7 Questions With… Kristen Meckem | Brownell Hosting

7 Questions With… Kristen Meckem

Kristen crossing Lake Titicaca, 1974

It’s no surprise Kristen Meckem chose a career in travel. At six years old, her parents packed up the family in a Volkswagen pop-top camper and drove from Minnesota through Central America to Argentina and Brazil. Since then she has explored the world, swimming with sharks in Tahiti, exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu, and traveling through Europe for a year with her husband and children. After a successful career in design, Kristen decided to shift gears and make travel her full-time job. Learn about her journey to becoming a luxury travel advisor, a few of her travel tips, and more below.

How did you find Brownell?      

I found Brownell through a friend who is a Virtuoso Travel Advisor. She had heard of Brownell’s Mentoring Program while she was at Virtuoso Travel Week.

Why did you choose Brownell as your host agency?      

I chose Brownell to be my host agency because I wanted to learn from the best. I watched every single video on the Brownell website (multiple times), and I talked to other Brownell Advisors. It felt very right, and it felt like it would be a very good fit for me. Once I started the interview process, I had an instant connection with Miss Rebecca Willson, and I knew I had found my travel family.

What aspect of Brownell is most important?      

I could talk for hours about this! For one, it is the instant recognition that I receive from suppliers. It takes a while to form relationships with suppliers, but with Brownell, the brand recognition, respect, and admiration are there immediately. It’s the basis for all of my relationships with suppliers, and then I build from there. Another thing that I get excited about is the Hosting Team’s ability to recognize and deliver services to enhance our businesses. They want us to succeed, and they see where we have needs that they can offer services to help us grow. We work so closely together, and they are very dear to me. I also love my Marketing Team. Not only do they deliver fantastic service and products, they also enhance my life. It’s FUN to work with our Marketing Team.

Kristen (right) with Brownell Independent Advisor Pascale LeJeune at Brownell Academy

What advice would you give to someone who wants to join the travel industry?      

Do your research. (If you don’t enjoy research, you won’t enjoy the industry.) Read host agencies’ websites and talk to as many people as you can who are already in the industry. This is a very giving and joyful industry, and you will be happily received if you reach out to talk. Ask a million questions, and see how you feel. Stemming from a place of wanting to help others is better than wanting free travel. It’s transparent when it’s more about you than about your future clients, and the most successful Advisors seem to have one thing in common: they love to enhance their clients’ lives through travel.

What is your favorite aspect of your career as a luxury travel advisor?

The people! Imagine establishing a relationship with a supplier over the phone and email, but the first time you meet him in person is in Cape Town! It’s a joyful and giving industry with a huge emphasis on relationships.

7 Questions with…

1. What was the best meal you’ve ever had while traveling?

Oh gosh, that is a hard one! I would have to say Brae in picturesque Victoria, Australia, off the Great Ocean Road. Upscale but not stuffy, Brae offers local courses from their 30-acre organic farm. You can see the chefs walking, with their baskets, through the fruit orchards and the vegetable plots. They pick tomatoes off the vine, and then you’re eating them. It’s beautiful food.

2. What popular destination lives up to the hype?

Italy! Italy has it all: the ocean, the views, mountains, lakes, food, the countryside, gorgeous properties, culture, lovely locals, everything. It’s terrific for first time travelers because they will not be too far out of their comfort zone. And for the traveler who has been to the must-sees, there is plenty more to explore.

3. What is the up and coming destination right now?

Paris, London, Rome, Venice, and Tuscany are always in vogue, and with good reason. Morocco and Iceland are still hip places to go. Safari, Galápagos, and Antarctica are bucket-list favorites. River cruising is a huge trend right now; how else can you see five countries while unpacking only once?

4. What is your favorite destination?

Europe, Africa, and Australia. That’s pretty broad, but each of those holds dear memories for me. Having been a guest and explorer in 67 countries, it’s difficult to choose. But I would say that Alberobello is one of the destinations I will fondly remember forever. And cooking school with my dad in Rome.

5. What is the best travel advice you’ve ever received?

It’s okay to leave something to go back for.  If you stuff too much in, there’s less chance for the magical moments to unfold.

6. What is your travel motto?

Collect moments and memories, not things!

7. What is your dream trip?

The last time I was in the Galápagos was 1974 with my parents and my brother. My dream trip would be to take my husband, daughter, son, and son-in-law there.  I also would love a French river barge with my friends.

So what’s next for Kristen?

This is the Year of Europe for me. I’ve recently returned from a river cruise to Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, & The Netherlands. In July, our daughter will be married on Lake Como, and we will also visit the Riviera & the Dolomites. October is a river cruise to Paris & Normandy. And December is Paris for the Dorchester Collection & Cannes for luxury travel’s global event. Next year I have one thing on my radar so far: Newfoundland and the Fogo Island Inn!

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Kelly Millington, Fairfield, CT

The sky is the limit here!

“Brownell Hosting is the gold standard in host agency programs. From the onboard training to the day-to-day support, the hosting team offers best practice strategies and industry insight to ensure I stand apart in the marketplace. Even as a home-based advisor, I feel incredibly connected with not just the hosting team but the entire Brownell Family. There is a collaborative and supportive environment among the advisors which truly gives me an advantage in designing client travel experiences. I am so proud to be affiliated with such a prestigious agency. The sky is the limit here!”

Irene Quisenberry, Tampa, FL

My clients are spoiled because I am part of Brownell

“I found my family when I found Brownell. Just having their name behind me brings enthusiastic greetings (and sometimes hugs) from hoteliers, and suppliers when I first meet a new partner. The support and values are truly outstanding and I couldn’t imagine being with another host agency. My clients are spoiled because I am part of Brownell.”

 

Catherine Parkin, Denver, CO

The best quality of "work-life!"

“For quality of work-life, there isn’t a better place to be than Brownell. I most value the culture of support, the detailed financial reports and the amazing hosting team.”

Martha King, Richmond, VA

We could not do this without you!

“The Mentoring Program gave us the chance and the training to start a business AND the continued support to grow that businesss. We could not do this without you!”

King & Whitson, Chattanooga, TN & Washington, VA Washington, VA

Brownell is the best in the industry

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Jennifer Royster, Clemmons, NC

Team Marketing is tops

“I love all of the creative marketing help. The very most helpful thing was when they prepped me for my interview with Travel Agent Central. Their guidance on that was so spectacular, and I genuinely feel as though I could not have handled that without them. Team Marketing is a very important part of my plans to grow my business, and I always feel very supported.”

Kristen Meckem, Bend, OR

The support when I travel gives me great peace of mind

” Brownell Hosting offers support to IC’s that are traveling and need assistance with coverage. This gives me great peace of mind!”

Stephanie Miller Murphy, Mandeville, LA

Helped connect me with editors for press opportunities

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Courtney Regan, San Francisco, CA

Brownell is constantly evolving

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Kelly Millington, Fairfield, CT

The best support an IC could ask for. Bar NONE.

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Louisa Gehring, Cincinnati, OH

Constant support, encouragement and super-fast response times

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Martha King, Signal Mountain,TN

We love the social media content & tips

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King & Whitson, Chattanooga, TN & Washington, VA

I am loving every minute of my new career

“The Mentorship program is amazing! I am loving every minute of my new career.”

Kristen Nix, Whitefish, MT

I love the one-on-one marketing support

“I love the marketing 1:1 calls because they really help me think outside the box with ideas for social media, blogging, and direct mail.”

Kristen Nix, Whitefish, MO

I'm inspired to set new goals

“Brownell Academy is my chance to step away from the daily office routine and immerse myself in the world of travel. Having uninterrupted quality time with other advisors and vendors not only builds camaraderie, but inspires me to set new goals. I come back to my office not only rejuvenated, but also with specific actions I can immediately implement to improve my business & provide better service to my clients.”

Suzette Mack, San Jose, CA

The mentoring program was critical

“The Brownell mentoring program was critical to the successful launch of my travel business. It was a year well-spent learning the ins and outs of the industry and the Virtuoso network. When I graduated from the program, I felt fully integrated into the company and was ready to take my business to the next level.”

Katherine Gould, Richmond, VA

An incredible opportunity to join the industry as a newbie

“The mentoring program was an incredible opportunity to join one of the premier travel agencies in the world as a complete newbie. Brownell’s staff was always available and willing to help with the countless questions I had during my first year. Being mentored by the top travel professionals in the industry contributed immensely to the success that I am now enjoying.”

David Ourisman, Berkeley, CA

I have reached goals beyond my expectations

“I wanted to convert my love for travel, marketing skills, client service skills, and technology background into a career. Fortunately, Brownell’s mentoring program allowed me to do just that and allowed me to reach goals that were beyond my expectations. An unexpected bonus of joining Brownell has been becoming part of an organization where each part of the team is truly supportive of my efforts and is interested in my ongoing success. Brownell’s methods and techniques serve as a daily inspiration.”

Linda Terrill, Atlanta, GA

Freedom to sell with quick support

“The hosting program allows me freedom to do my work. I always receive an answer quickly on any of my numerous questions!”

Marion Harbison, Chattanooga, TN

I count my lucky stars that I work with Brownell

“There is no agency better than Brownell! Our Hosting Team is there to hold our hands through the good and the bad. What a huge support group we have! I count my lucky stars every day that I am fortunate to be working for Brownell. The hosting staff is such a comforting and hands on team. They are positive reinforcements of acknowledging when we excel and encourage us to grow our business by having the opportunities to travel and experience the wonderful hotels and resorts we sell worldwide.”

Caroline Wallace, Richmond, VA

The support and education is amazing

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Catherine Whitworth, Athens, GA

A joy to work with

Everyone has been so great to work with – prompt, helpful, informed and supportive. It has been a joy for me – and I thank all of you.

Jeff Scofield, Chattanooga, TN

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