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Travel Advisors

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Brenda Staben

Leisure Travel Advisor

I was hired by Hobson Travel at 5:00PM on September 10, 2001.  The next morning I wasn’t sure I still had a job but managed to book a few personal clients over the next few months until the travel industry started to get back on its feet after the tragedy of September 11th

I’ve been to Europe many times, experiencing Ireland 3 times (North and South) and France and Italy many times as well.  I specialize in Italy and France with a lot of favorite hotels and activities that I like to recommend personally.  I have escorted a Victory Garden theatre group to London years ago setting up theatre evenings, dinners & even a bridge tournament on New Year’s day. 

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I have been to Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland,  Ireland, London and countryside, Japan, Malta, Jamaica (5 times), Mexico (Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco), Hawaii.  Many Caribbean cruises as well as European cruises.

I love to book family oriented as well as couples and honeymooners packages to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.                  

Question 1.  How I became a travel agent

In my early 20’s, I worked for a small airline in Hilton Head Island, SC, worked at a hotel in the reservation department, and became a lead agent for Hertz rental car.  I was also secretary for the PGA golf tournament at the Heritage Golf Classic for 8 years (I believed in staying busy!).   I moved to Atlanta to work for the Atlanta Golf Classic for a year, then went to work for the Atlanta Airport Hilton in the sales department. 

I was hired as a customer service rep for American Express card services in Chicago.  At the same time, they were cross training me for travel.  35 years later I am still in the travel business and still loving it!

Question 2.  What attracted you to become a travel agent

I got the bug to travel when I was in high school and our senior girl scout troop went to Europe for 21 days visiting 7 countries.  I saved for 3 years for that trip and I still remember it to this day which is why, when planning a trip, I keep in mind how much my clients trips mean to them as well.  I love being a part of making dreams come to life and memories to cherish.

Question 3.  Awards or accolades acquired

During my 8 years with American Express,  I completed my CTC (certified travel consultant), received the employee of the month in Chicago for customer service and came in 2nd in the world for customer service for American Express for actually holding a cruise until the client got her passport from another incoming flight (which I arranged to have a flight attendant hand carry).  

Question 4. What is your favorite aspect of being a travel agent?

Understanding the clients dream and making it a reality.

Question 5.  Is there one piece of advice you wish your clients knew before coming to you?

If there was one thing that I wish clients realized before coming to me.  I am providing you with my advice and experience, please do not hand me a list of 25 hotels in Paris that your neighbor, aunt, uncle, clerk from Starbucks, or your 4th cousin on your dads side recommended AFTER I have done all of the research and have narrowed it down by location and price. 

Question 6. Have you ever booked a “trip of a lifetime” for a client?

I have had 2 recent clients use the exact words “trip of a lifetime” to describe their trips.  My first client was on his honeymoon on a cruise and then touring Italy with all of my recommendations.  The second clients were 3 adult sisters (all in their 50’s) who traveled in France and Italy – from using my favorite hotel in Paris to setting up a tour to Lourdes, experiencing the fireworks at Versaille to hiking the trails of Cinque Terre from Florence and an all day Chianti wine tour with their own personal guide.  Diane told me that she is not sure this trip could ever be topped! 

Question 7. Best trip I’ve ever taken personally (and as a fam)

My trip of a lifetime has to be to western Canada starting in Vancouver and experiencing the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff and Lake Louise.  The overwhelming  beauty of my surroundings still stirs beautiful memories.  Another favorite is my recent voyage on Windstar Windsurf – small masted ship from Barcelona to Rome which visited smaller ports that some of the large ships cannot get into.

As a fam trip, we are given many experiences in a new destination that we might not have known about otherwise.  Which makes for great suggestions for clients (which many times ends up as the highlight of their trip).  We are given the opportunity to see many different hotels and understanding the value of their properties. 

I participated in a Japan luxury trip in March 2013.  I just had clients come to me to book an escorted trip that they had already chosen.  It was a Best of Japan staying in Ryokan’s.  (Japanese traditional hotels of sleeping on tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors wear yukata.  Both of these ladies are in their 60’s and quickly declined this type of trip when I explained the bedding.  I have booked them on a different tour with 1 night at a Ryokan to give them a little taste of Japanese culture which they are happy to experience but for 1 night only.   

Deb Trevino

Leisure Travel Advisor

I started Sep 11 2001 at Hobson, will never forget that start date and I am still here. J

Location Specializations—Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, US West, Canada, Alaska, US National Parks, Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii

Travel type specializations—Adventure, customized trips

Education, Experience, Accreditations—COD Associates degree, agent/advisor since 1993, CTA, Premier Aussie Specialist, New Zealand specialist

Brag a little—Travel and Leisure magazine A List agent since 2008, One of USA top 25 travel Agents, Opal Award for excellence in promoting travel to Australia

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What would you look for in specific agent- I would look for someone who has been there and personally knows the suppliers to the destination and in the destination and has a relationship with them, so they can be up on the latest and greatest.  Also a detail oriented person, but also has fun in planning the trip and keeps it a vacation experience.

One my best trips I have ever taken---Cannot name just one, many different ones for many different reasons, Australia with out of this world scenery, animals, friendly people and fabulous lodges that make you say OMG!  New Zealand with the spectacular scenery and wines and more drop dead gorgeous lodges, or the United States West with national parks road trip for 4 weeks….hmmm, more but cannot pick just one and why should I?  The world is full of fantastic experiences and places.

Have you booked a trip of a lifetime for a client?  Yes, but it was so good, they cannot wait to go again.  I just did an African Safari for clients who were taking it for 25th anniversary and it was to be the trip of a lifetime, but once they went and came back, he actually said  “that was the trip of a lifetime but we are going to do it again!”  The same with Australia and New Zealand, what will start out to be the only time and trip of a lifetime turns into their first trip and not only trip of a lifetime.

Diane Sherman

Leisure Travel Advisor

I started at Hobson Travel in 1999.

My location specializations are Costa Rica, the United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Jamaica

My travel specializations are Honeymoons, Family Vacations, Ocean and River Cruising, Beach and Sun, Escorted Tours.

My Education is a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Western Illinois University and
an Associate’s Degree in Travel and Tourism from College of DuPage.

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Countries I have visited: Costa Rica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Jamaica,  Barbados, Bahamas, Ireland, England, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Canada

Why I became a travel agent  --- I had an opportunity to travel on many incentive trips I earned while in a sales position with a company I worked for 11 years.  All the trips really increased my love of travel. The woman whose position was to organize all the company’s incentive travel awards constantly said she had the best job.  She loved being able to travel the world and work on putting together the best, fun-filled incentive trips for us. I wanted her job.

My favorite aspect of being a travel agent is that I love helping couples and families plan a vacation that will give them wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.  I feel people work hard and deserve the opportunity to enjoy a stress-free fun vacation that they will always remember such as a special family trip or romantic honeymoon. I want them to have memories of beautiful destinations and great experiences to share with family and friends.

What I like best about Hobson travel is that I truly enjoy working with an outstanding, talented team of experienced travel advisors.  Everyone works together to assist each other as a team by sharing wonderful ideas and suggestions to help plan a client’s vacation or help solve a problem.

Booking a trip of a lifetime – I once booked a trip for an older couple in a Presidential Suite on a Holland America cruise for a special anniversary.  A couple of months after the cruise, the wife contacted me to thank me for suggesting the cruise and planning their anniversary trip.  A few weeks after returning from their vacation- sadly her husband had passed away suddenly. She will always remember the wonderful time they spent together on that cruise and how much her husband enjoyed all the beautiful ports of call.

Linda Fezekas

Leisure Travel Advisor

What year did you begin at Hobson, location specializations and travel type specializations:

I grew up in a family that loves to travel.  My earliest memories are those of our family beach vacations.  After my brother and I had families of our own, my favorite memories, became our annual  family trips with “Poppi and Grandma” and their 7 adventurous grandchildren.       

Since travel is in my DNA, I decided the perfect job for me was a job in the Travel Industry.  I became a travel agent in 1996 and joined Hobson Travel in 2004.  I have traveled though out most of the United States, Europe and to several countries in Southeast Asia and I specialize in Europe travel and luxury cruising.  I am interested in anything have to do with travel but I especially enjoy planning customized travel for family gatherings, celebrations, adventure travel and beach vacations.          

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What is your favorite aspect of being a travel agent?

What I love most about my job is hearing from my clients that their trip was incredible.   A lot of thought and planning go into making an experience special and worry free.  It is very rewarding when I hear that suggestions I gave them, special places to explore that aren’t well known by travelers, “made” the trip.       

Describe what you like about Hobson Travel 

If I have any question about any itinerary I am researching, I am confident that my fellow advisors can help me find an answer if I’m “stumped”.  I have never worked with a more professional, knowledgeable group of people.  Hobson is like family to me, both professionally and personally and  I can’t imagine working anywhere else.   

Describe one of the best trips you have taken personally.

My favorite trip to date was a 2 week trip to Turkey with my daughter.  Istanbul is an amazing history lover’s paradise and the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia are spectacular!  But for me, the best part of the trip was my 6 night stay in various villages along the stunning Turquoise Coast. All of Turkey is an open air museum, the people are friendly and the food is fantastic. I would go back in a heartbeat.  

Define your ideal client.

My ideal clients know where they want to go and give me ideas about what they have enjoyed and have not enjoyed on past trips.  They are open to suggestions I make and want to really experience the destination. They are interested in “must sees” but also want to enjoy some off the beaten path places of interest.