Meetta Simpson has been in the travel industry for 25 years. She started working at the Travel Center of Lexington when she got out of school because the owner was a friend of the family. Her first role involved printing airline tickets and hand delivering them to corporate clients. In her downtime around the office, she began training herself by listening to agents … and eventually, she got the opportunity to start selling travel on her own!
Simpson is now in the 10th year of owning the agency. I caught up with her recently to learn more about her story.
Location: Lexington, NC
Agency Type: Storefront, full-service travel agency
Recent Travel Destination: Rhine River cruise from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam
Bucket List Travel Destination(s): Italy – Florence, Venice, and Rome
Years Using ARC MarketPlace: 8 years
Do you specialize in any areas of the world or specific types of travel?
Our biggest markets are honeymoons, family vacations, and Caribbean trips. We also sell a lot of trips to Europe, where we book independent or escorted tours. Recently, river cruises have also become really popular.
What is your greatest challenge as a travel advisor?
It has to be the competition with the internet. People go on the internet and tend to believe what they read. We have to educate clients that our agents know what we are talking about because we have either been to the destination or planned a trip there before. There is also the pricing competition: We still have to price match sometimes, but mostly we know the wholesalers to go to for the best prices.
Is there a trend you’ve seen in the market that you think will impact future travel?
Our agency does not plan a lot of international travel to the seven countries with the travel ban, but I could see that having an impact on other agencies. Also, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico is top of mind, as tourism to Mexico is really big for the travel industry. We have seen a lot of changes in our years, including going through September 11th and the crash of the economy, so we consider ourselves lucky to still have our doors open.
What is your favorite thing about ARC MarketPlace?
ARC MarketPlace is an easy way to book tours and make commission. I use the website to book tours in cities clients are visiting, as well as for planning packages and ground transportation. I love how easy the website is to navigate through while seeing prices and availability for the product options. If a certain tour is not offered on ARC MarketPlace, it’s probably not available anywhere. Plus, I know my clients are going to be taken care of when they take these tours.
Are there any go-to products that are popular for your clients?
It depends on where clients are going, but for Caribbean destinations, I tend to book snorkeling excursions, sunset cruises or glass bottom boat cruises. For Europe, clients want to visit museums and tour the city to familiarize themselves, so the rest of the time on their trip they can get around on their own.
Have you ever been on an ARC MarketPlace tour, and how was it?
Yes! I booked a fishing excursion through ARC MarketPlace for a vacation that my family took to Riviera Maya in Mexico. It was a half-day fishing charter. On the outing, we ended up catching a barracuda! That was the one part of the trip my family still talks about.
How does ARC MarketPlace make your job easier?
ARC MarketPlace is really one-stop shopping. The variety of options seems to keep growing, especially tours, city packages and ground transportation. I can find everything in one place, and that makes my job so much easier.
Do you have any advice for new travel agents?
The most important thing is definitely networking to get your name out there. Don’t just sit behind your desk—go out and let people know who you are. It looks like a glamorous career, but it can be really stressful at times. In the beginning, you are not going to make a lot of money, but you will learn a lot—and you will get the opportunity to travel and try out many new destinations.