Well, it would really be yesterday, since I didn’t get a chance to update after our regional conference. During our 36 round table meetings with various tour operators, hotels, and on-sites, I realized that this event marked a year of my really being in with the travel industry. I attended last year’s regional meeting after only a little knowledge of the Sandals products. I had been told of Virtuoso, but had no idea the level of expertise that awaited at that first meeting.
I remember going through and meeting the various suppliers, amazed at each new finding. You can do that? I can send people there? People actually travel to Antarctica?! There’s such thing as a luxury safari?! I had lots of italicized thoughts floating around in my little buzzing mind. I also had a bag full of awesome brochures that I knew my roommates would love, so when I came back to Athens that evening, I played “ask and you shall receive” with my friends.
“Where in the world do you want to go?” I said.
“Tahiti,” someone shouted out. I reached in my bag and pulled out an Islands in the Sun pamphlet.
“Give me another one!”
“Africa!” yelled another voice, met with a flying Micato brochure.
“Ireland!” asked another friend. I threw them a Twelve Apostles flyer. “But this is in South Africa?” they replied, disappointed.
Okay, I was still learning. But what a year it has been since then! I’ve learned and grown so much and there is still so much more to do. The world is my product and there will never be enough time or knowledge to span that, but I’m certainly trying to take it all in. Yesterday, one of my roommates informed me that Oprah hailed travel agents as one of the top three “happiest jobs.” I’m in an industry where people are truly excited about what they’re doing as a career.
I was blown away with a living example of this at the meeting yesterday. As I sat down to breakfast, an agent named Barbara tapped me on the shoulder.
“I just wanted to introduce myself,” she said, reaching out a hand. “I saw you at Travel Mart and just thought – bless her heart! She’s taking a huge bite out of this industry and that’s exciting to see!”
There just aren’t words to describe the happiness that I’ve encountered with other Virtuoso agents – Barbara’s welcoming spirit and sweet words spoke volumes about this career. I’ve never experienced anything like it; just like at Travel Mart, newbies aren’t referred to as rookies – we’re proclaimed as the next generation, and that’s a really cool thing to be a part of.
Barbara finished our conversation stating, “Don’t you just love what you do? I know so many people who make a lot more money than me, but they aren’t nearly as happy as I am at my job.”
And that’s the honest truth.