At Balboa Travel – And In San Diego As A Whole – Leisure Agents Are In ‘Full Growth Mode’

by Cheryl Rosen
At Balboa Travel – And In San Diego As A Whole – Leisure Agents Are In ‘Full Growth Mode’


In another sign of the resurgence of leisure travel agents, San Diego-based Balboa Travel has promoted Mark Simões to the newly established position of vice president of leisure services, and charged him with adding a leisure travel element to its new office in San Francisco.

The San Diego-based agency, long owned by the da Rosa family (though more recently also by shareholders) is known for its specialty in corporate travel, where it ranks among the top 1%. It also has a large meetings and incentives division; leisure travel, its smallest division, started out servicing the vacation needs of its corporate clients.

But its new office, soon to open in San Francisco, will include a larger leisure presence—and indeed, leisure is “in full growth mode,” Simões said. On his plate are bridal shows, target mailings and even acquisitions designed to reach out to new leisure customers. “It’s an all-encompassing approach to growth. We are using every resource we have available to grow our footprint,” he said.

The hard part, of course, is finding great staff—so Balboa will be looking to expand its independent contractor program as well as hire in-house agents. Simões has put the word out through the local chamber of commerce and is using “word-of-mouth networking, which works best” in finding trained as well as not-so-trained staff.

“I’m looking for people who have a passion to get into the travel business and have sales experience, and we will mentor and train them,” Simões said. That approach worked quite well with one current employee, whom Balboa hired as an intern from a local community college.

“I made it a priority to learn the business; I learned Sabre on my own in my down time, kept practicing and learning, and eventually had enough skills to get into an agent support role doing administrative things.”

“It’s definitely time-consuming” to grow staff that way, he acknowledged, but in the current job market, “it’s something we have to do.”

(Interested in the job? Email jobs5414@balboa.com.)

And of course Simões has a soft spot for travel agents who come up through the ranks slowly. He himself started in the business as a courier, carrying paper tickets to customers long before the word “eticket” entered the travel lexicon.

“I made it a priority to learn the business; I learned Sabre on my own in my down time, kept practicing and learning, and eventually had enough skills to get into an agent support role doing administrative things.” He went into the leisure side of the business about 15 years ago – “and that’s when I really fell in love with this business and things began to take off.”

Last month Simões was voted Best Travel Advisor in San Diego by the readers of San Diego Magazine – the first time the magazine has included the category in its Reader’s Choice awards.

His advice to the readers of TMR? “It’s too easy to get complacent. Take the time to travel as much as possible, to experience things and to understand the nuances, so you never start losing that passion. For me, with so much on my plate, it’s important to recharge and stay fresh and keep that passion for what I am doing alive, to know the nuances of travel today, to stay up to date.”

  5
  0
Tip of the Day

As travel advisors, we have to be curious. Curiosity leads to impactful connections that pave our road to success.

Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing, Travel Planners International

 

Daily Top List

Exciting Luxury Hotel Openings

1. Costa Blu Beach Resort (Belize)

2. The Standard London (London)

3. Lefay Resort and SPA Dolomiti (Italy)

4. Kachi Lodge (Bolivia)

5. The Hoxton (Chicago)

Source: TMR

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=7c7310a7-0591-e911-be17-782bcb66a2f2)

5 Reasons to Travel in Winter - and Where to Go

Travel advisors in-the-know offer their clients distinctive travel adventures at lower price points and with more personalized service during the winter months and off-peak season.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Using Social Media to Promote Your Travel Business
Using Social Media to Promote Your Travel Business

Marketing expert discusses best practices for travel advisors to implement and pitfalls to avoid when promoting their agencies online.

Expedia Agrees to Settlement After Violating New Cuba Travel Regulations
Expedia Agrees to Settlement After Violating New Cuba Travel Regulations

The U.S. government says Expedia and two other travel companies have violated the sanctions against Cuba and must pay large fees.

Why Travel Advisors Should Use Video to Grow Their Business
Why Travel Advisors Should Use Video to Grow Their Business

Sandra and Anthony McLemore share useful tips and tricks for incorporating video to attract clients.

Travel Agents Help Defeat Texas Tax Bill
Travel Agents Help Defeat Texas Tax Bill

Latest “whack-a-mole” travel agent tax is defeated, as ASTA and the travel industry gain momentum in minimizing new levies on advisors.

6 Ways to Promote Your Agency with Social and Other Highlights from TMP East
6 Ways to Promote Your Agency with Social and Other Highlights from TMP East

Industry experts also gave practical tips about how to sell to the Millennial market and how to upsell luxury travel product.

A Guide to Marketing for Travel Advisors
A Guide to Marketing for Travel Advisors

Maggie Fischer is on a mission to help travel agents see marketing as less like an expense, and more like a planned and measurable investment that puts income on their balance sheet.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks