A dirty little secret for you: I love to play around with booking engines. I probably spend two months solid testing out flight combos and the like to get the best combination of price, schedule and number of stopovers—nothing makes me madder than knowing someone else flew cheaper than I did (a rarity). Call it the Type A in me, but that’s my favorite part of the travel process by far. My desktop is littered with Excel spreadsheets of hotel prices and restaurant reviews and other information for any given upcoming trip. (I’ll share one such glimpse at my personal planning docs after my Scotland trip this month to show you just how full of crazy I am.)
So it was kismet when I was out to eat with Steve and Carol Koening back in April at my small town lake marina. Steve, who spent 25 years in the banking industry, has long been a client of my dad and he joined his lovely wife Carol in opening Group Trek Travel in the Nashville area back in 2001. I thought they were only half-serious when they asked me to come on board as a travel consultant. But then, we chatted over coffee in Franklin back in August, and by the end of our meeting, I’d signed the contract. I guess sales is a good career for Carol after all—it took her under two hours to sell me on the job!
I know what you’re thinking: I clearly have so much free time on my hands to take on yet another job, right? (And I still haven’t told you about the two awesome and extremely time-consuming businesses I’ve started in the past three months! I can’t even wait, I’m so giddy but due to contractual stuffs, it will likely be another month or two before I can share either. Hint: Neither of them have anything to do with this gig, or even travel in general.) Well, the thing is that 1) I can do as little or as much travel consulting as I like (as an independent agent, I don’t have a quota to meet) and 2) I’ve already been doing trip-planning for a bevy of friends and family members over the years, so why not be a registered agent who not only has the tools to get the traveler in question much better deals than published rates—plus, need I add, making a little extra money to go to my travel fund while I’m at it? It’s a win-win for both parties.
One misnomer is that travel agents will cost you more—this is absolutely not the case. You are getting airfare and hotels at often a much better rate than you could find on your own, plus the added bonus of having someone do all the booking for you–and you don’t pay a penny extra. Travel agents work on commission that is paid by the airfare consolidator or consortium (services that you only have access to if you are an established and registered agency).
Before I even had my software training, I was booking a 12-day trip for Ella’s favorite San Francisco dog trainer to the South Pacific with her boyfriend. I was so pleased that not only did I get them the resort they wanted, but I managed to find it at more than $1,500 off what they would have gotten booking directly through the property. (No easy task, let me tell you—there are more than 50 different booking engines and services this particular agency uses!) I can’t wait to mail her a packet of information on all my favorite spots on the islands she’s visiting! (Yes, call me crazy, but I fully plan to personalize as much of each client’s trips as I physically can.)
I primarily will be specializing in leisure groups, though if you’re an individual and want to take a trip of seven nights or more, I’m happy to help there, as well. Shoot me an email at kristin (AT) grouptrektravel (DOT) com, and we can chat.
Truth be told: I always wanted to start a honeymoon planning service, as little makes me more giddy than planning someone else’s vacation (uh, other than planning mine!), so this is a perfect jumping-off point for me.
Ready… set… let’s see the world!
I’ll be posting updates to trips the agency is already planning in my footer from time to time. If you’re wanting to take a fall vacation, we have a few spots open (both for couples and for solo traveling females) on an amazing 10-day trip with Nashville’s Barefoot Gang travel group to Italy, visiting Lake Como, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. E-mail me or leave a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll be in touch!