Here’s what they had to say:
Elizabeth Gordon, 29
New York, NY
Born in Kenya, Gordon grew up visiting what she calls “exceptional properties” with her parents, former owners of Park East Tours. After graduating from Stanford University, she worked for Wilderness Safaris in Namibia. “I launched a successful vacation rental management and booking agency in Buenos Aires called International Nest,” she says. “But my real passion is Africa. Few people at my age have had the opportunity to travel to Africa as I have, with over 20 trips to the continent.” With her mother Marcia, Gordon created Extraordinary Journeys. “My main clientele is honeymooners, and I want them to remember this trip for the rest of their lives,” she says. As an ideal way to experience the continent, she recommends a 22-day honeymoon gorilla-tracking safari, a walking safari, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, wine tasting in South Africa and diving in Mozambique. “Being a travel agent combines my passion for travel [and] people, and my problem-solving skills, finding the right places for the right people.”
Her mother notes that Elizabeth has learned the business remarkably quickly. “She has mastered every element of the business and is a creative and innovative leader, using technology to better serve our clients and make our work more efficient,” Marcia Gordon says.
Of course, keeping a luxury-focused business afloat during a recession takes some creativity. “I have put together new products using all the specials on the market, lowering prices by 30 percent while offering the same quality,” Gordon says. Other innovations include increasing the company’s online presence, building a new blog, a Facebook community and a honeymoon registry. “We have increased our online marketing with an SEO campaign and are creating an iPad and iPhone application…I am seeking new partnerships with women’s groups, groups of friends and online agents. We are also constantly reaching out to past clients, our best source of referrals.”