I know some awesome people who run their own businesses here in San Diego (or around the world in this case) and I want to shine a spotlight on them!
Every week or two I will interview and introduce a local entrepreneur who has gained my trust and respect, and might be able to help you!
For my second installment, I interviewed Allison Hunt who has a deep love of travel that shines through in her work. She boldly started her travel agency right in the middle of a global pandemic and is thriving despite the difficulties surrounding travel right now. I always thought it would cost a bunch of extra money to have a travel agent help plan a trip, but it turns out the opposite is true! Watch the interview to learn why!
Jon Ray: (00:11) Allison, I think has probably traveled to more countries in the last year than anybody else I know. Do you know how many countries you’ve been at in the last year? Or, just give a guess.
Allison Hunt: (00:22) As, as far as countries go, it’s really probably only, I’m coming up on three, maybe? I’ve traveled to a lot of states. I did a cross country road trip. So a lot the United States I saw during the pandemic and then traveled several places in Mexico. And now I’m coming to you live from France.
Jon Ray: (00:43) France? Yeah. She’s in Paris right now and going to Rome later this week. If I know anybody with a passion for travel, it’s definitely Allison and that’s perfect for what she does for her work. So Allison is a travel agent and she can help people book travel, book excursions, make their plans. She’ll be able to do a lot better job of explaining what she does. Let’s just get into the interview questions. So Alison, how did you get into the travel business?
Allison Hunt: (01:17) So as you shared with everyone already, my passion is definitely travel, but I never really felt like I was able to do enough of it. Actually I owe it to the pandemic really because it gave me a little bit of extra free time for a little while. I went out on a road trip during the pandemic across the country. Drove from California to Pennsylvania and making many, many stops along the way. During that road trip, I actually discovered that it was something I felt like I could do a lot more of. So travel was something I really wanted to be actually doing full time. After that, everything just fell into place. I discovered that becoming a full-time independent travel agent was something I could do and I could literally travel and work from anywhere. I started the process back in April and ever since then, I’ve been traveling smarter for myself. And then based on everything I learned from my travels, I’m able to provide recommendations to other people and help them book as well.
Jon Ray: (02:21) Right on, yeah. It’s a pretty big perk of the travel agency business to be able to work from anywhere you are in the world.
Jon Ray: (02:28) I guess all you really need is an internet connection, right?
Allison Hunt: (02:31) A hundred percent. Yep. Just a connection. I can book a hotel room.
Jon Ray: (02:37) So what’s one thing that everybody should know before hiring a travel agent?
Allison Hunt: (02:44) That you don’t have to pay more to work with me. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions I think about travel agents is that, “Oh, there’s probably all kinds of fees associated with this. Why would I go to you to book when I could just book it myself for cheaper?” Well, it’s really just not the case. So my commissions are actually paid by the suppliers. I connect you with whatever it may be the hotel, the flight, the all-inclusive, the cruise, whatever. They pay the commissions to me. Essentially for you, the price should be no different. I would say that’s probably the biggest misconception that I like to discredit.
Jon Ray: (03:26) Yeah, guilty. I’ve always thought that it’s more expensive to work with a travel agency. And that’s only something that the wealthy elite can do or whatever, but no, it makes a lot of sense that you have better connections and can get at better deals. And so it’s a real, win-win.
Allison Hunt: (03:42) Not just for any one particular type of travel either. That’s another misconception, is yeah, it’s only for the wealthy or for luxury travel. But I mean, I have every access to everything, down to hostels that I can essentially book. Booking through me, even if it’s something simple that you could do on your own, you’re helping out a small business. You can got to my website which is very similar to Expedia. It’s just a booking engine. Even if you’re just booking a basic hotel for the weekend, you book it through my site and the commission is going to me rather than a large booking like Expedia.
Jon Ray: (04:22) If I was going to book a flight just to go visit my parents, is that something that you help with? Or should I just go direct to alaskaairlines.com and do it myself?
Allison Hunt: (04:32) Yeah. With flights, when it’s just a flight alone, it’s something I’m happy to always take a look at for you. There might not be too much benefit for both parties as far as booking through me. Airlines are a little bit tough with booking. Providing commissions to travel agents. It’s always something I’m happy to touch base on. But, where booking flights for me really starts to make sense is when we’re looking at an entire trip and I’m planning the details of where you’re going to stay. Helping you out with the hotel accommodations and the rental car, in addition to the flights and maybe getting it bundled up into a package. That’s what would make the most sense. It’s always something that we can connect on and see if I can help.
Jon Ray: (05:24) Got you. Got you. Cool. I know that you’re in Paris right now and you’re often all over the world, but tell me something that you love about San Diego and having this as your home base?
Allison Hunt: (05:32) Ah. I mean, I can go all over the world, but San Diego I know will always be my home base. You have everything. Everything that I could need in one place. I mean, the weather is amazing. The people are just awesome and laid back and then you’ve got the beaches, the mountains, the city, pretty much everything at your fingertips. It’s just the lifestyle that I love to live. And then we’re also so close to Mexico. I travel in and around Mexico quite often. To be able to easily pop across the border, grab a flight out of Tijuana to go anywhere in Mexico for a more affordable airline ticket price. I mean, those are just a few things, but San Diego’s home for life. For sure.
Jon Ray: (06:21) For sure. Yeah, it’s true. My wife and I flew to Cancun one time and we went out of Tijuana instead of San Diego and we saved like 600 bucks each. It was crazy.
Allison Hunt: (06:31) Exactly. I was just in Tulum, as you know, right before Paris. We flew into Cancun for my birthday and it was a girl’s trip of 11 girls, and I just had us all carpool to the airport, the border. And we walked across on foot, hopped on a plane in TJ, and it saved us each several hundred dollars.
Jon Ray: (06:55) We’re going to put links to your phone number, email, your website, all that stuff in the video, but what is the best way for people to connect with you?
Allison Hunt: (07:07) I am accessible through all avenues phone, text message, the number, you can even text the number that you’ll receive in the link. So phone, text, or email, you can register through my website, it’s just allisonhunt.intellitravel.com, and that will alert me to contact you if you’d like me to reach out to you. Basically, we can set up a call from that point and just talk about your travel needs. I like to send out a form basically for you to fill out, or if we get on a phone call, we’ll talk through the questionnaire. But basically I talk through what type of traveler that you are with you, so that I can get a feel for what you’re looking for in your trip. What accommodations you prefer and everything really down to the bed type and the amenities that you like and what you want to be close to.
Allison Hunt: (07:59) Just everything that you need, whether or not you need a rental car and to park the car at the hotel and just all the nitty gritty details of your vacation. And then from there, I start planning. Once we talk through all those details, depending on the needs of the trip, it could be a 48 hour, 36 hour turnaround time frame for a proposal. But I compile a list of options for you, maybe at different price points or based on the things that we discuss and then shoot over your options. Then when you’re ready to book, I just send you the link and then it’s as simple as that, we get you all squared away.