Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

What better way to be inspired to try something new with your business than to hear success stories from your peers?

That might have been the thought process Ignacio Maza, Signature Travel Network executive vice president, had when he was preparing a presentation for the consortium's recent Owners' Meeting. Maza took some time on stage to highlight Signature members who started doing something differently that has paid off well.

"It's about taking a leap," Maza said. "It's about being confident. It's about taking a risk and doing something outside your comfort zone or doing something you haven't done before. Just that small thing makes all the difference in the world."

Here are some of the members Maza highlighted and what made a difference for their agencies:

John and Diana O'Regan, San Simeon Travel, Cambria, Calif.: The O'Regans have long been focused on Africa. "But then they realized they were not capturing all the business from their clients" who didn't want to go to Africa every year, Maza said. Now, they send clients all over the world, including recent groups to Cuba and Japan. Sales grew by double-digits in 2019. They haven't forgotten their original focus, though. They will lead their 50th group safari next year.

Scott Caddow, Legendary World, Tucson, Ariz.: Caddow recently rebranded Legendary World and focused on marketing and converting sales. He's seen great success thanks to escorted groups. Building an escorted group business "is easier said than done," Maza said, because many times it's outside of our core competency. It's outside of your comfort zone." But the work has paid off for Caddow, who has a group of 13 headed to the Galapagos sailing on Silversea's Silver Origin.

Annette Stellhorn, Accent On Travel, Rehoboth Beach, Del.: Stellhorn has taken advantage of "harnessing the power of custom group travel," Maza said. She arranges targeted groups that tie in with an affinity, like a wine store, a chef or a conductor. At the same time, she's brought in young, "fearless" advisors to help build those groups. Her agency's luxury business is up 35%, "and her groups are booming," Maza said.

Angie Schwartz, Windsor Travel Corp., Houston: Schwartz spends a lot of time volunteering with the Houston Rodeo. That volunteer time has led to networking and cultivating relationships. As a result, referrals are her No. 1 source of business, Maza said. Schwartz has also developed unique pre- and post-cruise programs that can't be shopped or compared. Thanks to her clients spreading the word about her business, Schwartz has been able to cut down on the amount of advertising she does.

Carol Crothers, Sunrise Travel Center, Sea Girt, N.J.: Crothers has seen great success thanks to building a long-term partnership with Tauck. She started working with the supplier 20 years ago. She is a specialist, meets regularly with her Tauck representative and has committed herself to selling the brand. As a result, she's sold 67 Tauck trips this year, and she was named one of Tauck's Top 10 Sellers in April. "If you hitch your star to the right partner and you really invest in that opportunity, you can go really far," Maza said.

Next week, I'll feature the rest of the travel advisors Maza highlighted for trying something different.

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