First, thanks for all the comments and emails on my last blog in regards to credit cards saving you money on air travel… glad that I could help!
I don’t know if today’s blog is going to be of help to anyone in particular except for me or maybe, like me, it will have you stop and think about how some opportunities you are faced with seem to be awful when in fact they end up working out all the better for you.
So my title is Old travel professionals never die they just… what? Well they reinvent themselves! I have been hocking travel now for almost 20 years. Did I wake up one day and say “Hey I want to be a travel agent?” Hell no… I was a Paralegal who was working 1 1/2 hours driving time each way from her office and the stress of driving from Hudson, FL to Clearwater, FL on Highway 19 was just way too taxing on me.
So I had a girlfriend offer me a job at her travel agency as Customer Care and Human Relations about 10 miles from my house. I was going to make sure that the customers were happy and so were the agents… but next thing I knew I was sitting in the Delta Training Center in Atlanta GA learning how to run an airline ticket… reinvented.
A little over a year later I realized that I could do my job sitting in an extra bedroom of my home with a computer and a phone and that is how Champagne Vacations was born…. reinvented. (Actually it was Champagne Vacations then Champagne Vacations Inc. then Champagne Vactions and now it is Champagne Vacations LLC. Everything wants to be reinvented!!)
I could go on and on with how over all these years I have gone from specializing in cruises to honeymoons to destination weddings and now european tours and river cruises but that part isn’t the crux of what I wanted to blog about today.
In the last 3 or 4 years I have realized that travel professionals never die we just get recycled… case in point. About 3 years ago I was meeting with my Crystal Cruise Line Rep over coffee… our first official meeting. We were sitting and talking but she looked so familiar I just had to say that I thought we had met before… after asking a couple of questions, like who did you used to work for… I found out that she used to be my Holland America Cruise Line rep when I lived in Florida. She had been reinvented and loves now working for Crystal.
One day I was surfing the web looking for information on a river cruise line I had just heard about, Scenic River Cruises and while on their website trying to figure out who my sales rep would be I see the name of my old Regency Cruise Line rep… he had worked for 4 different cruise lines since I had known him all of which had gone belly up while he worked for them. He had finally opened his own travel rep company and he now takes care of a multitude of smaller travel companies like Scenic River Cruises and Tour and Paul Gaugin just to name a few. I dropped him an email and we caught up… best thing that ever happened to him was that last cruise line going under, it gave him the notion to go out on his own and not rely on others for his success… reinvented from an employee to an employer!
Today I get a phone call from my General Tours Rep. Marilyn is her name, she is coming to Charlotte next week and she would like to meet me since we haven’t had a chance to before. As we are setting up a coffee date she says to me “I think I know you. Did you used to live in Hudson FL?” seems that Marilyn was my rep 18 years ago with a little company called Santos Tours (those of you that have lived in the Tampa area long enough might have remembered them with their charter trips to Las Vegas each week at a super cheap price). Well that just started the whole “do you remember so and so? they work for such and such now”. But Marilyn tells me that the best thing that ever happened to her was when Santos Tours was bought out and then later the new company sold them off and then they all went belly up… she now loves her job with General Tours that she has been at for the last 12 years. Her love for her job was rejuvinated.
In 18 years I have seen airlines go bankrupt, tour companies and cruise lines go under. Storefront travel agencies are a rariety unless they are a AAA or a Carlson or another “name-brand” company with millions of dollars backing them. Gone are the Mom and Pop agencies where travel agents were not just wanting the sale but were your friends. Some people have left the business and pursued other careers. But those people still left, whether they are sales reps from cruise lines or tour companies or travel agents like me that have been working in their spare bedrooms for decades… we all have one thing in common… we love our work so much that rather than roll over and die when the internet agencies came in and took that personal touch away or companies over extended themselves and closed up… those that truly love travel just have reinvented themselves.
I was going to make the title of this blog a variation of that country song “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” like “Save a Travel Agent, Book a Trip” but I thought after starting this blog it was more a testiment to how when life gives you a lemon you really need to peel off the rind and drop it in a nice dry martini (hey… I am over the lemonade at this age… I have been reinvented WAY too many times!!)
Have a great day! and if you would like to Save a Travel Agent you can give me a call at 888 877 8464 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.achampagnevacation.com. Please feel free to leave a comment and you can share your reinventing stories too if you would like!