Skill & Passion. It takes a lot of courage to make a career change, but Gilbert Green is just that kind of person. Having worked for several years in the IT field, Gilbert felt the tech bubble was about to burst and wanted to make a change. He has a natural passion for travel and had become the de facto travel agent for his friends and colleagues. Making a switch to the travel industry seemed like a natural move. In the summer of 2001, Gilbert left his position and planned to start his own travel agency.
Allure of the Seas - Inaugural sailing. In a serendipitous moment, Gilbert found his answer while on a road trip.
“I was living in New Jersey at the time,” recalls Gilbert. “And as a matter of fact, it was sheer luck that I wasn’t in the World Trade Center on September 11—that’s where our New York office was located. In October, I took a road trip with a friend down to Virginia Beach. I saw that the amusement parks
were full, that Colonial Williamsburg was full. I felt a deep sense of optimism and I decided to keep moving forward with my original plan.”
Gilbert entered the travel industry as planned, albeit on a smaller scale and more slowly than he initially thought.Ten years have passed since Gilbert made that decision, and his success is a testament to his ability to maneuver during a time of crisis. Through uncertain times and economic downturns, Gilbert has been able to build a business by utilizing his own unique skillset and passions.
“The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone entering the travel agency is to find a way to use a skill you have in a new way,” says Gilbert. “I worked in IT for years, so I was well-versed in talking to people on the telephone and solving problems. There has got to be a lesson you can bring into your new career.”
One of his natural qualities, a passion for education and knowledge, has aided Gilbert in his travel career. “My passion for travel was matched by my desire for intensive industry education,” explains Gilbert. “I focused on earning my CTA and then going on to earn CTIE industry certification, from the Travel Institute. When I learned that I passed the CTIE certification exam and white paper with a grade of 97, I was over the moon!”
Gilbert’s past career in IT also inspired the travel niche he chose to focus on. “I have been consistently grateful that I chose to focus on leisure travel,” says Gilbert. “In IT, the people you talk to are tense and angry. With leisure travel, no one is angry. Their trip is a joyful, bright spot in their life, and I get to help them with that.”
Most of Gilbert’s clients are seniors or honeymooners looking to plan the trip of a lifetime.
His personal travel preferences skew toward the magical—Disney, to be exact. “I was born to love Disney,” says Gilbert. “I am a Disney geek and attended the Disney College of Knowledge. I love the magic, the suspension of disbelief, the fact that I can have a luxury experience at Disney. At Disney, I can have whatever I want—a five-star dining experience, incredible architecture. Cruises are similar and that’s why I enjoy them as well.” As he vacations, Gilbert loves to explore the technology side of travel, how airports and ships are efficient (or not efficient), and other service-focused areas.
His need to explore this side of travel is what led him to become a NACTA member three years ago.
“I needed industry peers,” explains Gilbert. “I wanted to make connections within the business, and grow and learn as much as possible. I have found that NACTA members are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable people you could ever hope to meet.” The sense of camaraderie created by NACTA members and the experiential travel opportunities provided to members have made Gilbert even more thankful for his membership.
“Anywhere I have been with NACTA— whether it is at a local eatery in Hollywood, Florida, or on the inaugural cruise of the Allure of the Seas—I have been made to feel so welcome. I am impressed with the level of detail and time taken with these trips, and I plan to do future travel with NACTA,” says Gilbert.
Gilbert is a highly motivated person who enjoys a challenge and doesn’t allow minor (or major) setbacks to distract him from his overall goal. Now that he has
established a successful travel business, he is looking to expand in a unique direction.
“I have enjoyed the challenges of creating and developing my company. Everything from dreaming up a company name to development of our company logo and tag line (Elemental Travel Related Services: Ignite your passion for travel) has been fun for me,” says Gilbert. “Now, I am growing my business on two parallel paths. My primary role in the industry continues to be as a ‘travel researcher and advisor’ to my leisure clients. My second path is what is new
and exciting. Relying on my CTIE certification, I have begun consulting and providing leisure travel industry expertise to advertising/marketing research companies. I find this new area very exciting because I get to sit down with advertising industry executives and share my enthusiasm for this industry.”
Gilbert Green is the kind of travel professional that shows us relying on our instincts and natural talents is sometimes the best business plan of all.
By Julie Anne Long