PHOTO: Denise Lorentzen, TravelPulse Agent of the Month for April. (photo courtesy of Denise Lorentzen)
Denise Lorentzen grew up in a family that enjoyed traveling together. They enjoyed learning about the destinations they visited as well as learning new things about each other. It was during these trips that she found her love of travel and realized how important it was to disconnect from the day-to-day and focus on each other.
As she grew up, she continued to travel with friends, then with her husband and now as a family. It was these adventures that lead her down this path to become a travel consultant. “I knew how much it meant to me to bond with the people I cared about most,” said Lorentzen of Dreams Travel Consulting. “So I set out to get my education in travel/hospitality. I consider myself a family travel specialist because I can identify with the many faces of the family unit.”
She loves working with her clients. “I have helped a couple start their marriage, sent a family with kids to Walt Disney World, helped parents get away for a little alone time, and sent the empty nesters on a cruise,” she said. “I love working with clients that are all in different stages of the life cycle. It's amazing how fulfilling setting up an adventure can be.”
We had a chance to ask Lorentzen some questions on her career as a travel agent:
So, how did you get started?
I always loved packing up the suitcase and the car and hitting the road.
Growing up, we did more road trips than flying, but it was still so exciting. In 2005, I was working in the medical billing industry and didn't love it, but it paid the bills. I would sit and dream of becoming a travel consultant since I loved to travel and I was a planner.
One day, I mentioned it in front of my family and they told me to go for it. I thought, why not! I signed up for online classes through Career Quest and began planning my home base office. I have never regretted making that change. I worked both my billing job and my new business at the same time until somewhere around 2008 I gave up the billing job and put 100 percent into my business. It's been the best move ever. Even when the market was crashing, I was still able to build my business.
What are your specialties and why did you decide on those?
I started as a Family Travel Specialist. At the time, my children were preschool age and I could identify to that niche. As time progressed I don't just work with families with young children, I work with couples getting away on a romantic journey, empty multi-gen family vacations, and more. Family to me is not just a mom, dad, and children anymore. Family means connection, loving someone. So, I am a family travel and romance travel specialist. I help people connect and deepen the bonds with each other.
What do you think the biggest obstacles are facing travel agents today?
I think there are still a lot of people out there that just don't understand what we do or that we even still exist. Travel agents are making a strong comeback and the internet cannot do what we can do—care. We are your biggest advocate. We work hard for our clients. Many just think it's easy to book on their own, but why would you trust your hard earned money to luck on the internet?
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What advice would you give other people who want to be travel agents like you?
I would say you need to be determined and patient. You also need to have thick skin because you will get more no's then yesses when first building your business. Just like any sales job. This is not a career choice that you will get rich quick. It takes time to build your client base and you don't get paid from vendors until after clients’ travel, so you won't make a whole lot right away. Many agents charge a planning fee, this helps to offset the time spent on the front end.
What's your favorite story about one of your clients?
Several years ago, I had actually three families all booked on a Carnival cruise that was canceled one week before sailing. They were devastated and we went into high gear to find them an alternate vacation. I was able to secure three cabins with Disney Cruise line that got them booked, canceled with Carnival and set them up with documents, etc. It literally took me eight hours, but it was so satisfying to hear them say "OMG, thank you so much, I can't believe you saved our vacation."
What's your favorite place to travel to personally?
This is hard for me. I do a lot of Disney, due to being a Family Travel Specialist and Disneyland is near and dear to my heart as it holds some wonderful memories of my family growing up. I can still see my nanna sitting on Main Street USA with her frozen banana! But I also love to experiencing new things, which is why I don’t think I can say just one place is my favorite. I do love being at the ocean, so anywhere near the ocean is a happy place!