Host Agency Host Agency

Interview: From Part Time to Multi-Million Dollar Travel Business

Interview By:  Angela  Ogg, Assistant Editor for Travel Professional NEWS®


Interviewing: Lisa Long, Owner, Luxury Vacations LLC, An Independent Agency in the Avoya Network™ 



Thank you so much for taking the time to sit with us today! We are really excited to hear a bit about you, your story and your overwhelming success! 


In a recent Press Release, you mentioned that positivity is one of the main reasons you have found success, what is your driving force that keeps you in this positive state? 

One of the things that helps keep my mindset positive is to have an attitude of gratitude.  


I look for things to appreciate during my workday. It might be a nice cruise line or tour representative that went out of their way to help, it might be a colleague from Avoya Travel that gave me some information or an idea, or a nice customer that I had a great rapport with.   


Equally important, I let people know I appreciate them, and say “Thanks, I really appreciate you!” It lets the person know I’m grateful to them, and even more, it helps me stay positive.   


I also have motivational quotes, awards, photos from Avoya events and my travels on my home-office walls. I can actually see these positive reminders and reasons I love this business. 


I truly believe your thoughts create your reality! 


We all know that in life there are ups and downs and that also goes with business. In your time of being an entrepreneur, what is one pivotal moment that pushed you to the next level? 

During my first year with the Avoya Travel Network™ I attended their Annual Conference.  


At the conference, I met fellow Independent Agency owner, Molly. She had a great positive outlook and we formed a friendship where we helped motivate each other to reach our individual goals. I called Molly my “motivational buddy” and she helped me stay motivated after I left the conference.  


We had decided that the next year we wanted to wear the top producer ribbons at Avoya’s conference, and we kept that focus. Throughout the year we talked on the phone, e-mailed and texted. It might be just a quick text when we saw each other’s name on Avoya’s “recent booking list,” but it helped us keep going strong. 


And the best part, we both wore ribbons at the next year’s conference. 


What kind of studying and research do you recommend for those who are considering coming into the travel business? 

Pick a couple specialties and get to know them well. Research the vendor website, their brochures, and read reviews on their products. Also, call the vendor, ask questions, and keep notes. 


I think it’s important to make the investment to experience the products and destinations you sell. You give so much back to clients when you can make recommendations from personal experiences, and the client will hear that confidence 


Avoya Travel seems like a great partnership to have, how did you end up on deciding they were the right choice for you as a Host Agency? 

I was working with a franchise owner of another host agency when she decided to close the franchise and affiliate her agency with Avoya Travel.  I then took a look at Avoya and was immediately excited about their Live Leads™ program.  


Avoya’s Live Leads were important to me and to where I wanted to go in the business. I already knew that I didn’t enjoy the marketing aspect of the cruise sales business and that my expertise was consulting with people about cruises not marketing. 


Avoya has far exceeded my expectations. While they spend millions of dollars on cutting-edge marketing so that I can receive new client leads, Avoya does so much more for my business so I can focus on selling.  


When I was first researching Avoya, I was also impressed that Avoya was a well-established host agency and had a stellar reputation with the cruise lines. Aligning with a respected partner was important. 


It’s such a great thing to have the experience of the trip so that you can relate to the customer, what things do you pay attention to while on these trips to help guide your customers? 

Most importantly when taking a cruise, I always look for what is exceptional in the brand and what makes them stand out from the other lines, such as food selection, specialty restaurants, entertainment, out of the ordinary shore excursions, and artwork. I even pay attention to the little things like bedding, pillow selection, and toiletries. 


I always introduce myself to the hotel manager and ask for a tour of the different cabin categories. I pay attention to the room layout, size, storage, and other details. I check out the spa and gym, and note what exercise equipment they provide, such as bikes, Nordic sticks, and exercise classes. 


I also focus on what measures the ship has in place for security. These days my customers really appreciate that I can share this information first-hand. 


I like to get first-hand knowledge of customer service. I keep my eyes open to see how the vendor deals with any guest issues, such as how they handle it if someone does not make it back on the ship on time. 


In the mentioned Press Release, it says how Avoya’s marketing helped you tremendously, what other benefits has Avoya Travel provided as your Host Agency that has helped you along your way? 

Avoya Travel has many resources that support me in all aspects of running my business so that I can dedicate my time to planning and booking vacations for my clients. Their education, technology, support staff, and reputation are what stand out most for me. 


Specifically, Avoya’s Mastermind Program™ has been a real blessing to my business and is a great resource for motivation, support, education, and connection. I’m also impressed with the numerous daily educational opportunities that Avoya offers, including vendor sessions, sales webinars, and best practice sharing. The best part is that I can participate live or view achieved sessions when it’s convenient for me. 


Avoya’s technology is amazing and has helped me be more efficient. Their web-based Agent Power™ system has an integrated booking engine, calendars, and great follow up software. I can also access new client Live Leads™ 24/7/365 via Agent Power. The leads and everything I need to conduct business are available when I want to work and from anywhere in the world – even while I’m on a cruise!  


I also know I’m not in business alone because Avoya’s dedicated support staff is always there if I need anything. They assist with aspects of business that take time away from selling, including accounting and tracking commissions. Avoya even has a team dedicated to securing exclusive promotions and group space with the vendors so that I have a competitive edge with clients. 


Avoya’s Integrity and Professionalism™ is incredibly important to me. It’s not just a mission statement, Avoya truly lives it in all aspects of the company. And, they’ve aligned with great partners such as with the American Express Travel Representative Network and reputable suppliers. I feel like I have relationships with the best in the business. 


Being a part of the Avoya Network™ is a good fit for my business. I appreciate their core values and am so proud to be affiliated with this organization. 


After your successful journey of business what advice would you give to a Travel Professional barely starting off? 

Don’t give up. Be patient with yourself.  It takes time to get comfortable with selling travel. Take advantage of the vendors’ and your host agency’s educational programs to become a true expert. 


Also, don’t sweat the small stuff. Things change, commissions change, leads change, bookings cancel, and it’s easy to get caught up in the fear at times; however, it doesn’t do any good to dwell on it.  If you do, it will paralyze you.  


Then, after you have the basic skills to sell travel and run an agency, I think being successful is really all about attitude. Stay positive.