Business of Travel, Podcast, Travel Business CEO

Travel Biz CEO: Part 2: Bringing on IC’s with Michele Schwartz

Part 2: Bringing on IC’s with Michele Schwartz

Welcome back to Travel Biz CEO. This week is Part 2 of our 3 part series on bringing on IC’s into your travel business.  Last week we were joined by Denise Lorentzen of Dreams Travel Consulting, where we dug into the the path that led Denise to bringing on IC’s. We got into who this is a good business model for, who it isn’t for and what makes people like Denise thrive in this role. 

Same questions, same topic, but very different business model and approach, this week we are joined by Michele Schwartz of Making Memories Travel. Also a KTA member, Michele has a unique style of bringing on IC’s to her team. So enjoy this part 2 episode of bringing on IC’s to your travel business. 

Michele Schwartz is the Founder & OG of Makin’ Memories Travel Co.  Makin’ Memories Travel is a bespoke agency based in Austin which specializes in creating Disney travel experiences for adults.  For her #2020Pivot she started The First Class Blogging Academy to help travel agents (she used the word agent on purpose for that SEO juice) uplevel their websites and showcasing their expertise by creating weekly original content.    

Before founding her travel business, Michele was in the Austin events industry and based on her wedding blog was known as the world’s best authority on Jewish life-cycle events.  She built the blog, “The Modern Jewish Wedding,” to be an international source of inspiration and education for Jewish couples and event planners alike.  She retired from event planning and sold her blog after serving as the President of the Austin Chapter of the National Association of Events & Catering, to pursue her dream of a #wanderlust lifestyle.  

Michele’s love of travel began at a very young age when she hiked across the Continental Divide (well she was carried) at the age of three.  She went on to work at Walt Disney World as a cast member for several years before coming home to Texas.  

She has a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin in Communications and studied for her Master’s at the UT School of Social Work.  She is a second mom to 2 great humans and 1 adorable puppy.  Her current claim to fame: despite the pandemic, a distaste for roller coasters and a fear of heights, she has been on Every. Single. Ride at Walt Disney World.  


For this week’s episode we’ve provided the transcript of the conversation below. Enjoy!


Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Hello, everyone, welcome back to KTA’s Travel Biz CEO podcast. I’m Ashley Metesh McCoy, one of the founders here of KTA. And today I am privileged to be joined by Michelle Schwartz, one of our awesome, generous, brilliant KTA members who is going to be talking to me about the whole, quote unquote queen bee business model- having IC’s in your agency, and I’m not going to take too much time talking here, I want Michelle to impart all of her wisdom on us. But just so you know, her business is Making Memories Travel, and she will be sharing her business information in the show notes. If you want to look her up. I would love for her to tell us her story about her business. So without further ado, take it away. Michelle, tell us about you and your travel agency.

Michele Schwartz
Oh, goodness. Well, thank you so much for having me. I love all three of you. And it’s such a pleasure to get to spend one on one time with you.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, thank you.

Michele Schwartz
Very exciting.

So Well, we’ve heard of the accidental entrepreneur. So I feel like I became the accidental host. Although I hate calling myself a host, because I don’t want to ever be a host agency. Like that’s not my goal. I but I was I offered to, you know, we’re stuck in COVID not traveling. And I am part of a group online – a Disney fan group that I’m a big part of on Facebook. and I am honored to be the person who does every week, we do a feature in that group called Travel Agent Tuesday. And I was selected to be the admin of Travel Agent Tuesday, which was just a huge, huge honor and a really big deal for me. And I so as that people started reaching out to me to kind of like be like, what’s it like to be a Disney travel agent? And what do you do? And you know, how did you get started, and I would just do informational interviews. And the first person who came on my team, she’s now my agency manager, her name is Erin. She’s my right and left hand side, she is amazing. And she reached out to me to do an informational interview and offered to buy me  a Starbucks gift card in return. And I told her, I was like, well, that’s fine.  I’m happy to do an informational interview. But seeing as it’s in the middle of COVID, I’m not very busy right now.

Please take your Starbucks gift card and pay it forward. Like next time you’re in the drive thru line, buy coffee for the person behind you or something. And that’s just the kind of person I am. I love to share my experiences. I’m a collaborator, not a competitor. And I always learn as much about the person that I’m talking to as the person hopefully learns from me. And so she said, I was the only person who did that. And so she contacted me and she was like, I want to I want to do this with you. And I was like, okay, you do realize, like, literally, I think it was April or May right after the pandemic. It’s really not the best time you get that right. And she’s like, it’s okay. And I really do feel like we were kind of destined to be together because her skill sets are everything that I am not like, I’m the market. It’s kind of like you and Krystal actually

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
I was just about to say that sounds like Krystal and my beginning!

basically, yeah, she is all about systems and our CRM and workflow automations and the travel joy and travel advice templates. And I am all about the social media and the marketing and the networking and the talking and this and that. And so we became a team. And then once I had her on, of course, her being the systems expert, she made me realize that I didn’t really have any in place. And so

That happens to a lot of people. You’re not alone.

Michele Schwartz
Yeah, so she kind of whipped up like, here is what we need to do and through her systems are developed and every time a new IC comes on. Our systems have just gotten better and better and better and because of what she put in place, actually better at self selecting. And I tried to call my team because even though in essence it is everyone’s individual travel business, there are some stipulations but I’m still sure you will ask me about that. So that’s kind of how it started, like I had no intention of getting outside of the Disney bubble or bringing on anybody else. And both of those things kind of happened organically.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
That’s interesting. So you started your IC model, so to speak, in the middle of a pandemic. I want you to back up, though, just and tell us about the foundation of your agency, as I understand it correctly, you are a…. Well, you don’t have to answer this because I’ll toot your horn for you. It’s also very successful blogger. And if I understand correctly, that’s what led you into being a travel agent was you start off blogging? Or no, tell me tell me the right story.

Michele Schwartz
So I was was a very successful blogger. And actually, I’ll be honest, Literally, I know the exact day that I stopped, and it was November 8 of 2016. I woke up.

And I was like, I literally was like, how can I write about weddings and all things happy and engagements and pretty pictures and like, gorgeous wedding cakes and florals because I’m like, they’re basically meaningless right now, like the world is coming to an end. That was the devastation that I felt that day. And I, I just couldn’t do it. And so I couldn’t devote the energy that it needed anymore. And I felt like I taken it as far as I was able to take it. And I sold it.

And that, interestingly enough, it may be what was in my head at that moment, that led me into this kind of dark, deep place. But it turned out, I really think it was the universe talking to me, because I was on the tipping point about getting into wedding blogging, and I was on the tipping point of getting out of it. Like, right after I did sell and get out of it. The whole model kind of turned on its head, the biggest one, she had been my mentor, she actually ended up selling hers to AOL, and they ended up shutting it down. So it was just, I just had a sixth sense about it. And so then it was really like, wow, what am I gonna do now and I kind of, you know, I always love to travel. And that’s definitely part of my, my own self going happy therapy. So, like, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna really learn about the industry. And I had always been in hospitality and the hotel side of it. So I really wanted to learn more about and I ended up in several bad models. So when I decided to go out on my own and start my own, it was really a chance for me to redo all the bad experiences I had had in being hosted or being an independent contractor with others.

And that’s not to say that because in case those people out there listening, that their model isn’t bad, it might work. It just wasn’t for me. And part of that, I think, is because I had been a successful entrepreneur. And I was so passionate about my branding, and about blogging and about SEO and about all the things that I had done as a successful wedding blogger that I didn’t like not having any control about that.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Michele Schwartz
I knew what needed to be done to put my name on the map, as a successor to showcase my, my authority. And I say that in the SEO way to showcase my authority. And I wasn’t able to do that. And and so I really started making memories travel with the idea that it was going to be different than every other model out there. And I took that even as I brought on IC’s – that I wanted them to experience the things that had made me irritated and felt irritated. The bad word. felt like I had a straight jacket on and I was just constantly trying to get out of it like

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Well, you’re Yeah.

Michele Schwartz
So I tried to do things differently. And I think that ultimately, I don’t know if that’s the correct way. Like maybe some of these people actually knew more what they were doing in terms of making Revenue. But in terms of developing a team,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Michele Schwartz
I think that I’ve done a good job at that.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Wow, there’s a lot to unpack there. I think you’re not the only one that went through somewhat of an existential crisis after the results of the last election. And so kudos to you for coming out, you know, the other end and figuring out something that’s gonna work for you. But the second thing is, I totally resonate with what you said about those other people have a model that may produce more revenue, but your goal was to create a team because that’s something that I found in my host agency. You know, I similarly wanted to create an environment that felt like a team felt like a place where people could completely define who they want it to be as a business owner. And, you know, admittedly, it’s, it’s not been the highest revenue producing team, but I feel good knowing that people feel free to do what they want to do in their business, how they want to do it, and that they can depend on each other. So I think what you’re what you’re saying, and what I’m saying is, there’s more than one way to run a business, and it’s okay. So, thank you for sharing that story. And, yeah, so thank you. All right. Move on to the next questions. Um, okay, so now, so since you had your first person, her name is ERin, right, reach out to you. So, you’ve had subsequent people ask to join your team? Um, I guess my question is, why did you decide to bring on subsequent people? Like what, what has been your motivator for bringing on more ICS?

Michele Schwartz
Well, I think originally it was, I want to be an ear marked agency with Disney. Like, that was just the goal that I had put out from the very beginning. I wanted to be earmarked and

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Michele Schwartz
Okay. And that in and of itself has its own like whole controversy that on Facebook, travel agent, Disney groups, you’ll feel the stress of it.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
I can only imagine.

Michele Schwartz
Right when it comes to Disney travel fans get together it’s like and, but that was just something that I really wanted. For my own edification. I’m an educational snob. Like I love to learn if I could be a full time in college, like that was a dream life. So it was just I want that logo. I know that my clients will not necessarily know what what it is, but I want to be able to say it about myself. So I quickly realized that I wasn’t that wasn’t going to happen on my own. And so I think, originally, after Aaron came on board, and she started started to systemize things. I was like, oh, okay, well, if I really want to be earmarks, then now that there’s kind of a model in place for doing this, then I probably need to do it. But again, based on previous hosting experiences that I had had, I was like, no more than 10 that was always like, it was gonna be small, I was gonna keep it small enough to manage. And that included me so no more than nine others. I was like I can do I know that I can become earmarked with that. And I don’t have to be 60 people not being said those 10 or me and the nine others, we’re gonna have to have some serious, like, energy and momentum towards selling Disney. And then it also just worked out that each of us had sort of a different interest in different parts of Disney. And, and I’m also an avid cruiser. So then it was like, I specialize in adult only trips to Disney, but I also love to cruise. So now I kind of wanted to expand into cruises. So then it was like, well, they might as well learn how to book whatever we want. And not and hopefully, you know, become a specialist and more than just Disney even though I try and say in my bio Disney will always have my heart. And that’s and I do still want to be your Mars. But I also didn’t want to be 100% pigeonholed into only my agents only doing Disney so then it just honestly, I I’ve only ever posted about wanting more ICS once or twice. People like Aaron in that same group would talk about me. And it just it was really natural. I I don’t think up until really recently I was ready to like, actually advertise like, Hi, I’m hiring like it was more. Not that I would use those words because not hiring andhiring.

Folks, I just snorted. Sorry for the podcast listener. So I know that’s it, you have to be very careful as a host agency, not to say “hiring” I know. It’s so funny. Your vernacular has to change too once you become a host. Um, that’s interesting. Okay, so it’s just been, I mean, I’m hearing you loud and clear. It’s just been an organic growth, and it’s evolving. And yeah, so that’s, that makes a lot of sense. And, I mean, I think any successful business owner will say that things tend to evolve, and you’d kind of just have to be open to it. And, you know, roll with the punches. So I guess that being said, um, so even though because I think a lot of people when they try to actively bring on ICS. You know, it’s sort of a different process, but at the same time, I’m sure that there’s, you have a good answer for this. Have there been any important lessons that you’ve learned in the process of bringing on ICS? From just sort of like, small technical things like specific CRM to larger like, mindset, structural things? What would you like to share on this?

Yes, yes, and yes, so. Um, so the first lesson that I learned was about myself, and I will say it, this is a recent lesson that I learned that I learned really in talking through with someone the issues of some ICS, who were not at all responsive, like, here, I was paying for their CRM access, and their, you know, email account, they weren’t paying the monthly fees as they were supposed to, even though there had been a contract signed. And I was adamant that I was not an installing sales quotas. And I can tell that story in a minute. So I, I did have a monthly fee in place, but that those invoices were going unpaid. And so in talking through, how do you fire someone who’s you’re not who’s not your employer.

And I mean, that literally, in the vernacular of they’re not our employees, you write it, you cannot require independent contractors to come to a team meeting, you cannot require a certain amount of hours, like it is, in a sense, an independent business for that person.

And if the timing is bad, all you can do is say, Okay, I can’t however, require that you pay my invoices,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Michele Schwartz
Or my monthly fees, because I am paying the overhead of the agency. And so in talking through that with someone, and the person said, “Well, have you given that person sells goals? Have you? How have you managed that person?” You know what, I didn’t get into this to manage people. And that was like this big lightbulb went off. I was like, I’m a team builder, and I’m a great mentor. I’m a shitty personnel manager. Can I say that? Do we have the rating?

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, no, we’re okay with that.

Michele Schwartz
I got out of working in a traditional work environment where I had a manager above me and I managed other people below me because I hated managing someone hated checking to make sure that they clocked in at the right time and doing six month evaluations on on metrics that didn’t have anything to do with their actual output and their job like a theoretically

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
You shouldn’t have to do that with an IC theoretically.

Michele Schwartz
Yes, so that that was the lesson I learned and in a sense. That is what finally turned things in terms of seeking other icees on its head for me, is that I didn’t want to seek someone who was like, No, you’re gonna have to tell me what to do. I wanted to seek someone who was like, I want to learn from you. But I have these ideas too

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Michele Schwartz
And that’s what I say I’m a collaborator. And then I want to be able to offer the person all the resources that I have and all the knowledge that I gained. But ultimately, the person needs to be self managing. Because I’m not going to offer that.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, that’s a really important lesson. And I, I feel like you taught me a lesson about myself, because I’ve been struggling with the very same thing, like, and I have a past career as a military officer. And I would say that, you know, exercise my leadership, team building skills. But I never fancied myself a manager, and I never really realized it until you said that. So thank you for teaching me an important lesson today.

Michele Schwartz
We have an anonymous friend of mine to thank for that.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Nice, thank you, anonymous friends. I think that lends us nicely into our next question, because in a roundabout way, I guess I’m so because so so the question I had planned was, how do you differentiate yourself from other agencies? But I guess along that lines, or if you’d rather answer the question, what is your evolved vetting process that like, how have you changed that?

Michele Schwartz
So those are good, and I can actually answer them both. So when I distinguish myself, I don’t call myself a host agency, really. And I call everyone my team. And I think of us as almost like a co op. As opposed to like, any big decisions, I try and run by the team. But I also have a, I have an agency manager, I have an agency CFO. And so and those have been put in place, you know, since I started but but my vetting process is I actually don’t even talk to the person until they complete some initial training. And it’s supplier based training. And we send out an email that says it’s that Aaron developed my systems gal, it’s automated. She says,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
I need to talk to Erin – she sounds awesome.

Michele Schwartz
You would really jive for sure. It Yeah, um, so it’s, and they have to complete the Disney training and the Universal Orlando training, before I’ll even talk to them. Because that usually will self select out a lot of people, the training is long, it doesn’t actually teach you how to book it, it teaches you the product knowledge. And if somebody can get through it, and then wants to learn more, then I’m like, Okay, now I can talk to you. But first, you have to show me that you really want it. I still do informational interviews. But I don’t offer people to come on board. Like I’ll do an informational interview. And I’ll tell them the questions that they should ask of me and any other agent that they might or agency that they might want to work with, that I don’t just offer people to come in from that. So still I do an informational interview with someone, like how to become an agent, or what questions I should ask or what looking for, and you come back to me and you’re, you’re like, Oh my god, I really love you, Michelle, thank you so much. Here’s your training, let me know when you finish it. And I can tell immediately, if somebody is so excited to learn more, they’ll go through it and in a week. Like they’ll sit down on a weekend they’ll chunk it out. Or they’ll at least email me and tell me Oh, I finished module one, I’m going into module two, like I know immediately how motivated they are. But if it drags out, or I don’t hear from them again, like they’ve self selected out, and that’s great. So then then I will start. So then I’ll schedule an informational or more like an interview process of you know, why do you think you want to do this? How have you talked to other agencies, like my models kind of different? You know, I don’t have sales quotas. And here’s why. I also try and do less of the talking and make them do more. They’re talking. And I talk a lot so that’s hard for me. But I really I want to hear if they’re able to talk to people because ultimately, this is about connecting and talking to people and if you think you’re going to hide behind your screen, you’re not going to be successful. Even just connecting on zoom, like you just you have to be able to put yourself out there. So and then once I talk to people then And then I’ll put them through the onboarding. And we don’t, we don’t set them up with their actual email address, I mean, because once again, that’s, that’s a cost, as in giving them their CRM access, which is a cost to the agency, until they have done all of these other things. And they’re committed, they’ve signed a contract, and they’ve paid their first monthly fee, which covers the access to the CRM, and the access to their email address. And helps to cover at this point, it also helps to cover a few of the other overhead things. I that is something that, as you said in the last segment, and like we are constantly learning and I have learned a little bit more about what my overhead is, again, the difference between me and Erin, my systems, and what my burn rate is. And and that fee is pretty low considering. And that may have to change my ultimate goal

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
That’s something I’ve toyed with a lot. So you’re not alone. And

Michele Schwartz
my ultimate goal was, like I said, as a co op was to split the costs evenly amongst everyone. But then it’s like some of us are doing a lot more work than others. And so how do you how do you do that? And so that’s still something I’m toying with I have said to my team, that it’s not anything that I would change until the end, like until next year, like yeah, now we’re in a good place.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, it’s tricky. And then when you have contracts, you have to like, honor those contracts. And you know, think of the timing, and I have definitely been there, I get it. Well, you’ve inadvertently answered some of my other questions.

Michele Schwartz
I told you I like to talk!

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
No, I love it. I love it. And my plan was not to talk to you much today. So you’re a for talking. So I guess I’m just going to close with to two questions and answer them however you want. Um, so one is do you think that IC business model is for everyone? Or if you’d rather answer it more like, what characteristics Do you think somebody should have before they pursue this model? And in that, like, do you have any specific advice for anybody considering this business model?

Michele Schwartz
So I guess the first piece of advice I would give to anybody considering this business model, is to do just what you did when you started to enter into a travel travel agency. And that is talk to people who have different models, find out why they like their model, or they don’t like their model and what they would want to change about it, and then decide if it’s right for you to do. Secondly. I don’t know that, at least for me that I would think of it as a revenue stream. Like I don’t you know, it what it ultimately is going to help me reach my goal of becoming earmarked and that through volume. So I’m having additional people booking things and that leads to increased commissions. But it is not what Disney actually but with other suppliers. Yeah, but it’s it’s definitely not a, it’s my goal is not to get rich off of other people’s backs. And so I don’t at all, try and take advantage of them. So it’s not a revenue stream. For me. It’s, it’s what I try to have it do is basically not lose money on having them, but also Don’t, don’t try and make money off the backs of their hard work. Um, and then, I guess other thing I would say is, I mean, I don’t know that it is the right thing for everybody. Um, but it doesn’t hurt to at least have one person. Maybe not even that you call an IC but somebody who works to your weaknesses and somebody that you can play to your strengths. Like, I don’t even if I didn’t have IC’s like, I would not be where I am today without having had Aaron to look at the systems area in my business model like you can it’s impossible for us to be good at everything and I it’s just great having a partner, even though Yes, she is in in technicality. She is my independent contractor to have someone who is really really good at things that I am not good at. My agency would not have grown without having her as an addition.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Michele Schwartz
I mean, I think it’s hard to be out there in the pond all by yourself.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Well, and I think there’s a lot of takeaways from what you just said, number one is before you try to grow your agency in any way, make sure you have a solid business foundation. And usually that involves systems, which nobody likes to think about. They’re not sexy or fun. You gotta have them, but very few.

Michele Schwartz
Some people think they’re sexier than others. I’ve as I said, Yeah. And thank God for people like you, thank God for people like you.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
And then the other thing I heard from you is just you can’t, you can’t and you shouldn’t do it alone. And, yeah, there’s so many reasons for that. And however, that manifests in your business structure, whether it’s, you know, you’re a solopreneur, but you just depend on the support from a similarly minded entrepreneurial community, or you have a ICA, or an employee or a business partner, however, you know, that manifests or takes shape. Nobody should and can do this alone. Amen. And you just think deliberately before you, you know, completely change your business model. Right? Yeah, for sure. Yeah.

Michele Schwartz
I mean, that’s something that three of you say, all the time about everything. Like, if you’re gonna do something, make it deliberate. I mean, I obviously didn’t do that. But I think that, I’ve learned that that would have been a better way to have done it

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
in something. But I feel like in a way you let it happen. You so I am not necessarily deliberate. But I feel like you kind of things happened, and you sort of let them happen without trying to force it into some kind of a box. And in some ways, that’s deliberate too. Yeah. can be hard for people if you’re sort of a control freak into sort of letting things evolve in a way that’s deliberately letting go of control.

Michele Schwartz
I definitely did. I definitely did learn that that was Pandemic Lesson number one: We are not in control

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, no, control. No kidding. Yeah. How many times? Do we have to learn that lesson in our lifetimes? Right. Well, I thank you so much for your time today, I think that, you know, you’re talking with you actually, it was quite different than the conversation I had with Denise. So I think it’s gonna be interesting for our listeners to hear your different answers. And I think people will learn a lot from your experience. And then if anybody listening is interested in joining Michelle’s team, which, you know, if I were a new agent, especially interested in Disney, I would be knocking down our door cuz I love the way she described it, that would work for me personally. You know, I know that everybody has different needs. So, um, so yeah, so if you resonated with Michelle, we’re linking her contact information in the show notes. And we will also put her other business in there. She’s has a blogging Academy for travel advisor. So definitely check that out as well. And we intend on doing a future episode with her about her blogging Academy, which I’m basically committing her to right now without her consent. So thank you, I

Michele Schwartz
thank you so much. I you know, I love everything about kth. So I’m always glad to chat with you and I can’t wait to see you in person and about three weeks away. Three, four or five weeks.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, well, by the time this podcast airs, I don’t know what time it’s going to be but but thanks again, Michelle, and be sure to join us for our next episode of Travel Biz CEO

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Travel Biz CEO: Part 1: Bringing on IC’s with Denise Lorentzen

Bringing on independent contractors, or IC’s into your travel business and adopting the Queen Bee model is not for the faint of heart. Many see it as an easy way to make money in the travel industry. Those that take this on will tell you, that nothing could be further from the truth. In this 3 part series, we speak to three very different travel business owners, including our very own Ashley Metesh-McCoy about their decision to bring on independent contractors and the strategies they employ that make them successful. 

Part 1: Bringing on IC’s with Denise Lorentzen

For our podcast we asked our guests the following questions:

1) Tell me about you and your travel agency.
2) Why did you decide to bring on ICs?
3) Are there any important lessons you learned in the process of bringing on ICs that you think other agents should be aware of (if they are also planning on bringing ICs)? For example, would you have set up a different CRM first? Or, done anything differently structurally? Would you have done anything different in onboarding / training / educating the ICs?
4) Do you actively recruit ICs? If so, how do you differentiate yourself from other agencies and how do you recruit? If not, how do you end up with the ICs?
5) Do you think the IC business model is for everyone? Rather, what characteristics should a good “Queen Bee” have?
6) Do you have any specific advice for those thinking about recruiting ICs?

Denise Lorentzen has been in the travel industry since 2006. She has been married for 24 years and has two kids age 20,22.  They live in Boise, ID and she absolutely loves what she does! Denise worked with a few agencies before opening up Dreams Travel Consulting in 2014. Dreams Travel Consulting specializes in Family Travel, Disney Destinations, and Multi Gen groups.  They are in the process of opening up their non-theme park branch called Dreams Travel Network!  Denise’s overall goal was to bring on independent contractors, and in 2017 she was able to begin.  Dreams Travel currently has 12 ICs and most of them specialize in Family/Disney with a few that have branded themselves and are international/cultural/customized. They take brand new to the industry and we also love to partner with advisors that are experienced and need a home that fits their niche.

Because the interview really speaks for itself, we’ve decided to provide the transcripts in lieu of a summary blog. Enjoy!


Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the travel biz CEO podcast. I’m delighted to be joined today by the wonderful Denise Lorentzen. She’s the owner of Dreams Travel consulting, and she has a very active and giving community member of KTA. We’re really grateful to have her in our community. And she is with us today to talk about the whole what we call in the industry, the queen bee model, as in your business model is that you have an agency and you have sub agents or independent contractor. Typically, they’re independent contractors that fall under your agency. And you are a full service agency that has multiple agents serving clients that can come in so many different forms, so many different focuses niches, and everything. But if you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ve heard this as a potentially lucrative, scalable business model for the travel industry. And she has been so generous to provide some of her time and experience in this model. And so I’m going to ask her a series of questions about her experience with this. And I know a lot of you out there considering this type of business model. So we think that this will be really helpful as you go along your path. So without further ado, I want to quickly just let you introduce yourself to us, Denise and tell us about your travel agency.

Denise Lorentzen
Okay. Well, II started Dreams Travel Consulting, officially in 2014. But I’ve been in the travel industry since about 2008. And I have worked as an IC myself, so I was very familiar with the model. I also was a, like a team leader with an agency. So I kind of understood how that progressed. And so I always knew I wanted to have my own business, my own agency, I launched in 2014. And worked at just developing our brand and who we are and kind of selling into that before I brought on icees. And I brought icees on officially in 2017.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, so do you, does your agency have a specialty?

Denise Lorentzen
Yes, we are a family travel specialty. But we we’re our full service we we do everything, we we tend to think that family, it’s not doesn’t have to be the typical parents and kids family is the people you love and the people who you connect with. And so our, our passion is about connecting people and being able to help them bond and make those memories through travel. And so we by default, because we are family travel specialists, we do a heavy amount of Disney.

That is one of our passions. And then we do everything else too. We do a lot of groups like multi generational groups as well. Cool. But you guys can’t see because this is audio only but quite a bit of Disney swag in the background. It’s really cute. And I have to say, as an agency owner who has ICS it’s kind of diff it’s always been difficult for me to answer our specialty too, because when I’ve brought on ICS each of them sort of identifies their own niche. And so it’s kind of, you know, I feel like a queen bee, so to speak, sometimes end up saying, well, we do everything and then so it’s like, well, what does that mean? And it’s like, well, because I have an IC who does this? And I have an ICC does this. So that’s always sort of a hard question to answer and I think you answered it beautifully. So thank you. Yeah, and hard question right off the bat. And and actually I am moving in a direction of bringing on ICS that are a little bit more geared towards something that we can keep everything in house should someone not feel comfortable chart, you know, doing one destination, but somebody else would.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
So cool. Yeah, we’ll have to talk about that.

Denise Lorentzen

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
So I guess my next question is, and this, you know, I think the people listening, are going through this in their minds right now, possibly. Why did you decide to bring on sub agents or ICS?

Denise Lorentzen
I think ultimately, it was because I enjoy helping and mentoring those that are wanting to get involved as well. I remember when I was first new, and I had a couple people stand out to me and kind of held my hand and, and I wasn’t with an agency right away, I was kind of doing it on my own. And it’s very difficult when you don’t have that guidance. So I, I want to be able to give that back and help others grow their business and develop it and mentor them and and teach them.

Teach them the things that we’ve learned the long and hard way. So I enjoy doing that I enjoy monitoring them and and having that bigger picture. It’s definitely a lot of blood, sweat and tears, it takes a while to develop. Yeah, and I don’t I don’t.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
And this is part of the reason we wanted to have these conversations on the podcast, I don’t think a lot of people realize, when they’re considering this business model, how much work it is, it’s not just you, you find, find somebody, and then they just go you write, even if they’re experienced in the travel industry, you still have to train them on how you do things in your agency or consortium or if you’re hosted as well. So you have to be ready to do some mentorship and training, even if it’s a minimal amount. Yes, if you’re not comfortable, and you don’t have the patience for that, you really need to reconsider the idea of pursuing this business model.

Denise Lorentzen
So I totally agree.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, I’m glad that you mentioned that, like your motivator was helping people and train them because it is a huge part of of this, you know, yeah, yes.

Denise Lorentzen
Yeah, you have to want to lead or, um, and it doesn’t have to be massive. But for me, personally, my big picture is not a huge agency, it’s a small boutique agency, but you have to want to put that time in and that energy and to, to mentor them, because that will all be without pay. And you have to look at what’s coming down the what’s coming down the way, you know, it’s it’s going to pay off eventually.

But for me, that’s the beauty of it, you know, to see their wins, and and to be able to celebrate with them. So,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
no, you make a good logistical point. I mean, especially if you’re bringing on brand new advisors, as we all know, it takes time to build up your clientele. And then as we know, further, nobody gets paid until that travels done. So yes, get that commission split that, you know, agency owners usually use as their, you know, justification for having ICS. It takes time. So it’s definitely a long game. So you need to go into it with that mindset.

Denise Lorentzen

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Okay, so that brings me to a really good question. Well, it’s a good question to me. I don’t know if people think it is. But I guess the question is, are there any important lessons that you learned in the process of bringing on other agents that you think people should be aware of as they’re considering this business model?

Denise Lorentzen
And, you know, it could be anything from a very specific technical thing to just a very broad mindset thing, feel free to share away.

Oh, I think one of the first biggest things is value of your time. And make sure that you set up your program, the way that you feel that you want to be valued or paid, because there are other agencies out there that will bring on ICS for for no charge, just as there are agencies that don’t charge a service fee and some that do. So it’s, it’s a model for me. I had to I want my IC’s that come on to have skin in the game and I don’t want them to just think it’s nothing and so I had to find the right balance of putting a monetary value. So I played around with that. I mean, I tried different prices and everything and right now, you know, we have it kind of set where I think that it works for us where there’s a little bit of a larger fee when you join you got your training

Then you have a monthly fee. Um, that to me is probably one of the biggest things is make sure your systems like that are set up ahead of time. Because if you start changing them as you go, then the message set could could not be very well, you know, like, especially if IC’s start talking that and then also your splits like what do you make sure you you are happy with all of that

Take some time and actually talk to other business owners that are doing it to see what they’re doing. I found that most of us were around the same in the split. And I think those are the two most important things. Other than that your your other systems

CRM, that was one mistake where I went in with one, I started with one and then I changed to another. And then yeah. And so finally, I’m just I’ve settled now on something and all the other things I will make, be like, if they want to use it, they can but this is the one main thing they have to use, you know, so there’s no right or wrong answer out there. I mean, even with systems, there’s no right or wrong system, everything has its own value. And it’s just what works. But really take the time to figure out those kinds of things first and put all of that in place.

Yeah, and I mean, the reason why is like if you try to change something like a CRM, it’s one thing when it’s just you by yourself and virtual assistant or whatever. But if you try to change it with even one IC or two or, you know, dozens,


Ashley Metesh-McCoy
you have to retrain them and you have to, you know, reinforce and even

Denise Lorentzen
And all that data, you got to move over and and if so,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
yeah, we’re not saying you know, don’t fix the system, if it’s broken, it’s you know, we all know that sometimes you have to make those difficult decisions. But, I mean, I guess what we’re trying to say, and I don’t know, if you’ve experienced this, if people have come to you for advice on bringing in ICS, when people come to me, usually I find that they have a lot of work to do in their business, or on their business before it would be appropriate to bring on ICS. You know, they’re, they don’t have a contract put together, they don’t have, you know, an SOP, or standard operating system for their client care services. If you can get that stuff solidified and documented before you bring on ICS, your life will be 1000 times easier.

Denise Lorentzen
Yeah, all the forms for onboarding, if you’re trying to grab them as you go, which I did, I had someone come to me and say, I really want to do this, and I was planning on it. But I wasn’t quite there yet. And when she came and it was just like, Oh, you know, this is a sign and so I scrambled to get all that together. So yeah, all the logistics, how are you going to onboard? What’s your training, like, I’ve changed my training several times over, you know, it’s just it and now I’m in the process of can like I’m adding to my training. And so anytime that I choose to do something for them, like a little mini training, I’m, I’m now in a process where Okay, we video it or we you know, we record it, and then on it goes into the library of the rest. So now I’m developing more training as I go. Having all those ideas and lay them out, like actually lay him out. I use Trello board now and, and lay out everything that you want to do on each subject. And your you know, one for your onboarding, and what forms are you going to be sending? And what’s your contract going to be like? And

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
yeah, I have a trello board too.

Denise Lorentzen
Embrace it, but I do love it now.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, Imean, whatever system you want to use, it’s fine. Just make sure it because the more people you bring into your sphere of your agency, the more responsibility you have. And yes, something happens to you. Or even if you’re just on vacation, you need to have that documentation in place so that everything doesn’t come to a screeching halt, you know, right? It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. It’s super boring. Nobody wants to do it, but it’s necessary.

Denise Lorentzen
And I know that they can’t see this, but I actually take everything. Oh, and because I’m I’m a solar entrepreneur, right. And my fear going into it was with all these processes. What If something happens to me, so how so make sure that as part of your planning, of getting all that set, you have to have backups and what you’re going to do, so I basically take everything and print it and put it in here. So I’ve got, you know, are copies of our like seller travel or insurance policy, and just all of that. And then every year, I freshened up all of our information in one. And so it really pre planninga lot of pre planning.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
So you guys didn’t see it, but I’ll just try to describe it to you, she had this really pretty black and white floral designed binder, colored tabs. And I think we might have to have a another podcast conversation about the contents of that binder one days,

Denise Lorentzen
I basically have, again, you can’t see it, but like all of our, you know, anything that’s like business related policies, our bonds, our DBA, everything is copied in here.

Yeah, and I mean, again, if it’s just you, you know, you, you can probably keep that stuff in your head, I know where my, you know, sellers have travel licenses. But if you’ve got seven agents working under you using that sellers of travel, they need to know what that number is at minimum. So, again, it’s it’s not just about you. So organization is key in this business time. Yeah. So my question, my next question for you is, do you actively recruit icees? And if so, how do you differentiate, differentiate yourself from other host agencies? And if not, how did the How do you end up with ICS?

So, um, over the last year, is where I started doing Facebook ads,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Denise Lorentzen
Prior to that, a few of them came to me from referrals, or they were a client. And then so it kind of that kind of happened a little more organically. But when I knew that I actively wanted to grow, and not just wait for one here, one there, I put together a plan. And I do Facebook ads, I find that that gave me the best results. And then whoever I bring in, you know, I interview them, and we go from there, if it’s a good fit, as far as when I do the recruiting or the Facebook ads, I was doing it any time prior. And one thing I learned is to bring it on in, in batches or like certain times of the year, because if not, you’ll be constantly like spitting in the same things over and over and over. So I find that I’m like, this is third quarter. So I’m going to actively start putting the ads out soon, and then bringing them on and be training in the fourth quarter. And then so every other quarter is where I’m going to kind of do that. And that way. Normally, it’ll, for me personally, I wanted it to coincide with when it’s typically wave season, pre COVID. And when we’re typically on our, you know, more busy, I don’t want to be having to train 10 people all at once. And so I’m trying to get into a rhythm that way. So I would say that’s really important is to think about your times, don’t just do it anytime, because sometimes that is a little too overwhelming. And so that’s my main focus right now. And I’ve tried Pinterest, but I haven’t gotten anything from there yet. Couple have been word of mouth, but mainly Facebook ads is as where I got it. And as far as what different differentiates us.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
We both had a hard time with that.

Denise Lorentzen
I mean, you and I have known each other for a while we have wonderful friends in this industry. And so all of us are equally great. And we all have something to bring to the table. So I think it it’s about connecting like when I get on the phone with someone and we start having a conversation and I can hear their passion and and it connects for me I think I’m going to come from a place of we’re not just going to be transit like a transaction we were going to be there as a family so that I the people that I want to bring on are going to enjoy being a part of something and and kind of be in that family feel.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Cool. Yeah, I like that and it works perfectly with your your family travel.

Denise Lorentzen
Exactly. Actually backtracking a little bit to the bringing them on through Facebook ads. I actually did Several types of ads. And I found that when I used a Disney focused ad, bringing them on, like, Are you the Disney go to, you know, friend everyone goes to, then I was getting more much more. So then those people came in with a connected love. Hmm have a destination or product. And then from there I have been helping them to develop and not put all their eggs in one basket. So don’t. Yeah,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
sorry, go ahead.

Denise Lorentzen
Just don’t I not to focus on the one subject or the one supplier, but the whole family kind of focus? Yeah,

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
yeah. That one Disney agent I had on my team, we worked on that quite a bit too, because? Well, there’s lots of reasons and we don’t have to go into that. But I like to call Disney the gateway drug to travel agent, because so many agents come into the industry as Disney specialists,

Denise Lorentzen

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
And then they brought it out. So it is it is funny that you noted that like a very specific marketing example. So

Denise Lorentzen
it definitely is, because when I did general ads, I didn’t get nearly the amount of interest. So I’m like, okay, that’s where it is. And that’s cool. And then like I set them up, when we train, we start with their Disney training and their training for me. But then I started immediately, you know, talking to them, I make them like choose their top five suppliers. Like, that’s a good training, like, give me five suppliers, and then those are going to be the ones you’re going to be like your go twos.

Mm hmm. That’s a good idea. Yeah. Okay, so I have two more questions. And I feel like they’re all kind of related. So I’m just going to kind of ask them to you, at the same time, you tell me where you want to go with what we’re okay. Where do you want to go with it? So do you think the icy business model or the queen bee business model is for everything? Or everyone? And I guess a better way to ask that is, what are some good characteristics for someone who’s pursuing that model? And then just generally speaking, do you have any specific advice for those thinking about recruiting? ICS?

Um, so I don’t think it’s for everyone. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you do have to have a passion for wanting to leave, but the train and mentor and help, you have to have that passion, because there are times where you’re gonna get questions, and you’re not gonna be able to do your own thing, sometimes I find that my stuff isn’t getting done as quick maybe, and because I’m working on things for them. So you’re going to want to have that drive and that desire to to grow. Um, I have learned, personally, that I am actually enjoying that the more I get involved and do more, I’m actually enjoying it a lot more than I thought. So that’s one thing. And I think that you can, you don’t have to be huge, you can build that model if you wanted to have a few. So it’s not as overwhelming. And you enjoy that to some extent. And then, but just you got to find your right, your right place in that, like, how many is good for you? And what do you vision, your agency being like, because, because if you’re an active seller yourself, and you get too big, you’re not gonna be selling anymore, you know, you’re going to need to be focusing on all the, the work stuff. And as far as advice, I mean, I think everything we have talked about is actually getting everything in place. Mm hmm. And, and don’t, you’re going to make changes as you go, because that’s what happens. But try not to try to be set up somewhat before you bring that first person on. That way. You don’t have to be learning how to handle it, learning them, training them, and then changing things as you go.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
great advice

Denise Lorentzen
Be prepared.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah. No, and I’m, I’m so appreciative of having this conversation with you. Because, you know, you really made me think of things differently too, like your, the way that you bring people in and what kind of waves

Denise Lorentzen

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
no pun intended, because we tried to avoid bringing them on for wave season, probably. But yeah, no, that’s a great idea. And just, um, you know, I I’ve said I’ve shared similar experiences for sure. Yeah. So it’s really cool to talk to you and I want to thank you again. And here we’ll share your information how people can get in contact with you. If anybody listening is potentially interested in joining Denise’s team. You know what, we’ll have those that information in the show notes. And any final parting words, Denise?

Denise Lorentzen
Um, you’re not alone? Yeah. Yeah.

I mean, there’s there’s a lot of people that get into this, this industry and feel alone, but getting into the right groups, you’re definitely not alone. And there are other owners that are completely willing to, to hold your hand throughthat setup.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
Yeah, you were telling me beforehand, I don’t know if we want to name them, but to other people I know of who are wonderful people and agency owners. She regularly talks to

Denise Lorentzen

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
And when I started my, you know, queen bee model, I had a couple people that I talked to, to, you know, work through all those kinks. So

Denise Lorentzen
having having your people forming those friendships and groups and, and groups like KTA, you know, being in groups where, you know, you can be vulnerable, you can ask for questions, you’re gonna get real help. You’re, it’s it’s all everyone’s there for the same reason. So I highly recommend getting involved in that. So

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
yeah, definitely. Thank you. Thanks for your endorsement of those means a lot when we get people as awesome as you given us your stamp of approval. So yeah,

Denise Lorentzen
it’s it’s definitely I couldn’t go back to not being parts of groups. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And there’s different groups out there for different reasons and everything and finding your own home is is good, but really, I think that people shouldn’t have to feel like they’re alone in trying to navigate it.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy
You can’t You can’t do it alone. Yeah, well on that note, you are not alone. We are all here for you. You listeners, you should know where to find us. If you’re not on our public group, which is totally free. Check us out at the travel advisor training and mentorship group in on Facebook. And of course you can always find us at Kinship Travel Academy dot com and we will, as I said, share Denise’s information. Thank you so much again, Denise and great day,

Denise Lorentzen
you too.

Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Transcribed by


Travel Biz CEO Interview with Stephanie Cannon
Podcast, Travel Agent Education, Travel Business CEO

Travel Biz CEO: Do You Know Your Finances?

Do you understand your business finances?

This week on the Travel Biz CEO Podcast we are excited to welcome Stephanie Cannon. Stephanie is a former CPA turned successful travel advisor and a member of Kinship CEO Membership.

When it comes to numbers and data, too many travel advisors stick their head in the sand and outright ignore their numbers. Stephanie helps other travel advisors and entrepreneurs lean into their discomfort and fear of numbers and demystifies the process once and for all.

So we asked Stephanie: what are the most common obstacles or problems that she recommends travel advisors focus on?

When working with other agents, the most common thing that people need to work on is mindset.

We keep telling ourselves that numbers are hard. Getting past the mindset piece is one of the biggest hurdles that advisors and entrepreneurs need to overcome when dealing with their finances.

Most believe that you must be an expert to be good at running your numbers for your business. Or that you must have an accounting background to be good at it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Stephanie agrees that she has a definite leg up with her background as a CPA, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. It means that it is just something you need to learn and put it into practice.

The next thing is that advisors need to make tracking finances a part of their routine.

Making tracking your finances a part of your routine is vital to your business success.

How many people do you know wait until tax time to pull their numbers and perform basic bookkeeping?

Too many.

The problem is that without tracking your numbers routinely throughout the year, you have no real benchmarks to measure and know if you have reached your goals for your business.

At a minimum you should be tracking quarterly. This makes tracking your finances seem much less overwhelming and easier to tackle.

Create systems and SOP’s that you can put in place to be consistent.

If you know what you need to do, then you automatically have a system in place and know exactly what needs to be done.

Creating those systems and checklists in place give you predictability quarterly on what you need to track, and helps you stay on track with a routine.

Spoiler alert: Stephanie provides a checklist to agents! Click here to grab yours!

But don’t stop at the basics. You aren’t done yet. Going beyond the basics is where the magic happens.

Tracking financial basics and metrics overtime is great, but running reports that analyze those metrics is the next level.

Based on those analytics and metrics you know where to tweak.

Looking at averages like:

  • Commission rates
  • Service fees
  • Booking size
  • Conversion rates
  • Sales

When you know these numbers, you know what goals to set for the year for your business.

And that is what makes you an intentional business owner – A real travel business CEO!

Stephanie Cannon will be running a workshop in our membership program called Back to Basics for our August Monthly Class. Be sure to join and check that out!

This fall she will also be running her 4M Approach Workshop in her private group to help advisors figure out where they are leaking money in their travel business.


Stephanie Cannon is a former CPA, who made the leap to solopreneurship 14 years ago. It’s time to ditch the bank balance accounting and master a system that sets you up for higher profits and wealth. For more about Stephanie and the AH-mazing programs that she offers, check out You can find her on Facebook and in her private Facebook Group: The First-Class Profit Lounge with Stephanie Cannon

Download her FREE calculator and start using this key indicator in your travel business. It’s simple, quick, and packed with so much POWER should you choose to use it.

Podchaser - Travel Biz CEO

Business of Travel, Podcast, Travel Business CEO

Travel Biz CEO: Sales with Glenda Beagle

This week on the Travel Biz CEO podcast we are thrilled to welcome Glenda Beagle from the Art of Selling Travel.

You might remember Glenda from our 2020 Virtual Travel Career Summit. Glenda is an industry leader in sales and has helped numerous travel agency owners make the leap from brick and mortar set ups to at-home, digital entrepreneurs.

From an early age she learned how to leverage her competitive nature to hit her sales goals.

Glenda knows that it’s wasn’t about selling for the sake of selling – and often that is what intimidates people into making sales. Sales is about listening so intently to your client that they get what they need, not just what they want.

To put it simply, sales is getting something for something else. Whether it is money for a service or a product – sales is attention for the outcome you want.

Glenda teaches a 12 week coaching program for travel agents called the Travel Sales Authority. You can learn more about her and her program at

The Silver Bullet
Business of Travel, Podcast

Travel Biz CEO: The Silver Bullet

The Silver Bullet


The magic bean. The one thing that you need to do to have instant success in your travel business.

Yep, we are going there.

What is the silver bullet, the one thing that will make ALL the difference and give you overnight success?

It’s the tactics that are constantly sold. If you JUST did this ONE thing, you will be successful.

Well, we hate to break it to you. That ONE thing doesn’t exist.

From an operations standpoint, there are a LOT of great tools and tactics that you can incorporate into your business to streamline things and make your back end run smoother. But those things are different for every entrepreneur.

From a mindset standpoint, there are little things you can do and incorporate into your routine to make your business run smoother, but we’d never go so far as to call them a silver bullet. They are constant works in progress.

For example, working on your confidence will help you as an entrepreneur. As will working to find your purpose. But these are not check marks on a list – that once you find your confidence you are done and never have to work on it again. Confidence and purpose are evolving practices that an entrepreneur must work on.

In marketing, silver bullet tactics are constantly being advertised. If you used this social media product or tactic, you will be successful. And that’s just not how this works.

And the main problem is that we are starting at the end. We are starting at the sale and the product and the destination. The most useful thing a travel advisor can do is take a step back and start at the beginning.

Who is your PERSON?

P- What is their problem?

E- What is their ecosystem? What blogs do they read? Where do they hang on social media?

R- What is their residence? Their demographics? Where do they live? Who do they live with?

S – What is their status? What do they prioritize? How does that make them feel?

O – What offers are they interested in? What are they willing to spend money on? What do they buy?

N – What other nuances can you look at? What is their personality? What do they value? What do they enjoy?

From that point on all marketing should serve to speak to and answer the questions and concerns of your PERSON.

And all of this happens in a business ecosystem. You work your business systems, marketing strategies, and mindset in concert with one another.

There are just a few certainties that you can count on:

  • You will need to build resiliencies.
  • You need to be willing to try new things.
  • You must always be testing.
  • You will fail.
  • You will need to try again.


That’s why at Kinship Travel Academy we teach members our best practices in mindset, marketing, and business operations for travel advisors to try and build into their business with a community to support you and back you up. You can learn more about Kinship CEO Membership and our program here.


Do you feel balanced in your business?

Balance. Do you have it?

Without a doubt 2020 knocked travel advisors off balance unlike ever before. But the fact remains that most advisors before the pandemic didn’t have balance in their business.

What do I mean by that?

Often when I bring up the idea of “balance” people often think of busy mom’s trying to “have it all” or yogis in a tree pose. And while it’s not far off, today I’m talking about balance between the three main areas all entrepreneurs must balance: marketing, business, and mindset.

Why those three?

A healthy balance of marketing, business, and mindset is what propels you forward on the path to success. It gives you clarity and confidence in your travel entrepreneur journey.

Why marketing?

Because if you don’t have a marketing system – a system in place that gives you a steady stream of clients – you don’t have a business. You have a hobby that caters to family and friends. You don’t need to be in this business long to agree that family and friends often make the worst clients.

And if you don’t have a marketing strategy that continually attracts your ideal client, then you have a very resentful, frustrating job.

Why business?

If you don’t have business systems in place – CRM’s (client relationship management tools), ways to automate and accept payments, financial tracking tools, itinerary management tools, trip financial tracking tools, etc. – you let you business run you. You never know where you stand or what your next step can be. It makes it that much harder to scale, hire for help, or add independent contractors to the mix. Business systems also enhance the client customer experience, making you more professional and appear as more of an expert.

Why mindset?

Your mindset is the glue that holds it all together. It is the belief that you can achieve and be successful in this endeavor. It is the grit and resilience you need when it gets hard (and it will get hard). And it’s the optimism you need that will carry you through to success.

It is easy as an entrepreneur to become despondent when things get tough. A resilient mindset is what will carry you through those times.

That, in part, is why we created KTA Membership. KTA focuses on finding balance between your Mind (Marketing), Body (Business Operations), and Soul (Mindset) of your travel business. Because it’s not enough to have just one. So we teach all three. Each quarter you get a balanced approach through monthly classes that focus on one of the three areas. We teach blueprints and frameworks that help you create effective digital marketing strategies, financial tracking and planning courses to help you create a business, and mindset and resiliency foundations guided by a certified life coach.

KTA is a program for modern travel advisors, created by modern travel advisors, to help you gain mastery and balance in your travel business and make you the CEO of your travel enterprise. Membership opens October 24th. Click here to learn if KTA is right for you, or to join the waitlist and be the first to be notified of when membership opens up.

Business of Travel, Podcast, Travel Advisor Mindset, Travel Industry

Small, Simple & Successful


When you hear of success stories in the travel industry, often we are referred to people who earn six figures.

It becomes the intangible goal that everyone must work towards: you must strive to make six figures.

But is that enough? And do you want to do all of the things it takes to earn a six figure income as an entrepreneur?

What does it take to earn six figures?

In this week’s episode, we dive into asking just these questions.

For most travel entrepreneurs this is a second, third, or fourth career. Or for others this is a second job.

But the last thing any entrepreneur needs to believe is that they are less than, or unsuccessful because they aren’t hitting or have no desire to hit a six figure earning earmark.

It is possible to be small, simple, AND successful.

It is possible to have a small travel business that earns $20k-$30k a year that supplements your family income, or funds your own travel. It doesn’t make you less of an expert or less of a professional.

It does mean you are running your business by your own design and by your own definition of success. 

And that level of self awareness and empowerment is about as successful as you can get.


Get Your GROUP On
KTA, Travel Agent Education

Get Your GROUP On


We are back!

Welcome back to Season 2 of the Travel Biz CEO Podcast. We are so excited to kick off our second season of Travel Biz CEO with a topic that is near and dear to all of us: group travel planning.

The Group business model has a lot of appeal for travel advisors. For many it can mean fewer trips to plan, and larger commission checks. It also can lead to individual travel from your group members.

In the travel industry the current teachings focus on the Joint Venture model: Find a pied piper or group leader and have them promote and fill the group in exchange for a share of the commission or a TC – tour conductor credit.

However, more and more travel advisors are expressing their desire to lead group trips. And it sounds wonderful on the onset!

The travel advisor works intently behind the scenes. They pick the right supplier. They curate an incredible itinerary.

They go to announce, and then….crickets.

The group doesn’t fill.

What went wrong?

Usually, it’s because the travel advisor launched to a cold audience. They haven’t taken the time to grow and build a community. In other words, they put the cart before the horse.

Community leaders and influencers fill group trips. Travel agents peddling itineraries to cold audiences get crickets.

That’s why our inaugural KTA Adventures Travel Workshop Series has chosen Get Your GROUP On as the theme for our first retreat.

We are teaching travel advisors how to:

  • Take their community and leads from cold to warm to hot
  • How to become a community influencer
  • Why it is important
  • How to grow your community
  • How to sell travel to your community
  • And more!


What we learned launching a podcast


Bonus Episode: What we learned in launching this podcast!

Hey there! In this BONUS episode, Krystal popped in on the podcast to share with you some of the things we learned in launching our Travel Biz CEO Podcast.

First of all, launching anything is tough. You are smack dab in an FFT. You have no idea what you are doing. And the feelings of overwhelm are real. Here are our tips.

1. Create Your Content Calendar

Seems simple enough, right?

Yet how many of you are shooting from the hip, and scrambling week after week to churn out content hours before it is scheduled to go out.

You guys…..stop!

Seriously. we see so many people last minute scrambling to churn out content last minute. This takes you out of your “creative zone” and keeps you locked in to your “assembly line production zone.” And that’s not a fun place to be in.

Creating a content calendar – a simple outline and schedule of what you are going to talk about and then batch creating your content ahead of time will save you from that feeling of anxiety and overwhelm.

That leads us to our next tip…..

2. Don’t be afraid to delay your start

What would happen if you didn’t launch right away?

What if you took the time to slow this process down and work ahead? That way you could launch with some breathing room.

The bottom line: there’s not a lot of room for mediocrity when it comes to content. These days, people won’t waste their time with poorly written and/or executed content.

By taking the time to do things right – from the beginning – gives you a solid foundation to build on. Often, it’s better to delay starting to send out your email newsletter or launching your blog, so that you have the space to create content ahead of time.

3. Hire out things that are outside your “Zone of Genius.”

In the podcast, Krystal talks about how she bought a course on podcasting, and then let it sit in her course repository for a little over a year. Making the decision to hire Lindsay McCargor, whom we found on Upwork,  was one of the single best decisions we could have made at Kinship Travel Academy.

Lindsay, took us out of “ideation” and into “execution.” Having done this for several podcasters, we met a few times to talk about what we wanted for the show, and she executed everything else. When you start something new like a blog or a podcast, you don’t know what you don’t know. Hiring someone that works and lives in this headspace helps you make decisions like where should you host your podcast? Should you include transcripts? How do you write your show notes?

You get the idea.

Finally, we work in an industry where we want to be hired and paid for our expertise, and yet so many travel professionals hesitate to pay others for their expertise. 

We want travelers to give up the DIY mothod of planning travel, and yet too many of us are trying to DIY our businesses.

No more!

Don’t be afraid to delegate and outsource tasks that don’t play to your strengths. Period.


Finally, a big THANK YOU to all of our listeners. This first season was a TON of fun to produce. We cannot wait to come back in June for Season 2. Until then, keep kicking ass in your travel businesses. We will see you next season on Travel Biz CEO.