Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeanne Hamilton.
Jeanne, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was an educator for 30 years and decided to retire from education and do something else I was passionate about, and that was travel! My passion for travel began back in college when I went on my first international trip to China and Japan. I loved experiencing other cultures.
Over the past 30 years, our family has traveled to many destinations in the US as well as abroad. We have also enjoyed cruises along the way. Some of the best memories we made as a family were from the trips that we took together.
I also started planning yearly trips with my sisters to reconnect (there are four of us) since we all live in different parts of the country. Since I had already planned lots of trips for my family and sisters I thought it would be great to start helping other people make memories by planning trips for them, so I started researching what it would take to become a travel agent and got started right away.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It started out pretty smooth, but one year later, Covid hit, and of course, travel came to a halt! Even though business slowed down, I decided to use the time to take as much training as I could on several destinations and on how to grow my business. As a travel agent, you are always learning since there are so many destinations to learn about. That is one of the things I love about this business (It’s the teacher in me that loves the learning).
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
I am an independent travel agent and I operate and manage my own travel agency. I have several specialist certifications for many destinations as well as resorts and cruise lines and I book all kinds of travel for my clients. My specialties are the Caribbean islands, all-inclusive resorts, and honeymoons, but I have also planned trips such as Alaska cruises, land tours to various destinations, ski trips, and more.
It brings me lots of joy to hear how much people loved their vacation when they return home and to know that I have helped them create lasting memories. One thing that sets me apart is that I have traveled to most of the destinations I book for my clients and if I haven’t been there, I have a strong knowledge base of where they are going. I spend lots of time traveling to new destinations and checking out brands of resorts so that I do not send anyone to a place I know nothing about.
This past year I have toured over 25 resorts for my clients in the Caribbean and the USA. I have also experienced many bucket list trips that people are interested in such as landing on a glacier in Alaska, flying in a hot air balloon, exploring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, taking a luxury train trip, seeing whales in Alaska, etc.
I also just experienced the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train from Denver to Moab and it was amazing! I have access to hundreds of world-class vendors and have relationships with many of them which allows me to get special perks for my clients that they would not get elsewhere. When a client books with me, they know that I will be there every step of the way, not just before their trip, but while they are traveling as well, just in case they run into any hiccups along the way.
Another advantage to clients booking with me is that I save them time researching online. That can be a daunting process trying to find exactly what you are looking for at the right price. I not only save my clients time, but many times I save them money too.
Since travel is my world, I know what specials exist and what savings they can get. Through a free consultation, I find out what my clients are looking for and then find the vacation package that suits their budget.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
One piece of advice I would give to someone who is just starting out is to realize that if you own your own business, you need to put parameters on your time. I see a lot of young moms in the business and it is very hard for them to learn how to balance their job with their home responsibilities.
It is really important to have set hours you will work, and then turn the phone off so you have time for your family. That is probably the toughest part of owning your own business especially if you work from home.
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