How I Got My Start in Travel: Eileen Entin

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A love of travel turned into a successful career as a travel agent.

In the 1970s, Eileen Entin took her first cruise with her husband. The couple was having such a good time on the Doric to Bermuda that they started planning their next cruise while still on the ship. Friends and family started coming to her for guidance and advice on what cruise to take and where to go.

READ: What to Expect Your First Year as a Travel Agent

After giving out a lot of advice, she realized that she was already functioning as a travel agent so she might as well start an actual agency. In 1983, she began Diamond Cruise & Travel in East Windsor, New Jersey. Since then, she has sailed on more than 150 cruises and earned travel agent certifications from dozens of cruise lines and other travel companies and organizations. She has also helped hundreds of people enjoy their vacations to the fullest.

READ: Why Travel Agents Love Their Jobs

We decided to ask Entin about her typical day and for some advice for the newbies.

What is your day like? In a typical day, I spend the mornings in the office responding to client calls and emails, and working with cruise lines and tour operators to verify pricing and fine print. I save the paperwork for the end of the day. Since I work with many clients who occasionally require more involved vacation planning, they often appreciate a face-to-face meeting. These are usually in the afternoon.

What kind of skills did you bring to this job? I love to travel, learn every detail about a destination and pay attention to how every detail can affect the trip. I was already skilled in business operations since I'd built another company with my husband.

READ: What Skills Do You Need to Become a Travel Agent?

What kind of skills do you feel that you learned on the job? The basic travel agency functions - how to work with the cruise lines, wholesalers, tour companies and other organizations to get the best value for clients, and how to be a successful client advocate when something goes wrong. I've also learned travel wisdom: some of our clients come to us after a bad experience booking travel online. I learned a great deal about reading the fine print and it has made me a much more effective travel agent.

What tips would you give someone who is going on an interview for a job in the travel industry? First and foremost, your job is to help - to help find the ideal destination, itinerary, cruise line, motor coach tour, etc. To help make sure your client’s precious vacation goes smoothly every step of the way. Secondly, when I interview someone to work for me, of course I want people who have actually traveled, but it's not critical and not as important as being a good listener, responding quickly, showing up on time and demonstrating a true desire to help people. If people don’t realize they need help, they will just use the Web.

Diamond Cruise & Travel is a full service, boutique travel agency, specializing in custom vacation packages and expert cruise planning. For more information, visit www.cruisediamond.com.

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