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Daily Inspiration: Meet Free Russell-Louviere

Today we’d like to introduce you to Free Russell-Louviere.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?I began falling in love with travel at the age of six. No, really. My Great-Grandmother, Earthalene Kazee, began facilitating group travel with tour buses to domestic areas such as Hot Springs, Arkansas. I give credit to my Godmother, Gloria Nelson, who later took the baton and added precision, customer service, invoicing and “Thank You” gifts.

I also give credit to my mother, the late Mrs. Beulah Russell, for my success in this industry. I’ve spearheaded travel groups for several years and I had my largest cruise group. My mother, who was recovering from a major stroke which rendered her immobile, insisted that she, my siblings, and my godparents cruise as well. This was her first cruise! After Day 2, my mother sat me down on the Lido Deck and told me that I no longer needed to use a travel agent… I was the travel agent. At that moment, RL Travels was born.

After the passing of my mother, my godmother basically took me under her wing. From there, I took the business further by adding international travel, cruising, All-Inclusive vacations, as well as domestic getaways. I started with groups because that’s what I knew best. I was always taught to perfect my craft if that craft was my true passion. So I did just that with education, weekly training, seminars, and personal travel. So now, here we are!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has had smooth and rough roads. You will have both. The smooth road is the fact that people rarely like to vacation solo. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to serve people that I would have never met unless we were introduced by other clients. Word-of-mouth is the best medicine for any small business.

The rough road happens when you find yourself so consumed with creating travel experiences with others and you forget about yourself. I traveled with every group and didn’t realize that I was actually working and not vacationing. In addition to being a Luxury Travel Advisor, I had to remember that I am also a Minister, Wife, Mother, and Glam Mother. Balance is the key.

Another rough road for all Travel Partners and Agents has been the pandemic. It was a curveball that we never saw coming. RL Travels survived because we kept our clients informed and we stayed knowledgeable. Be prepared for anything and everything. In these ever-changing times, become an ever-changing agent.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I specialize in groups (corporate, leisure, family, and destination weddings). I love, love, love groups! This is what I’m known for and I happily accept this reputation.

When I first speak to a client, I let them get all of the anxiety out of the way. The budget, the itinerary, the agenda, etc. Then I say, “I have a favor. Close your eyes. I need your mind to be void of any ideas and thoughts. Now tell me your dream vacation. What are you doing? What do you see? What’s the temperature? What are you eating?” They are so relaxed and dreamy-eyed. That’s what I want to capture! So as they’re speaking, I’m writing down ideas. This is how I custom-design vacation experiences for my clients and that’s what sets me apart from other agencies. This is how I created my Tagline: Experience The World Through YOUR Eyes.

When I give them that quote, which is often different from what they expected, they are more excited than ever. I’m most proud of that moment and when they return and say, “Do it again! Next year, we want to go to….”

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
In the next 5-10 years, I see other agents under my wing as trained Travel Agents-Agents that have been trained, educated and accredited. I have already started this transition as I have two other agents and will begin interviewing more within the next year.

Every agent with RL Travels must have the drive and the passion. This is not a “hustle”; this is not a way to make extra money. Clients trust us with their vacations and some only receive one week of vacation per year. To be considered as a Travel Agent for our agency, you must really want to be a Traditional Agent. My goal is to slowly faze out as the main Travel Agent and the agents will begin to handle more clients and more travel experiences. I’ll always be a major part of RL Travels. Major changes are happening in the near future. I’m excited about what the future will bring to RL Travels.

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