A travel agent that specializes in big-buck trips

AT WORK

At Work

April 19, 2006|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Becky McLaughlin-Treakle

Travel consultant/owner

Personalized Travel Consultants, Annapolis

Age --40

Years in business --10

Salary: --$25,000 a year, plus company bonuses that range from $5,000 to $10,000

How she started --Before getting into the travel business, McLaughlin-Treakle managed retail stores, including jewelry shops. She then worked as a travel agent in Des Moines, Iowa. She moved to the Annapolis area four years ago and started Personalized Travel Consultants a year later. The agency operates with seven employees in Annapolis, Des Moines and Omaha, Neb. She says the company combines her love of customer service and travel.

Typical day --She works from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but nights and weekends also are required sometimes. Her day is split between building the business through various networking opportunities and working with clients to plan trips. The company works with about 20 clients per day.

Not the traditional travel agency --McLaughlin-Treakle calls herself a travel consultant and operates the business from home instead of running a traditional storefront agency.

Client fees --Most are paid through the travel vendor - such as a particular cruise line. Sometimes a consulting fee is charged but it varies with each customer.

Embracing technology --While people may be comfortable booking a $200 flight online, they probably will not want to book a $2,000 honeymoon on the Internet. "They want a specialist to be there for them. It's put customer service back in the forefront because you can't get that from an Internet site."

Niche --Destination weddings and honeymoons.

Most popular wedding destinations --Bahamas and Dominican Republic.

Most unusual request --Planning a destination wedding for a couple that had already tied the knot. McLaughlin-Treakle knew they were married, but the guests did not. The couple wanted that to be a surprise.

Her favorite vacation spot --Greek islands.

The good --The ability to bring joy to people. "A vacation is something that they earn and they deserve and we want to make that the best experience that we possibly can."

The bad --Uncontrollable events, such as weather and flight cancellations. She always recommends travel insurance, which can cover such things as delays, lost luggage, trip cancellations and medical expenses.

Philosophy on the job --"Be the best you can be."

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