Person of the Week
Independent Vacation Specialist
I’m not really selling a commodity. I’m really selling a memory. You will say, “Wow! Remember that time we saw those mountains?” I provide people with the opportunity to create these memories.
1. What led you to the mission of being an independent vacation specialist?
I retired from my job and afterwards, since I’m not the retiring type, I did charitable work and things I couldn’t do with an eighty hour a week corporate job. One of these things was to teach senior citizens how to do computers. I found the opportunity to become an independent vacation specialist with Cruise One Dream Vacations and here is how.
I started to look for something I could do from an ownership standpoint and everything was expensive. The worst for me would have been a brick and mortar place franchise. Then I found something that fit — the cruise business.
I had a friend who liked to travel and had been on many cruises. He did some research and found he could be a travel agent. He did really well. He joined a cruise company and in the first six months he won all their awards. My wife and I had been on many cruises. We were on a cruise with him in the China Sea from Beijing to Singapore and he said to me, “You really ought get into this job too!”
The next thing I knew, I got an email from a cruise company salesman and he wanted to talk to me about the possibility of working for the company. I did talk to him, signed up, went to a class, and came home ready to go. I got into the business because somebody else had done the research, was a friend of mine, and for the most part the business was affordable and easy to join.
I tell people that if you are thirty five or forty and you are thinking of being in the travel business and you have a mortgage, two kids to put through college, and a couple of car payments, you might want to have a day job and do travel at night. In the first year you are in the travel business, you might not be able to have enough salary from that alone.
One of the good things about the cruise business is that you can enter it part time. If you go home from work each night and book cruises, eventually you can flip your jobs and go full time in the cruise business. You can work at one job until the cruise job becomes the only job you’ll need for your income needs.
2. What does this mission mean to you?
It means I own the company. It is my company. I bought it. If you were buying it on the street it would be a ten thousand dollar franchise. For that amount, they set you up with cruise lines and you get the advantage of their buying power, have a lot of cruises to choose from, and a lot of places to visit.
What it means to me is that I have no boss. This gives me freedom of choice for scheduling. I don’t have the burden of a brick and mortar place. I can work from home. It doesn’t take a big investment – I already had a computer and printer. It is something that is fun and I enjoy.
3. What was your best day as an independent vacation specialist?
It’s a good feeling if I am working with someone and they decide to go with me. I have provided something that they cannot get elsewhere – service – which is my background. I know that I can take care of them and they are going to be pleased with what I am doing for them. My greatest day was when I booked a guy for a forty six thousand dollar, seven day cruise. He and a family of eight sail with me every year.
4. What was your worst day as an independent vacation specialist?
My worst day would be losing a sale and knowing that they should have gone with me. I would have taken care of them.
There are other days when I might get overwhelmed because I am trying to do too much. I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof. I might get home late at night, not get to my emails until late at night. I’ll see there is an email from someone in another city and she wants to book a cruise, and I’ll stay up until almost one in the morning until I get everything together. Then I get up at six in the morning to finish it off. I’ll talk to the client a couple of times and then go out to finish other jobs. Keeping up might seem overwhelming at times.
5. How did you survive your worst day?
I like to be in control and I’ve always prided myself on not worrying about something I can’t control. To me, that’s how you cope with stress. Why would you worry about something you can’t control? The frustrating part is when something goes wrong that I could have controlled. I make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Today there are a lot of people floundering, trying to find a job in anything, and not having a clue what they really want. Some kids can focus, but many are saying, “I don’t know? Fireman? Policeman? I don’t know.” There are some tests that ask questions about jobs, like, “Would you rather drive a truck or be a preacher in a church?” From those five hundred questions, the answers would come, “Oh you would be a great truck driver.” Those tests may not always work, but they can create an opportunity for people to see what they really might want to do.
As a student, you might not have a clue or know what jobs are out there. You might not have a clue what the possibilities are or what a job description is going to be. The way to start is to look at the possibilities and decide what would make you happy – even if it might be a lesser paying job. You have to first think, “What would I like to do?”
What I found I love about the travel business is that I’m not really selling a commodity. I’m not selling a car. I’m not selling a home inspection. I’m really selling a memory. This cruise will be a memory. You will say, “Wow! Remember that time we saw those mountains? They were so beautiful!” I provide people with the opportunity to create these memories.