When Byron Garvey retired after a 30-year career in computer sales, he knew he wanted to combine his passion for travel and use his sales skills in a second career.
He and his wife had taken their four children on dozens of trips over the years, visiting all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. With the kids grown, he was ready to devote himself full time to travel, both professionally and personally.
Garvey opened Castle Hills Travel out of his home in Dallas, joined the Nexion host agency and started his first marketing push by targeting Castle Hills, a nearby upscale subdivision of 2,600 houses.
The neighborhood has its own internal mail service and, for a cost of about $500 per mailing, Garvey found he could reach each home with a color, oversize postcard promoting his travel agency, including a prominent photo of a cruise, Europe tour or another travel product.
“I made it a point to say that my services are free, because I believe it's more important right now to build a client base than to charge a service fee, which I'll think about down the line,” he said. The return on investment soon became obvious. “It was the kind of postcard that people put on their refrigerators and eventually used to call me.”
Now completing his first year in the business, Garvey said his bookings are exceeding expectations. With business from the subdivision and word-of-mouth advertising from family and friends, he's been able to turn Castle Hills Travel into full-time work.
He credits much of his success to his host agency. Garvey lives a few miles from Nexion's Irving, Texas, headquarters and has taken advantage of its wide range of training, including one-on-one mentoring with an experienced agent, an intensive Boot Camp program, ongoing webinars and Nexion's annual conference for home-based agents.
The training that had the most impact was Agent Essentials, a five-day course at Nexion headquarters in which only seven home-based agents participated, meeting privately and in groups with Nexion managers in charge of cruise, car rentals, hotels, air, tours and other industry segments for in-depth learning
“Because there were only seven of us, the training was very concentrated, and it was easy to banter back and forth and for the Nexion staff to walk us through the booking tools and other training individually and as a group. It was all very specific.”
As Garvey enters his second year of business, he's pondering where to take Castle Hills Travel next.
“People say that you should have a niche, and I haven't done that. I've done honeymoons, Europe, hotel-only bookings, domestic, individual and group travel. It's been great. I'm hoping a niche will develop naturally where I can sharpen my skills in one particular area of travel and develop a specialty that I enjoy myself. Right now, I'm just concentrating on getting better at what I'm doing.”