Travel Consultant Tuesday: Ivy Smith
This week, a Liberty Travel legend lets us in on some of her experiences as a travel consultant of almost forty years.
What prompted you to become a travel consultant?
My dad, Larry, worked as a travel consultant with Liberty Travel for forty years, so back when I graduated from Oswego in May 1980, I saw that I had two options; I was either going to become a travel agent like my dad or go back to school to be a psychologist (which ironically requires similar skills as being a travel consultant). Ultimately, I thought it would be fun to follow in my dad’s footsteps. The idea of traveling along the way was also exciting! So, I started with Liberty Travel on October 1st, 1980 and I've been here ever since. It’s been over 38 years and I’m still in the same location, right here in Little Falls.
Watch our full interview with Ivy here:
How did growing up with a father working in the travel industry impact your view of the world?
We did a lot of cruises and domestic travel when I was a kid. But what rubbed off on me more than my dad’s love of travel was his tendency to be a workaholic. I’m just the same way he always was, because it’s more than just a job to me. I truly care about the experience my customers have on their vacations.
You’ve certainly seen a lot of changes in the industry since 1980. How has being a travel consultant changed over the past four decades?
I was so used to writing everything down. We used to handwrite plane tickets! Imagine that. But technology has helped us get better at helping travelers plan their vacations over the years. I’m proud to say that it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve evolved with the times. My coworkers have always been a huge help. We're like one big family here.
Personally, do you prefer a city or beach vacation and why?
I used to really love going to the beach. I’ve visited dozens of all-inclusive resorts, and it’s always nice to eat, drink and relax. But I’ve done a lot more city trips in North America, Europe and Asia recently. I’m starting to enjoy beach and city trips nearly equally.
You’ve traveled to over 20 countries. Do any specific destinations stick out?
Well, fortunately working here has allowed me to see a lot of exciting destinations. Actually, a lot of my travels have been with another Liberty Travel consultant, named Brad Holstein, who is based in our Fort Lee location. He’s an amazing person to travel with because he likes the best hotels and acts as my personal tour guide!
We went to South Korea together a few years ago after a business trip to Macao. Seoul felt like a cleaned up version of Manhattan. I swear, you could eat off the floors! And we just had so much fun people-watching. I’ll always cherish the memories we made on that trip.
What types of vacations did you take as a family?
We took our girls to the Caribbean and Mexico often when they were young. We went to family-friendly spots like Turks and Caicos, Ocho Rios and Negril. As a family, you want to know that everything has been taken care of, so all-inclusive resorts are the most relaxing. But we’ve also done destinations throughout Florida – like Marco Island, the Keys and Orlando – plus popular spots like Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Why do vacations count?
I believe vacations count because life and time is so precious. And we need to be with family to appreciate, enjoy, laugh and remember all the good times. It's so funny because thinking about it, I just remember taking my kids to Beaches Turks and Caicos. And wow did they love it there. To this day, I swear I could fill up with tears thinking about how they enjoyed that. It's the time to cherish, appreciate, and be with people you love. It's a necessity. How do you not do it? Life goes by so quickly. And to not be with your family and enjoy each other, it's crazy, it's crazy not to.
So anytime someone wants to come in here and book a trip, especially with their kids, mom, dad, even grandparents, their kids and their grandkids, it's the most wonderful thing you could do. We will do everything to make the customer feel like you are number one, you are being taken care of. It's all going to happen here booking your trip with me.
With so many places visited, where in the world do you specialize in sending customers?
As a travel consultant, I definitely specialize in all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. I have been to many of the Caribbean islands which helps me provide tailored recommendations. Through personal vacations or familiarization trips with Liberty Travel, I’ve personally “been there, done that” and can share my first-hand experiences to create the best possible trip for my customers.
Tell us more about the relationship you have with your customers.
I’m successful because I’ve always been honest in my recommendations. Whether you’re the next person to walk up to my desk or a repeat customer of thirty plus years, I’m going to tell you how it really is when providing guidance. I’m very dedicated because I want travelers to be happy. That's it. I always want to make clients feel at home when we work together on their trip. I will not go home until every question is answered and they are happy. It’s getting close, but one day, I’ll be going to their homes and packing their suitcases for them to get ready to leave! That’s how dedicated I can be.
Where can travelers contact you to plan their next vacation?
I'm always on email, so send me a message at SmithI@libertytravel.com. Or, if you're in northern New Jersey, stop by our location in Little Falls. I hope to meet you soon!