Ever the traveler, Marie Rosenbaum came to America as an exchange student from Belgium when she was 17. Today, she is building her year-old travel business selling Club Med vacations to European customers in the middle of the night.
It’s unusual, but her little niche is the perfect fit for a new home-based agency run by a mom with a small child and the trace of a foreign accent in her speech, Rosenbaum says.
Rosenbaum is on her second career, having given up a graphic design company to take the leap into the field she loves. “I was getting burned out running the design business and wanted something I could be passionate about, something I could really get excited about in the morning to start my day,” she says.
Even though she had planned trips all her life for family and friends, she knew that making travel her business would be a serious commitment, and that she would need a mentor to get started. It was no surprise when the Expedia CruiseShipCenter she first applied to turned her down. Undaunted, she reapplied, then reapplied again, until finally the owner agreed to see her.
“I said, ‘Listen, when I first came to America, the only job I could get was selling Cutco knives. I was 19, I didn’t know anyone, and I spoke broken English. Everything was against me. But I became one of their top salespeople.’ So, the owner decided to give me a chance.”
Looking to grow her business by buying leads online, Rosenbaum came upon Avoya Travel, and recognized right away that it was the model she had been seeking — offering “that funnel of live leads” she could service in addition to her own clients, in her own business, at her own pace. She left Expedia and launched Oceanview Travels.
Working odd hours because of the baby, Rosenbaum found, gave her a unique leg up in the Avoya network, as she grabbed the leads that came across late at night and on weekends, when most other agents were not online — and many customers were European. She spoke French and Polish; she knew Club Med well from her teenage years, when “all my friends would go there.”
“At first, it wasn’t going well. But I said to myself, ‘This is the clientele I can attract and relate to, just hang in there.’ And eventually, I became successful,” she said. “The time difference worked for me; we talked on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp at all hours. I love the international flare of it; I fit in, I feel at home.”
In 2018, her first full year in business, Rosenbaum was Avoya’s No. 3 salesperson of Club Med vacations; “probably 70% of my business was Club Med,” she said.
With its short booking window and all-inclusive pricing, Club Med is a good product for new agents to focus on, she noted. “Most of my cruise clients plan much farther in advance — it could be two years sometimes [until you get paid commission], where Club Med bookings are generally less than four months out.”
While she does plan to continue to focus on all-inclusive resorts, in the coming months she will expand a little, into Sandals and Beaches. But of course, she is not averse to a good cruise booking when one comes her way.
“I actually sold two world cruises on Princess last month to Avoya leads. I’m proud to say the first one took a lot of work; he had a lot of questions and we did long emails and he did not book right away. But four months later, he contacted me for a 10-day cruise and I booked that, then a month later he booked the world cruise. Then for the cherry on top, his friend called and booked one as well. That was my largest sale ever, $65,000 per cabin, on my books for 2021.”