Most people know WHAT I do. It is written plainly on my website, and that is normally what people ask me when they are considering working with me. I plan and book vacations, offer advice and ideas, build relationships with suppliers, obtain benefits and upgrades for my clients based on these relationships, and troubleshoot when clients have problems, etc..
But, do you know WHY I do what I do?
WHY I decided to start a travel business and work so closely helping my clients plan how to spend their most precious resource- their leisure time? WHY I decided to leave behind a safe career in business to follow my dreams? The WHY behind business is often what really differentiates one from another.
I was recently so inspired by a book called Start With Why by Simon Sinek. The premise is that great leaders inspire others based on their passion behind what they do (the “why”) and not just WHAT they do. The best line in the whole book is:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Not just “buy” in the literal sense of paying cash for a good or service, but in the informal sense “to accept the truth or feasibility of… to believe in.”
So, here is my WHY. In June 2000, the Air France plane I was on landed in Paris, and my life changed forever. It was my first trip to Europe and I will NEVER forget the feeling of touching down in France, knowing that I was thousands of miles away from home and was about to embark on an incredible journey. I literally let out a little scream when the wheels screeched on the runway (my friend Bryan who I was with can verify this!) After my junior year in college, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain for six weeks one summer (and landing in Paris was the beginning of this journey). I cannot remember all that I learned in the classroom at the ESADE business school, but I can remember almost every detail of what I saw in Barcelona (Gaudi! Las Ramblas! Montjuic!) and more importantly, how I FELT being there. So many moments of realization leading me to feel very small, in a very big world. I continued on to backpack with my friends, and the places I had only read about in history books or seen on TV sprung to life! The Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Barcelona Olympic Park from the 1992 Games.. I returned home with two feelings. One, I was a citizen of the world, and not simply of Austin, Texas, and two- I HAD TO GO BACK! If travel was a drug, I felt hopelessly, and happily, addicted.
And return I did.. the next summer I went backpacking in Europe again, with my now-husband and our friends, using every penny I had saved from an accounting internship. Again, history came to life at the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace.. even the “Abbey Road” that the Beatles famously crossed in the album cover (yes, we recreated it, and yes, we almost got run over about 10 times). We covered London to Paris, Barcelona to Rome, and many smaller towns in between. Travel to me became very much about self-discovery, learning my own place in the world, and spending priceless time bonding with loved ones. That trip included my second visits to both Paris and Barcelona (though I don’t think I screamed when the plane landed that time.)
My THIRD visit to Paris was just two years after the second trip and included a marriage proposal! My husband and I were both completely hooked on travel, what we had learned, and the way that exploring the world together made us feel. From that point on, we took every chance we could get to explore the world. I also worked at a large airline for four years and traveled frequently during that time.. weekend in Buenos Aires? Why not!
Travel was, and is, addicting! All during my adult life, I have firmly believed in allocating more resources to experiences over “things.” As a travel colleague once said to me, her son can’t remember what he got for Christmas each year, but he can recall in detail every trip his family has taken. (Of course, I have very fond memories of traveling with my family, too!) And isn’t this so true?? To me, memories made traveling with family will always trump “stuff” that you can buy in stores.
So over time, friends and family have really understood my passion for travel, and have asked me for advice about their own trips, which is so flattering! I recently found a list I made 5 years ago with goals on it, and the number one at the top was to be a successful travel advisor, helping clients experience the world. Well, no one can say I am not goal-oriented! I have long been drawn to travel articles, maps, reviews.. anything travel-related that I could get my hands on and read or experience in my spare time, I was all over it. While you watch TV at night, I peruse my favorite travel magazines for new ideas and tweet with like-minded people in the travel community. I eat, sleep and breathe travel, as I have for years before I decided to make a profession of it.
My company, Haute Holidays, is truly the culmination of my personal passion for travel and my love of building relationships with people, and there is nothing else I would rather do professionally! (And of course, my partnership with Brownell Travel and Virtuoso is just a match made in heaven!) This is not a hobby, side job, or spur-of-the-moment idea. My family and I have made personal sacrifices to help make my dream come true, and for that, I value each and every one of my client relationships and take my job as your travel advisor very seriously. I feel so privileged to be able to do something I love so much, and I would truly be so honored if you would allow me to be a part of your travel plans and help you make wonderful memories with your loved ones. And that is exactly WHY I started a travel business!