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Achieving Your Passion & Purpose as a Travel Professional

Independent by Liberty Travel Article for Travel Agents

Written By: James N. Bovino, General Manager and Brand Leader – Independent by Liberty Travel


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In November I had the privilege of addressing the general session at Travel Weekly’s Cruise World show in Fort Lauderdale where I discussed principles that have guided me throughout my personal and professional career. It was exciting to share with an audience of incredible travel advisors my personal journey grounded in two constants that inspired me, with the hope that they would, in turn, be motivated to look at their personal and professional endeavors and pursue a way forward to continued success. I am happy to share that same story with you!


Passion and purpose are two constants that, when married together, lead to ultimate satisfaction and happiness in life. First, let’s chat about igniting the passion within you. At 12 years old, my family went on one of our frequent trips to Disney. But what was special about this trip was that I actually booked it myself. How? I got the travel bug at an early age and for as long as I could remember I was very fortunate to travel the world with my family. I watched my mom plan amazing experiences and I wanted to do it myself. So, when it was time to plan our next trip to Disney, she put me on the phone. I told the reservationist what we wanted to book and because I was young and my voice was pitched very high the agent, of course, addressed me as ma’am.


From that young age and into my teenage years, I took over vacation planning duties with my mom at my side, and I became known as ma’am, nice lady, and, above all, frustrated travel agent. But I didn’t care. All I knew was that travel ignited a passion within me, and I loved planning these incredible experiences for my family. It sparked something in me that just wouldn’t go away and I was fortunate to discover it at such an early age as it carried me through my entire life. What’s more, I did this well. I would assume that many of you reading this article are probably also as passionate as I am about travel and that is why you are in this industry that we love so much.


So that’s the one half of the equation. The other is finding your purpose. Do you like what you do? Do you understand why you do it? Is it meaningful work in which you make a difference? Does it give you a valid reason for your existence on the planet? Think about when you graduated from college and received your cap, gown, and diploma. Everyone was so proud of you and felt you were ready to take on the world. For me, amidst all those congratulations, I was thinking “What the heck does that even mean? I have no clue what I want to do with my life – I’m more lost than ever!” Sound familiar?


And so begins the journey of “trying on” different jobs in various industries, interviews, loving your job, hating your job, running scared, climbing ladders, and diving into different roles hoping that one will actually stick and tick off that box of meaningful, and maybe, just maybe fall into the category of fulfilling and satisfying. For me, a Disney internship was my first stop and then I ended up taking a role as a sale manager for a mid-size home builder in Scottsdale, Arizona. Again, I didn’t really know what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just figured I have a college degree, and this is a great job for a guy like me with a business background.


What I started to notice was that of all the job responsibilities I had, there was one piece of my role that really started to emerge as my absolute favorite, and that was coaching and developing my sales team. As I worked with them one on one seeking their strengths, expanding their skill sets, and developing new ideas and strategies, I started to see my work having a direct impact in their success. This gave me great satisfaction. With every new enlightened thought that emerged that they didn’t know they had, or goal they achieved that they didn’t feel they were capable of, I grew prouder. Their success became my success. I felt I was making a difference and that my work had purpose. I realized that my purpose was to be a master developer and that my life’s work is to motivate and drive achievement through inspiration.


So, I knew what ignited my passion, and I had found my purpose. However, remember when I said that ultimate happiness comes only when the two are united? The frustrated travel agent in me never went away, mind you, he was just hanging out back in that horrible seat in economy near the lavatory. And while I was happy working in the real estate industry and my work had purpose, I wasn’t truly passionate about my work. While I was comfortable, I wasn’t getting any younger and a decision had to be made. But what a risk to leave it all behind! I needed a sign…


They say sometimes when you don’t listen to life’s little nudges, you get a shove. The shove, for me, was more like a body slam called the 2008 real estate crash which pretty much shoved me and most of my colleagues right out of our careers. Sign? Check. I took a vacation and came back with the mission to start my career over, and this time once and for all in the travel industry. I began my career with Flight Centre and over the past eight years in several roles I finally was able to align my passion and purpose. As a Team Leader, an Area Leader, and now as General Manager of our host network Independent by Liberty Travel, my everyday revolved around growing and developing consultants, leaders, and independent advisors to achieve their goals and aspirations. Once the two were finally unified was when I finally found my ultimate happiness. I have never experienced greater joy and satisfaction in my work and my personal life than I do right now.


While it took quite a few years, I have been able ignite my passion and find my purpose. Have you? Take a moment and think about it. Where are you in the journey? Let’s talk about your personal life first. I believe your personal endeavors are more important than your career endeavors because they accompany you your entire life. Are you a father? A mother, brother, sister, uncle? Are you passionate about the personal role you play? Do you find purpose in it? In your personal pursuits be it as a coach for one of your kids’ athletic teams, an avid reader, a performer on stage, artist, or world traveler, do you find passion and purpose in all these activities? Amazing! If not, maybe it’s time to think about what personal activities will fulfill and satisfy you.


In your professional life as a travel advisor have you found your noble purpose, and do you understand the responsibility that you have when working with your clients? Do you realize that every day in your role, when you plan amazing travel experiences for your clients, by broadening their horizons you are shaping and molding their perspectives and world view? Every time that plane takes off for a distant land, your clients are exposed to new cultures, people, and experiences that change their lives forever. All because of you. The noble purpose of the travel advisor creates lifelong memories in a way that no other role possibly can. Don’t ever underestimate the awesome responsibility that comes with the role that you play in your clients’ lives. Therefore, it is more important than ever before that we do our jobs as advisors exceedingly well. So well, in fact, that your clients can’t picture ever booking their travel elsewhere because you demonstrate your passion and purpose, proving time and time again that we are an irreplaceable and invaluable component in the art of the curated travel experience.


Whatever you choose to do ask yourself, does it ignite my passion, does it fulfill my purpose?
Don’t hold back and don’t settle for half. Know that the joy and satisfaction that will come is worth every mile of the journey!