Blaire Kochar has always loved to travel but was faced with limited vacation time while working in Corporate America. She spent her free time researching new destinations and dreaming of traveling the world, and then she discovered that she could turn her passion into a new career as a luxury travel advisor. She joined the Brownell Mentoring Program in 2017 and launched BPK Travel. Learn more about her journey to becoming a travel advisor as well as her travel tips below.
How did you find Brownell?
Finding Brownell truthfully happened on a whim. I had a bunch of friends who were getting married and having their honeymoons planned by travel advisors who had a strong social media presence. (Check out Blaire’s Instagram here!) I started following these travel advisors and quickly realized that there was a resurgence of this profession now targeting a younger, millennial crowd. Through research, I found that all travel advisors were linked to a “host agency.” Then I simply Googled “Travel Agent Host Agency” and found Brownell.
Why did you choose Brownell as your host agency?
I knew nothing about host agencies or even the travel profession, so what drew me to Brownell was its Mentoring Program. I decided that if I was going to take a leap of faith and quit my cushy job in the oil and gas industry, I wanted to do it right and get the proper training. And of course, after multiple conversations with Brownell prior to being selected to be a part of this program, I quickly realized that this company is kind, professional, supportive, and encouraging. These are all extremely important traits in a host agency.
What aspect of Brownell is most important to you?
What I love so much about Brownell is its reputation…and this is not so I can brag that I am a part of one of the leading travel agencies or the oldest luxury travel agency in North America. Rather, it is a direct reflection on how Brownell does business. It’s so nice to be in a community built on respect and graciousness. It’s evident that Brownell and its preferred partners have built a foundation where each values one another, and it’s inspiring that Brownell’s main focus is truly getting to know its clients in order to deliver the most meaningful experiences.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to join the travel industry?
Know your inner circle! Your immediate circle will be your first clients, so make sure they love to travel (and then love to post on social media and tell all their friends how great of a trip you planned!!). From there, word will spread and your business will grow, but your inner circle will be your biggest cheerleaders and support system.
Why would you recommend a career in the travel industry?
Nothing is more rewarding than talking to a client after a trip and hearing that my contribution enabled them to have an extremely memorable experience. One client planned a milestone birthday trip with her friends who are scattered across the US, and the resort I recommended was the perfect place for them to get together and reconnect. I also love planning honeymoons, which arguably will be the most memorable trip of my clients’ lives. Additionally, I truly feel that traveling makes you a more well-rounded and open-minded person. I love facilitating this almost immediate transformation when my client experiences a destination that is on his or her bucket list or goes with a recommendation of mine, whether it’s a hotel or a new city, and grows as a result of it. I believe that the more people travel, the more tolerant and understanding they will be.
7 Questions with…
What was the best meal you’ve ever had while traveling?
I loved La Punta in Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy. This is a tucked away, open-aired restaurant on the water with sweeping views of the mountains in the distance. It was also a great place to catch the sunset! The food was simply prepared with lemon and salt, but the quality of the fish and pasta was evident with the first bite! And of course, the Italian wine list added to the overall experience too.
What popular destination lives up to the hype?
The Amalfi Coast, for sure. And what I didn’t realize until I traveled there is that each town along the Amalfi Coast has its own identity. You can really find something for everyone. For the traveler who loves to relax and take in the views, Ravello is incredible. For the traveler who likes to be in the action, Positano is the place to be. For the traveler who enjoys a little hustle and bustle but not to the extent of Positano, Amalfi is the perfect compromise. And the FOOD! The fresh seafood paired with pasta was truly divine.
What is the up and coming destination right now?
I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Bermuda. I think it’s rebranding and straying away from “your Grandma’s vacation spot” to something that’s fresh and hip. Plus, the fact that it is Zika-free is huge!
Runner up: anything Africa! While I know this destination is not new, I’ve seen more people deviate from a beach vacation and opt for a more active and experiential trip. Africa is THE PLACE for this combination.
What is your favorite destination?
Even though I’m traveling now, I can already predict that my favorite destination is Bora Bora. I think the misconception about French Polynesia is that there’s nothing to do, but in all actuality, there is a TON to do! In Moorea, you can hike or ride ATVs or explore waterfalls, and in Bora Bora, you can experience tons of water activities like jet skiing, helmet scuba diving and even swimming with sharks! And who doesn’t want to stay in an ultra-romantic over the water bungalow!?
What is the best travel advice you’ve ever received?
Push yourself out of your comfort zone – try the food you’ve previously resisted, engage with others rather than keeping to yourself, experience the excursions that have made you scared in the past… the harder you push, the more well-rounded you will become.
What is your travel motto?
Never over pack! Who likes to carry super heavy luggage anyway!? Always take the exact amount of clothes you will need. People think, “what if I’m not in the mood to wear this outfit I packed,” but if you don’t give yourself options, you will be in the mood to wear exactly what you packed.
What has been the most inspirational destination you’ve visited?
Nicaragua. I felt so connected to the people and experiences there. My trip to Nekupe was especially inspirational and almost spiritual. Everything in Nicaragua was intentional and not contrived. The natural beauty was incredible, too. I loved it!