For 15 years, Lisa Bourget, former director of AIG Travel, nurtured a persistent desire to undertake. Then, in the midst of a global pandemic, Bourget took the plunge, launching Quiet Meadow Travel in June 2021 from his home in Blair, WI.
“Some would say last summer was a crazy time to start, but that was everything I had going on,” Bourget said. Travel market report. That all included a husband who was about to retire, the completion of their newly built “forever home” and a desire for more flexibility.
When Bourget launched Quiet Meadow Travel, she brought with her a supplier familiarity with retail travel, strong transferable skills, a passion for travel and a healthy dose of humility. “I know a lot of small businesses don’t succeed. I have an appreciation and respect for the tough side.
Some of the tools Bourget says will help him succeed include “persistence with a capital P”, diligence with finances, a willingness to learn, and strong relationship and customer service skills. .
Bourget has been working in the travel industry since 2004, starting out in the hotel industry. In 2008, she left her position as Hotel General Manager to join AIG Travel, where she rose through the ranks to Regional Vice President of Field Sales for AIG Travel – Travel Guard, a position she occupied from 2017 to 2020.
In her role as Vice President, Bourget represented the insurance provider at major retail travel conferences and worked with partner travel agencies throughout the East Coast. This experience fueled his entrepreneurial dream. “The urge to have my own business grew stronger when I was there visiting partner agencies,” she said.
It takes grain
One asset she knew would serve her well was her customer service skills.
“I have a passion and a skill set to consistently deliver top-notch customer service – not just a passion, but a respect for the courage you need to have to deliver that every day, to dig in and do what It’s kind of ingrained in me, being in the hospitality industry, working with call centers, and then partner agencies.
His years of working with travel consultants also taught Bourget another essential lesson – the need for flexibility and resilience. “You have to accept change – whether it’s a different direction in the industry, different marketing tools, social media, lower commissions.
“I don’t say this lightly: you have to be able to pivot quickly – first it’s Ebola, then something else, the economy, Covid. Now we have Russia-Ukraine.
Lots to learn
Despite all his industry experience and familiarity with retail travel, Bourget expected a steep learning curve. “You don’t know what you don’t know. I had worked with many partner agencies, but I didn’t know everything behind the scenes.
Even with that foresight, she wasn’t fully prepared for all there was to learn, especially when it came to product knowledge. There are, she discovered, a large number of suppliers, which makes learning about a product very time-consuming. “Some products and some suppliers are very complex.”
One aspect of the supply side that Bourget knows well is the complexity of overlapping supplier relationships. “It’s such a web,” said Bourget, who is affiliated with Travel Planners International. “There are thousands of agents within TPI. TPI is part of a consortium, and TPI has hundreds and hundreds of suppliers, and these suppliers are part of different consortia.
“Understanding this web and all the different relationships within this web has helped me be a bit ahead of the game. Just because I ask Person X that doesn’t mean they can deliver. It takes think about all that.
help each other
As a new travel counselor, Bourget has found the support of travel counselors inside and outside of her host agency to be a big help. “I have this network of professional travel advisors – I can ping them and say, ‘Tell me about Iceland. “”
The willingness of travel advisors to share their knowledge is one of the things Bourget loves about the industry. “There are these little nuances that you’re not going to find on the internet that you get from your co-workers — that nugget that someone shares that you put into the product that you’re selling, and that knocks it out of the park.”
‘Now I understand’
When she was a supplier, Bourget often heard travel consultants talk about their difficulties. “I knew they spent a lot of time researching. I knew it was difficult to have an effective business model. Do I have to charge service fees? Am I doing it now? Fewer commission structures.
“You have to take care of your customers and sell what works for them. But there is also the commercial side. They might request a supplier that is not preferred.
“These are challenges that we would hear a lot about. But now I understand. Now that I’m on the other side of the business, I really get it.