidenced by her growing book of business, which is over $3 million in sales. Beyond the career she's built, she is a kind, fun-loving individual and our team looks to her as a leader.”

Barrett Phillips
Strong Travel
Fort Worth, Texas

Barrett Phillips
Barrett Phillips  (Strong Travel)

Barrett Phillips may be just 24 years old with two years of experience in the industry under her belt, but she has already taken on the ambitious task of working both as an independent contractor at Strong Travel and running her own business, Barrett Phillips Travel Designs LLC.

“I have been named as the rising star of Strong Travel due to my incredible progress and outstanding ability to attain and retain clients all over the world,” says Phillips. “I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend International Luxury Travel Market Trade Show in Cannes this past December. When I arrived, I was by far the youngest person at the event and the knowledge that I have is extremely impressive.”

Interestingly, even with all her success, Phillips does not recommend this job for everyone. She believes it takes a person with a certain “go-getter” personality to succeed in selling travel. She adds that an advisor will not make any money unless they put in the necessary time and effort in researching and learning about the destinations they are selling inside and out. Her clients are typically couples between the ages of 45 and 60. She also works with young families and honeymooners, however the majority of the demographic is still empty-nester type clients traveling to and throughout Europe.

So what has Phillips done to make money and give herself an edge in the market this year? She’s made the decision not to charge her new high-end luxury clients a booking fee. “This has led to a massive increase in sales,” she claims. “I have been doing really high-end trips for people who then have a wonderful experience with me, then they tell all of their friends. My business has skyrocketed due to word-of-mouth referrals.”

Phillips says the best piece of advice she’s received when it comes to her a career has come from her parents. “They taught me how important it is to have a positive attitude, honesty and humility in everything that you do. I am the first to admit when I have done something wrong and I am eager to be better everyday. I think that positivity is contagious.”

Katie Lynn Reynolds
Sylvania, Ohio

Katie Lynn Reynolds
Katie Lynn Reynolds  (Travelmation)

Since officially beginning her career in travel in February 2021, Katie Lynn Reynolds of Travelmation has gone from bringing in $500k in sales to nearly $2 million booked for 2023. Not only has she seen success in terms of revenue, but Reynolds has also made a name for herself based on recognition and accolades within the industry.

“I am currently signed on NDAʼs with two resort brands on their advisory boards. I am a Sandals Weddingsmoon Specialist. I attended Future Leaders in 2022. I assist with training in my agency in the realm of all-inclusive and weddings, as that is the bulk of my business,” she says. ”I have been hosted with major brands such as Virgin Voyages, Sandals/Beaches, Norwegian, RCL, and AIC group for my great sales and marketing capability. For 2023, I will be representing my agency at VEʼs annual Presidentʼs retreat and have been selected to attend Romance Travel Forum.” She has also submitted applications for GTM and WAVE/Trendsetters recognition.

With the amount of success Reynolds has been able to achieve, she says she strives to help other agents in her agency learn techniques of sales conversations, marketing ideas and ways to sell genuiinely. “I think being a travel agent now more than ever is perfect for the new generation,” she says. “We are not your grandma's travel agents, we think with innovation and more than just a bottom line in mind.”

Reynolds says the smartest thing she has done so far this year to make money was hiring a VA and Canva assistant. “Both have incredible great output and have been the best money spent in ROI on my time and theirs.” In addition, she has implemented planning fees. Her clients consist of mainly Millennials and honeymooners looking for travel to the Caribbean, as well as all inclusive travel and cruises.

In her own travels, Reynolds says her most recent adventure was with Virgin Voyages, where she shared an itinerary with many like-minded Millennial and GenZ clients. “There were more age appropriate entertainment (versus a bingo hall), all meals were included, and iconic cruise stops such as their beach club. I encourage my clients that this is a cruise line where you can literally be yourself and someone will be there to cheer you on.”

Chandler Rodgers
Four Hundred
Dallas, Texas

Chandler Rodgers
Chandler Rodgers  (Four Hundred)

Chandler Rodgers considers being promoted to director of travel at Four Hundred after only five years with the company, as the biggest accomplishment of her career.

“Moving up so quickly has shown how strong I am in my knowledge of the travel industry and how my ability to lead has increased day after day,” she says.

Rodgers manages a team of seven on top of planning travel itineraries for her own clients. Her team assists in the planning of trips for about 150 agency “members,” designing everything from quick escapes to two-week long safaris. Rodgers is in charge of ensuring that all hotels and destinations that the team suggests are up to par for their members. Along with managing the team and planning itineraries, she also assists in administrative duties such as restructuring the department and managing the dynamic relationships that Four Hundred has with hotel brands and partners around the world.

So what’s Rodgers’ secret to success? She says her job includes much more than meets the eye. “The larger part is the nitty gritty. It's grinding at 6 a.m. in the summer so that you can ensure your emails to Europe get out in time for a response. It's staying up late during a snowstorm to ensure everyone gets to their destination without a cancellation.”

It’s this innate attention to detail that ensures Rodgers’ success, and earned her the recognition she’s received from Tony Shepherd, CEO at Four Hundred.

“Chandler entered the travel industry with a passion to serve and a desire to learn, and she has succeeded remarkably,” says Shepherd. “Her unwavering commitment to her clients, her colleagues, and our industry has been extraordinary, and her professional growth and development have been a joy to watch. She has an innate ability to connect people to products and services, and is trusted implicitly by her demanding clients, who depend on her to work quickly and creatively on their trips. She is a remarkable manager, and clearly understands how to get the best out of her team of advisors, who love her.”

So what’s next on the list for Rodgers? She says she’s noticed an increase of interest in ski trips to Europe, and calls Courchevel the “Aspen of France.” “It is glitzy with all of the designer stores and the vibe translates throughout the town. Val d'Isere is more low key and authentic.”

Gia Schiffino
Lux Voyage
Newtown Square, PA

Gia Schiffino
Gia Schiffino  (Lux Voyage)

Although she comes from a family of hoteliers, Gia Schiffino originally did not consider travel as an occupation. But when she was pursuing her Master’s degree in Barcelona, she got a part-time job as a travel advisor—and a new career direction was born. “It seemed like a great fit for me given how much I was traveling and visiting new destinations; as soon as I started working as a travel advisor, I knew I had found my calling,” she said.

Schiffino is currently a senior travel advisor and was recently promoted to junior partner with Lux Voyage, part of the Frosch Affiliates/Signature Travel Network Consortia. “In this new role, I am taking on additional responsibilities and contributing to the strategic direction of the company,” said Schiffino.

In addition to planning memorable and highly personalized itineraries for her clients to places like Southeast Asia, Australia and South Africa, Schiffino enjoys representing her company in travel shows. “I travel constantly to scout new destinations and build strong relationships with our local suppliers worldwide. I also work closely with Senior Partners in bringing in new clients, review the team’s responsibilities, take the lead in new employment training and maintain client relationships to further personalize their travel experiences,” she said.

Schiffino has been surprised to see the scale and sophistication of the luxury travel industry as well as the sheer range of experiences and services available. “There are no limits on how much you can elevate and personalize an experience,” she said, adding that it was both humbling and exciting to work with people who share common goals who appreciate the beauty of travel.

Perhaps the most valuable advice she’s received is to follow her instincts and remain authentic. “Authenticity is what makes you unique and it is seen as a way to connect with others to build trust, respect and create meaningful relationships.”

One of the most challenging—and yet rewarding—vacations she planned was for a family who wanted to travel with their older relatives based in Beirut, but the elderly father had medical limitations pertaining to how long he could travel, along with having mobility issues. “This trip really put our services to the test in truly making everything possible for this client. After one challenging event after another, I was able to pull a successful and beautiful trip these clients will always cherish,” she said.  

Her agency owner, Virgil Schiffino, wholeheartedly endorses her. “Gia has a remarkable ability to listen carefully to clients’ needs and preferences, and then craft truly bespoke experiences that surprise and delight. She is a worldly, curious learner who constantly seeks out new destinations and experiences,” Schiffino says.

Roberto Simon
Miami, FL

Roberto Simon
Roberto Simon (Travel Edge)

Roberto Simon has so many repeat clients that he is unable to take on new clients at the moment. Not a bad problem for a young luxury leisure specialist to have.

Simon is an Independent Contractor whose clients are used to being preferred partners and VIPs. “My clients are always asking for unique private experiences that are uncommon, things that will make them go WOW. Food is also always expected to be booked at the best and trendiest restaurants in each location depending on what the client is feeling at the moment. They know they can just grab their phone and call or text me, and I will be there to sort it out,” he said.

Travel plans rarely go off without a hitch, but Simon always figures it out. ‘I once had a 60-plus day honeymoon for a billionaire’s son. They went around the globe, going to places from Soneva Jani in the Maldives to Safari in Safi Sands at Ivory Lodge, Amanpuri, Amanpulo, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, just to name a few,” he said, adding that as the clients kept Kosher and Shabbat, those elements had to be factored in to the trip, which took two months to plan.

About 60 percent of his clients are young people under the age of 35, while the rest are older or families, and they are traveling across the globe, from Europe to French Polynesia to Peru to Kenya to New Zealand and many places in between.

Over the past few months, Simon himself has traveled to places like Lisbon, Paris, Geneva, Madrid, Prague and Cannes and makes sure to post his travels on social media for his clients who follow him. As one who spent much of his youth traveling, with his family allowing him to make travel decisions, he enjoys sharing these experiences with other people.

Simon would enthusiastically recommend this line of work to other young adults ‘one thousand percent,’ but only for those who have wanderlust, are organized, and a ‘people’s person.’

The best advice he has received in his career has been to always be nice. “You never know who you are speaking or dealing with, and being respectful and nice will always give you a great image,” he says.

Sydne Stubbs
Those Who Wander Travel  
Fort Stewart, GA

Sydne Stubbs
Sydne Stubbs  (Those Who Wander Travel  )

While working as a dental hygienist, Sydne Stubbs knew it was time for a change. “I wanted a career that I was passionate about,” she says. “I wanted to be able to interact with others, get to know them personally and help them to make their dreams a reality.” So, she made a positive career move—becoming a full-time travel advisor for Those Who Wander Travel (TWWT), Fort Stewart, GA. Travel Quest Network is the host agency.

Four years later, the 29-year-old Stubbs is loving her career and grateful for the people she’s met within the industry. “The most surprising thing in the travel industry is ‘the community,’” she emphasizes. “I never thought when I became a travel advisor that I would find lifelong friends and ‘grow’ from fellow travel advisors. It's really incredible how tight knit the travel community is!”

Speaking for all young travel advisors, “how fun to say that we are able to have grown with our clients,” adds the TWWT worldwide agent. “I started by booking honeymooners. I have been with those clients for their honeymoons, babymoons, family reunions, anniversaries and so much more. It is so fun to watch my clients grow.”

Over the past few years, Stubbs has enhanced her skill set by attending industry conferences and traveling to Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Mexico. “I sell primarily from Instagram and Facebook,” she says. So, she shares photos and insight about her own trips online and finds that “it brings in so many new clients and interest.”

One challenging, intricate trip she’s planned was a 14-day FIT for clients desiring to travel around Australia with every hour of the day planned. Given constant travel industry changes, Stubbs spent an incredible amount of time on all the pre-trip details, plus dealt with changes to assist her clients as the vacation unfolded. “But it was incredible to hear about their vacation when they returned,” she emphasizes.

Most of Stubbs’ clients are in their 20s and 30s. They’re traveling primarily to Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. “A handful want all-inclusive, adults only,” she explains, while “my Europe travelers want jam-packed itineraries with tours and excursions.” As a new revenue stream, she’s recently begun selling destination weddings.

What’s the best advice Stubbs has received in her travel industry career? Putting it simply, she responds: “Make your clients feel like friends.”

Morgan Tredway
Making Memories by Morgan
Manhattan, KS

Morgan Tredway
Morgan Tredway (Making Memories by Morgan)

With a case load of up to 22 children at a time, Morgan Tredway began her work life as a re-integration social worker in the foster care field. She dealt with parents to address concerns and to safely return kids to their homes, if deemed appropriate. “The work was important, challenging, meaningful, and to be completely honest, really heavy,” she explains.

So, when she stumbled across a part-time receptionist/part-time travel advisor position at CARE (Concierge & Romantic Escapes) Travel of Manhattan, KS, “the rest is history,” she explains. “To be honest, I didn't even realize travel advisors were a thing until I saw the travel agency hiring.” Today, the 29-year-old Tredway says joining the travel industry was the right path and “changed my life for the better.”

After two years at CARE Travel, she became an independent contractor and owner of Making Memories by Morgan, Liberty, MO, which specializes in all-inclusive vacations and romance travel for destination weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. “Destination weddings are my passion,” Tredway emphasizes. “My goal is to make this process as stress-free as possible, so my couples are able to be fully present and make memories of a lifetime with family and friends.”

Honeymoon clients are mostly in their 20s, but she also plans milestone anniversary trips. Clients often seek a stress-free, adults-only beach resort experience in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Antigua. When COVID-era travel issues caused one client’s honeymoon to be rescheduled twice for Hawaii and then changed to Mexico, she helped the couple create the best possible experience. Not surprisingly, Tredway garners many five-star Google and Facebook client reviews.

Niki Rakowitz, host and president of CARE Travel, describes Tredway as “an exceptional travel advisor with a passion for elevating her clients' travel experiences. I’m beyond proud of the vision she has for her brand, Making Memories by Morgan, and how she’s staying on brand.  Her sales numbers have increased by four times in year two of her business.”

To attract clients to a particular destination, Tredway uses Instagram stories and reels. For new clients, she hosts a complimentary consultation—listening, learning and explaining services including her planning fee. “The smartest thing I’ve done this year to make more money is increasing my planning fees,” Tredway adds.  

After joining Will Medina's Destination Wedding Playbook in 2021, she’s also been inspired to “Do It Scared,” not overthinking things or expecting immediate perfection. Heading into her third year operating Making Memories with Morgan, Tredway says: “I've achieved some really awesome results from ‘Doing it Scared,’ such as surpassing my goal of two destination weddings for 2023 by getting seven.”

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