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Travel Professional Success Stories – Danny Genuine


Travel Professional Name: Danny Genung

Agency Name: Harr Travel Inc.

Location: Redlands, CA

Host Agency Name: Nexion

Years as a Travel Professional: 12

Specialization or Niche: Cruise and Private Guided Custom Guided Groups



What led you to be a Travel Professional? 


Growing up my grandfather had a small agency that specialized in incentive travel but did a little leisure as well.  I started cruising at a young age and immediately fell in love with exploring the world. When I was a teenager my first job was at my grandpa’s office sorting brochures, putting together documents and checking the fax machine.  I spent thousands of hours learning and dreaming about destinations, cruise ships, cruise itineraries and exotic travel.  It was the experiences that made me dream about traveling though.  I will never forget going to Europe with my grandparents when I was 16.  I had just finished an AP European History class and then I got to see castles, cathedrals, the Vatican, Louvre and the Hermitage.  History came alive and was real on this adventure.


At which point did you know that this was the career for you? 


When I was in college I had the best study abroad experience possible where spent nearly 6 months visiting every corner of Europe.  I met my wife in Austria and we both knew that travel would always be central to our lives.  I started teaching full time and travel became my second career that I did on nights and weekends for 10 years.  About 18 months ago when my wife and I found out we were going to be parents, we made the decision together that I would go all in and pursue my dream of owning and running a successful travel agency.  With the mentorship of Jackie Friedman, Nexion President, I hired a full staff and took off running full speed ahead.  Now I work a job that I love every day and get to be with my daughter throughout the day.  She is with me right now sailing the Mexican Riviera while I work.


Did defining your Specialty or Niche increase your business? If so, how did you find your Niche? 


My niche is creating, marketing and escorting private custom groups.  When I was teaching full time, I starting taking my middle school students to Europe.  I developed an educational program that started 6 months before the trip and prepared all travelers with info on what to pack, how to travel in a group, geography, history, culture and more.   While traveling, I was able to tie this information to what we experienced to make a long lasting experiential memory.  After a few years, I was able to translate that the level of service and preparation I was providing to leading alumni, friends and family and promotional groups.  I started with student groups as well as university alumni groups, but now it has branched to include just about any group one can dream up.  In our business, the scariest part of the process is completing a perfect booking and then having to trust the supplier to provide the experience that the customer expects. By escorting my travelers, I can help monitor and make sure that they get the experience that they want.  If something goes wrong, then I am also there to boost morale and handle the details.  By leading these groups my clients really get to know me, my knowledge and usually become lifelong customers.  They become better travelers and I become a better leader.   It also gives me access to friends and family of travelers who would not be my clients otherwise.  There is no better way to get to know someone than to travel with them.  I also have the ability to bring my wife and little one along most of the time and we create lifelong memories.  I have now escorted close to 1500 passengers on adventures and experiences around the world.


By growing our group business, we have now had 2 consecutive years of 50+% growth.  Many of these customers then come back to us to book any and all of their travel.  One of the things I love the most about the travel industry is that most of my friends and peers have specialties that are completely different than what I do, but they are all successful.  Many times, narrowing the focus can make your business explode.


Have you always worked with a Host Agency? If not, can you share how working with your Host Agency has helped you? 


At the very beginning of my career I did not use a host.  My grandfather never had and I didn’t quite understand the value. Once I found Nexion, everything changed for me.  Having the negotiating power that the Travel Leaders Group provides, I have all of the tools that I need.  I would never have been able to do it on my own.   Nexion is a family and as someone who generally works alone, this is huge.  The staff and fellow agents are my work family and have given me the confidence to succeed.


What three things about working with your Host Agency has been the most useful and helpful? 


Increased commissions, block space, training, accounting and networking are the biggest pieces. At the Nexion events I have access to industry executives, reps and fellow agents who make me a better travel agent.  I also have a network of Nexion agents who are all experts in what they do.  We share information daily and help each other out whenever we need it.  This in turn makes me an expert for my clients in so many more destinations and products than I would ever be able to on my own.  Nexion has my back and that is beyond valuable.


What aspects of your Host Agency led you to your decision to join their programs? 


The way I was treated from the very beginning. When I joined Nexion I was 23.  Age and experience didn’t matter to them the way it did to other consortia and hosts that I looked at.  To this day I can honestly say that I am proud to say that I work with Nexion and my friends and fellow colleagues feel the same way.


The other main aspect is the marketing and technology.  I can access just about everything I need for work every day with excellent tools provided by Nexion.


What advice would you offer to someone looking to join the Travel Industry? 


I would sit down with them and discuss why they want to join.  You have to be a businessperson first and foremost.  We do get to travel, but enjoying travel does not always translate to being a good travel agent and consumer advocate.  You have to love the time behind a computer screen as well or you will burn out.  The perks can be amazing, but you have to get into the business because you want to run a business.


What advice would you offer to someone looking to work with a Host Agency? 


Do your homework, but try them out.  Try to match up with a host that shares your values and specializes in the business you want to grow.  Nexion has a really amazing combo of services for Corporate as well as Leisure.  Since I have both corporate and leisure departments this was the best of both world.  Speak with agents as well as the host’s staff.  Many hosts are owned by other companies and it is important to know who you are really working for.   Finally, when working for a host you are an independent contractor.  If they don’t do right by you and aren’t able to give you want you need, leave.


Many articles and studies have shown that the Travel Professional is becoming more and more important, how do you feel about that? Do you see the increase in awareness from your clients as of now? 


I feel this every day.  When I was an ASTA chapter president almost 10 years ago I had the opposite feeling.  Attendance at ASTA events was way down and almost every day I heard the dreaded “do travel agents even exist?” Businesses were merging or shutting down and people were afraid of the internet.  Over the last year or two I really haven’t heard this much.  I have to spend a lot less time convincing clients that they get value from using my services.  I would absolutely say that it feels like we are entering a renaissance.


Please share a couple of things have been the most important to your success so far? 


I feel that the most important secrets to my modest success are being authentic and trying to always treat people well.  I really do love what I do, love what I sell and most importantly love it when my clients are satisfied.  Things don’t always go right, but I have seen so many times that if I keep a positive, upbeat attitude, my clients have a better experience and respect me more than if I lose my cool.  I get more from supplier relationships when I go out of my way to treat them as people who usually didn’t make the rules.  We are all human and if you are really nice, you can usually get what you need quicker than if you are rude.  Be solution oriented, not problem driven.


What are your plans to grow your business in the next year? 


I have hired a staff of 4 this year that will help with growth for 2017.  We are expanding our social media presence and trying to enhance our client experience from inquiry to a gift/follow up on return.  We are launching our multi-gen family groups using the same model I use for my other groups.  So far sales are going really well with these groups.


Do you feel that getting yourself out there and traveling is important for your business? If so, how do you make yourself get out there and take those trips?


I think it is essential.  Experiential learning is a buzzword that is very popular in the education world.  What I sell is an experience and what better way to sell it to a client than explaining your own personal experience.  I am currently sailing aboard the Holland America on the Westerdam as I am typing this up.  I have been on nearly 100 cruises, but I learn something new every time I have a new experience.  It has been over 10 years since I have cruised on Holland and things are different.  I have heard that at conferences but I didn’t get it until I took the cruise.  I am LOVING the experience here with my wife and daughter and when I get back I won’t hesitate to book other families.


I make myself travel when I believe the experience is a worthwhile investment in my business.  I don’t see clients every day, so it is not a huge deal for me to be on the road.  I also have gone out of my way to make sure that my staff can cover me, but that is a new experience.  In the last 12 years I have been on over 80 cruises, visited over 70 countries and I am a MUCH better advocate for my clients because I have taken the time to make the investment.  I created my own credibility which in turn allows