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Travel Professional Success Stories – Holly Reynolds Lee


Travel Professional Name: Holly Reynolds Lee

Location: Owings, MD

Host Agency Name: Dugan’s Travels

Years as a Travel Professional: 11



What led you to be a Travel Professional? 


I think of myself as an “accidental” travel agent. When I studied abroad in college, I was the de facto travel planner for our small group of friends as we spent weekends experiencing Edinburgh, Paris, Dublin and more. A few years later, one of those friends became an author and was on a book tour, planned by a travel agent who wasn’t meeting his needs. He called me and asked for help planning travel for the rest of the tour. I told him, “I’m not a travel agent.” And he said, “But you COULD be.” I agreed to take on his travel planning – and the rest is history. More than a decade later, travel is my full-time job!


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


I realized that not every person loves travel planning, or has the time and skill-set to do it well. As word got out about my travel services, people starting calling me. I realized that there was still a need in the world for travel professionals – and that it was possible to generate a full-time income.


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


When I began working in the travel field, I didn’t even know what a host agency was! As I researched the options, it became clear that a good host agency was the most cost effective way to get into the business. Signing on with a host agency allowed me to tap into the collective power of the organization to earn higher commissions, gain access to suppliers, and learn about training opportunities. Working with a host agency really opened the door for me to the world of professional travel planning.


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


Dugan’s Travels is an incredible host agency. The three things that are most useful and helpful:


Annual training events and face time with our suppliers. Getting to know our suppliers first-hand is a HUGE benefit, and gives me tools to connect with them when I need support.


Our agent Facebook page. When you have a question, a fellow agent almost certainly has the answer. The collective wisdom of our group is a powerful force!


The professionalism, personal attention, and integrity of our management team. Agency Staff treat their agents exceptionally well. That high level of customer care trickles down from staff to agents to clients.


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


Be ready to make a long-term commitment. It takes time to build a client base, to learn about different destinations and suppliers, and to establish a solid business.


Be ready for non-traditional work hours. You’re going to get a client call during a family dinner. You’re going to be on hold with an airline for hours. You’re going to have a travel crisis in the middle of the night. This is the nature of the travel industry. If you go into this field thinking you’re going to work from 9-5 every day – you’re wrong.


Know that you can make a difference in people’s lives in ways that you never dreamed. You will give people memories that they cherish forever. You will help families reconnect with one another. You will help friends celebrate life’s big and small victories. At the end of the day, you are in the business of helping to orchestrate some of life’s most special moments, so do it well.


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 see that clients value their time – both the time they have to travel and the time it takes to research and plan a trip. Using my services gives clients back precious time and alleviates much of the worry about destination, pricing, and logistics.


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


Operate with integrity. Treat clients the way that you would want to be treated.


Be professional at all times. I often think that travel agents must have nerves of steel and a healthy dose of faith. There are times when this job is nerve-wracking! In the middle of the toughest client issues, be calm, level-headed and professional, especially if your client is in the middle of a travel crisis. Freaking out rarely solves anything and will only add to your client’s anxiety.


Own your mistakes. When you make an error, it’s your responsibility to fix it – even if there is a financial cost to do so. Apologize to your client and get it corrected as smoothly and quickly as possible.


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


Looking forward, I want to reconnect with past clients and increase my social marketing presence. Staying in touch with people is hard to do – but so important!


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 experiencing destinations first-hand is invaluable. As a Mom of two preschoolers, I bring them along as much as possible so that I’m able to encourage families that “Yes! You can travel with kids!” We’re happy to be on-the-go as much as time and resources will allow.