PHOTO: Travel agent Nina Fogelman only sells what she knows well, and what she knows is Peru. (photo via Flickr/Art DiNo)
Nina Fogelman never imagined that she would ever have an interest in being a travel agent, but 12 years ago she was feeling lost in her career and wanted to re-invent herself.
“Someone asked me, ‘What do you love?’ and that was easy,” she said. “I love Peru. They said to me, ‘so do Peru,’ and that is what I did.”
Fogelman had moved to Peru after accepting a one-year contract as Director of an Alternative Healing Arts Institute located in the Cusco area. She had no idea the South American nation would fill her heart with love, hope and a brand new life. Between living in Peru and traveling back and forth once she moved away, she was always advising friends who were going to visit.
“It was a natural switch,” said Fogelman, the founder and director of Ancient Summit, a travel company that specializes in programs and excursions to Peru. “In 2005, I got on a flight, mapped out my first tour and we are still going strong. Of course, I also got the required licensing.”
Fogelman did not decide to become a travel agent, per se, she decided to offer Peru.
“I am an expert here and can create very special visits,” she said. “Later, it became a natural add-on to offer the Galapagos as well. I don’t believe in selling anything I do not know well, so this is what I do.”
READ MORE: What You Should Know About Peru
Fogelman hopes to get the message out in a very strong way and help travelers understand the benefits of working with a destination expert instead of booking online with no human element—the biggest obstacles facing travel agents today.
“With the growth of online sales, we face being eaten up by the giant corporations,” she said. “Much like the Mom and Pop stores being taken down by the giant chain stores. There are still many travelers out there who do not understand the benefits of working with a true specialist.”
Being a true specialist is exactly what she advises others who want to become travel agents. “Specialize and know your products well,” she said. “Take the time to create personal relationships with your clients, which will increase their confidence in you.”
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“We hear about so many wonderful experiences all the time,” she said. “I guess I could say [my favorite] was when I orchestrated a secret kind of wedding ceremony at Machu Picchu, which I was also able to attend.”
During her time in Peru, she lived in the Sacred Valley and became so much a part of the culture that she “love adopted” four children. On her website she writes, “Over the past 30 years, Peru has become more than just a location on a map to me; it has become my home, my life, my heart and my soul.”