Marketplace: Terri Hill Travel aims to create global experiences for families
April 2, 2018
Terri Hill caught the travel bug early in life, and she has not been able to shake it since.
She grew up traveling around the U.S. to go to her father's baseball games, since he was a Major League Baseball player. She said that they practically lived in hotels, and Hill created her own make-believe travel agency with old airline tickets when she was about 4 years old.
When she was 21, she entered the hospitality industry working for the Montage in Laguna Beach, California. She then moved to the Beverly Hills location and worked in VIP services. That is when she realized her passion for planning people's trips.
At that point in her career, she considered becoming a travel agent. She was doing work similar to that of an agent at the Montage, but owning a business would give her more flexibility. She began the search to make a career switch, but was offered a short-term position to come to Montage Deer Valley and help in its opening in 2010. She put her dream on a temporary hold.
"I came out here and fell in love with Park City, so I decided to stay," she said.
She remained at Deer Valley for another five years working as the director of residences before moving to leisure sales. But the idea of becoming a travel agent kept coming back.
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"I was just kind of ready for change," she said. "I wanted to be able to travel and make my own schedule."
She finally worked up the courage to leave and start her own business in the spring of 2016.
She said it was frightening to start a business from scratch, but she knew from working in the industry with other agents that as long as she was patient, work would come.
Now, she is a travel advisor who designs luxury trips from beginning to end, and she said that business is going better than expected.
"I've had clients all over the world, from shark diving in South Africa to climbing the glaciers of Patagonia to weekends away in Napa," she said.
She said that many people assume that travel agents are not as relevant in today's world, where individuals can book their trips entirely online. But, Hill has a different opinion.
"It's almost like the internet has come full circle and there's so much information on there that it's made it actually harder for people to do a lot of things on their own," she said.
Hill has gotten support while launching her business, since she is a member of the travel agency network SmartFlyer. The agency has agents around the world who collaborate about the places they have been so they can have a wider network of travel knowledge.
She said that as people look to invest more in "experiences rather than things," she loves creating those memorable experiences.
She works with some families for several years and plans trips around the curriculum the children are learning at school. For example, she planned a trip to Greece because a seventh-grade student in the family was studying Ancient Greece.
Allowing others to experience the joy of traveling and to learn about people who are different brings Hill joy.
"I think that there is nothing more important that you can do than travel as far as learning about different cultures and getting outside of your bubble," she said. "I love getting to be a part of it."
There are some challenges, such as working on a 24-hour schedule with clients constantly around the globe, but she admits that she will take the cons for the lifestyle she built.
"My life is kind of a vacation," she said.
Terri Hill Travel Collective