Samantha Schultz is the owner of Plan Your Perfect Vacation, Inc. a full-service travel agency, specializing in international travel, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. She has traveled to over 60 countries – which all started with a 6-week solo trip to Europe in 2002. She and her 3 associates help plan dreams and create beautiful memories for clients all over the country and have the expertise that simply cannot be found by doing a simple search online.
She has been published in Recommend Magazine, has been featured on multiple podcasts, regularly attends conferences, educational events, and tourism board invite-only trips. Most recently she was recognized as a top producer with her host agency in 2019.
She started her business in 2016, and her mission and goal has remained unchanged today: To inspire people to see the world.
She is a travel matchmaker. Planning Dreams. One Experience at a time.
- CEO Hack: I am a routine type of person and prioritize my health and that of my business. I also read Atomic Habits by James Clear
- CEO Nugget: Relationships comes first, both personal and business level
- CEO Defined: Planning each day with intentions
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. And Samantha Schultz of plan your perfect vacation Inc. Samantha. It's awesome having Alicia. Yeah, Hey,
Samantha Schultz 0:39
thanks for having me. Gresh.
Gresham Harkless 0:41
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Samantha so I can hear about all of the awesome things that she's doing. And Samantha is owner of planning your perfect vacation, Inc, a full service travel agency specializing in intern interior and international travel as well as Alaska and Hawaii. She has traveled to over 60 countries which all started with a six weeks solo trip to Europe in 2002. She and her three associates associates help plan dreams and create beautiful memories for clients all over the country and have expertise that simply cannot be found by doing a simple search online. She has been published and recommend magazine and has been featured on multiple podcasts regularly attends conferences, educational events and Tourism Board invite only trips. Most recently she was recognized as a top producer with their host agency in 2019. And she started her business in 2016. And her mission and goal has remained unchanged to inspire people to see the world. She's a travel matchmaker planning dreams, one experience at a time, Samantha? Are you ready to speak to the imcl? community?
Samantha Schultz 1:40
Gresham Harkless 1:41
Awesome. Let's do it. And you're doing so many awesome things. I wanted to kind of start I guess kind of at the beginning. Could you take us through what I call your SEO story will lead you to get started with a business?
Samantha Schultz 1:49
Sure, definitely. I know you already touched a little bit on it. And thanks for the introduction. Travel. I know it's a big part of a lot of people's lives. And obviously right now is a little bit different. But hoping it gets back to where it was, you know, it all started, like you mentioned back in 2002 had never been out of the country before didn't grow up in a family that traveled and really didn't understand what the world was outside of my little bubble of where I grew up. So took the leap. And as you mentioned, spent six weeks traveling alone throughout Europe, and really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was very homesick during that time. But by the end of the six weeks, I fell in love with everything related to travel. And if at that point, it didn't quite hit me yet that I was going to have a future in the travel industry. It was more just how do I keep doing more of this. And many years later, I wanted to take you know, I've been traveling wanted to take another really big trip, it was to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji but three destinations didn't know a lot about i thought you know, I should hire an expert for this because I think that's something a lot of people do. You don't know something about something and you hire someone. So reach out to a travel agent and have an okay experience. But it wasn't what I was looking for there was kind of a lack of attention to detail, some personalization, and the ongoing care and support leading up to the trip just wasn't quite there. So I thought to myself at that point, I think there might be a need for this, there has to be other people that may be going through the same thing where they have this epic trip that they want to go on, and they need assistance and maybe can't find that right assistance. So at that point, I still haven't quite made the leap into entrepreneurship, kept traveling, really wanted to get more expertise, you know, as you mentioned, I mean, now I'm up to 60 countries that I've traveled to, but really wanted to get that experience around the world. And in 2016 made the leap I left the corporate world, because a lot of people that are in corporate jobs, understand you don't get a lot of time off of work. I wanted that flexibility. So I said Alright, it's time to go to start my agency. And now four years later, haven't looked back. Even even despite all the challenges that 2020 is brought.
Gresham Harkless 3:58
Nice, I definitely appreciate you for talking a lot. You know about like how you got started cuz I think you use the phrase epic trip, because I think you're absolutely right, where sometimes, you know, you plan for this vacation, especially if you as you mentioned, if you're in corporate, you know, maybe you get a certain amount of times per year, and you really kind of want this to be a really great experience. And I imagine it's definitely a huge letdown when that person may not, you know, have that attention to details that you provide. And you really don't get the experience that truly epicness that you're hoping to have.
Samantha Schultz 4:26
Yeah, definitely. I mean in a lot of people love to do their own planning or the you know, they enjoy that research process, but then sometimes may realize, like you mentioned with that short amount of time they get there and they realize, oh well I didn't include this in my plan or I didn't realize I needed reservations to this and now there's an opportunity lost and so sometimes if it is something that is going to be, you know, an out of the ordinary trip or somewhere you know, you may not ever get back to it might be worth having someone that's you know, been there and it's going to make sure that it's it's going to be perfect for you.
Gresham Harkless 4:57
Yeah, absolutely. Somebody definitely you know first and then the All those nuances that sometimes we forget when we think we can do it the DIY route and so many different aspects. So I know you touched on it a little bit, can you take us through exactly like how you support those clients? And what exactly that process looks like?
Samantha Schultz 5:13
Yeah, well, I know a lot of people. But first, the question I always get when I meet new people is, you know, wow, travel agents, agencies still exist, an agent still exists. And absolutely, we do. But I know that at least, I believe my agency is not quite what a lot of people think of when they hear the word travel agency or travel agent. So my clients are that you know, who I serve, and how I want to serve. It's really individuals that they're seeking expertise. They don't want to spend their fresh their prep their precious free time planning and doing all kinds of research, you know, sorting through things online, they're individuals that are looking for life enriching experiences, but looking for things that maybe they didn't know that existed. So, you know, to answer your question on the support standpoint, so it's, it's beyond just booking a plane ticket in a hotel and saying, Okay, how fun. It is, you know, basically getting to know my clients through developing a strong relationship with them getting to know what types of things do they like to do at home? And how does that translate into what they might want to do exploring a new destination, it's having 24 hour support. So anytime that someone is traveling, not only do they have my support 24 hours a day, I usually always have teams in country that are available to be their support for individuals that don't travel a lot. Or maybe it's just a really new destination to them. It's providing them support on how you know maybe how they're going to pack, how are they going to prepare what to expect as soon as they land. So the the difference again, between just, you know, hitting submit on a booking, it's really about getting my clients time back in not having to worry about all those details, how am I maximizing their investment in what they want to do and how they're spending their money on their trip. And then, you know, just knowing that they have, even though I'm kind of there with them, even though I'm not there with them, but having that support that if something gets off track, or they have questions or they're just unsure, they always have someone that can reach out to
Gresham Harkless 7:08
absolutely indefinitely sounds a lot like experience, so to speak, where, you know, you make sure that you do kind of understand like, exactly what they look for. And I imagine like whatever you person within the, I guess, the travel group, I didn't want it once and is looking for and what would they how they would deem or define a successful trip as well as to is so important, because you may not know of certain things that are events or places you can go when you're traveling to a certain place. But if you are dialed into that, then you probably provide an area to kind of connect and fulfill that gap.
Samantha Schultz 7:38
Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. It's, it's it's individuals that are, you know, they're wanting experiences, or they're just wanting things that maybe, you know, they haven't dreamed that they'd be able to do or just things again, that are only going to add to that trip and make it even more memorable than they could have imagined.
Gresham Harkless 7:59
Absolutely. And I think, again, like being able to kind of have somebody can lean on it, as far as expertise, but also things, you know, happen during the trip and have that, you know, 24 hour support is is so huge. And so I want to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. And this could be for yourself personally, or your business or combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?
Samantha Schultz 8:20
Well, I think, you know, from the start of my business, I realized and I think this kind of goes for any type of business, you know, relationships are just so important. So with other, you know, colleagues, people in your industry, but obviously with your clients, and I think just understanding that every client has a different level of need. I you know, I'm really all about customization and not doing anything cookie cutter. So get really knowing that that different level of need is there and being able to meet those different needs of my clients. And I know that is that's pretty basic. But I think a lot of times, it's easy, especially as your business starts to grow. And you know, you start getting busier and busier. And it's you want to automate. And there are some things that can be done. But for me, I feel like that client experience there, there was no way that I can automate that relationship building part and just really getting to know needs and needs change over time to mean clients I've had since day one, things evolve. And we I have to be able to, you know, to keep up with that and just make sure I understand where they're going and how those needs are changing. But I know that also my secret sauce to is I mentioned no customization. Everything is always tailored to that individual client. And again, you know, mentioned earlier about how my agency is just kind of beyond the like, let's book a flight lit. You know, book a hotel, you know, there is a very not I shouldn't say super in depth, but there is an in depth consultation process. You know, where I'm getting to know them from there. There's a significant amount of research but also partnership with the client, making sure we're kind of going back and forth and what their expectations and what their vision is for their trip is actually going to come to fruition. You know, and that comes through providing lots of proposals and again, that just that individualized experience, I would say is is what sets me apart. And I think that sets me apart from also to you know, there are a lot of agents out there that are a lot of people consider them hobbyists. So sometimes if this is an industry that we're a lot of people do this as like a retirement, something that's fun, which is totally fine. But a lot of times, it's hard when you're not doing this full time. And you're again, this is kind of your passion and your mission, to inspire people to see the world that you get down kind of into the nitty gritty like that.
Gresham Harkless 10:37
Awesome, awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?
Samantha Schultz 10:47
Yeah, well, I would say it maybe it was helpful, because I did come from the corporate world, before I started my business, but I am a very routine type of person, which I know a lot of entrepreneurs, that is kind of they, they rely on routines they rely on. Just having really good daily habits to keep them successful. And so and again, very basic, I don't know if this is a great pack, but I have kept 100%, since the first day I started my business, the same exact schedule crescenzi. Same exact, it's actually I work way longer hours now, although I love it. But I've kept the same schedule. As far as you know, I'm up at 430 most days, and I'm at my desk, usually at a certain time. And it's just it's keeping that consistent consistency, in that I have processes in place. And I no matter what, I guess, no matter what comes up, and no matter. I guess how I'm feeling I have to show up every day. And that and that's kind of why I love you know the name of your podcast, because every day, I wake up, and I'm the CEO, and I have to show up. And it isn't, it isn't an off day, it's always an on day. So I think just having those routines, getting up making sure I'm in my office and putting in the work, I would say kind of number one, that's been my biggest hack. And then I know another thing too, it's it is said over and over again. But a lot of people don't realize the power of it. But I think prioritizing my health and the health of my business. So I think there's two sides to that, you know, CEOs, those that run their own businesses, you know, a lot of times we are running very, very long hours. But knowing that I can't do my best work if I'm not prioritizing my health. So between, you know, exercising, making sure I get at least some sleep and eating well and eating regularly and not because sometimes at first it was like a whole day would go by and hadn't had anything to eat or I was you know, staying up till the wee hours of the morning and not sleeping. And I finally realized, you know what, I can't do my best work for my clients without my health. And then that's also going to then impact the health of my business. So that I would say those are kind of like my two big ones, just for kind of my date my day to day. But other than that, I would say for something more tangible as far as a hack. I love reading business books, professional development books, there's one that I read, actually, I'll probably read it every year for the rest of my life. I love it that much. But I sometimes will flip through it just when I feel like things are getting off when I talk about that routine, but it's called the books called atomic habits by James clear. It's just a great book, I don't think it matters what industry you're in, it actually probably doesn't even matter if you're an entrepreneur, it is a fantastic book that all that talks about the power of habits and how it leads to success, no matter what your goals are. So that that would be probably one of my biggest hacks. Awesome, awesome, awesome. So
Gresham Harkless 13:35
now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. If you were to happen to him a time machine, you might tell your younger business self this
Samantha Schultz 13:44
what I would tell my younger self even before I started my business, when I was in the corporate world, I this gonna sound terrible, but I really did not prioritize relationships. And it wasn't it was just something where I felt like if I just put in the work and if I worked harder and harder, success would come. And I actually found throughout my my corporate career that it kind of backfired on me. And so when I started my business, I realized you know what relationships come first whether it's with my clients, other colleagues, just whoever I interact with, that's going to ultimately lead me to success because if I surround myself with other great individuals, so again, whether other entrepreneurs or just people that can provide insight and knowledge that's going to propel my business and propel me as individuals
Gresham Harkless 14:32
love that nugget. And now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote CEOs on the show. So Samantha, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Samantha Schultz 14:42
Being a CEO means planning each day with intentions.
Gresham Harkless 14:47
Awesome, awesome. Well, Samantha, I truly appreciate that perspective. I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course our best thinking at home view if I also Your team are working on,
Samantha Schultz 15:01
you know what entrepreneurs love to help and mentor others. And most people don't realize that. So whether it's me or someone else that you hear on this podcast, if you're listening and you have questions about whether it's in the same industry or not just reach out to people, I find that I do that all the time. And at first I thought, you know, oh, they don't have the time for me, entrepreneurs will always make time for others, because they want to see others succeed. So that would be just kind of my final little thought there. And then as far as the best way to get a hold of me, I would say head to my website, which is www dot plan, your perfect vacation.com. There's ways to schedule time to talk with me, it doesn't have to be about a trip again, you want to just talk business entrepreneurship, what's going on in the world, I always make time for those that are interested. So again, my website, www dot planar, perfect. vacation.com.
Gresham Harkless 15:54
Awesome, awesome. Awesome. I appreciate that Samantha, and we will have the link and information in the show notes as well too, so that everybody can follow up with you. But I appreciate you for making time for us as well too, and providing so many words of wisdom and some mentorship for us, as well. And I think that so many times we forget that success is a team sport. And part of that success is part of that team is actually reaching out and having mentors and people that we can lean on and connect with and I appreciate you for open up the doors to do that. I throw my hat in the ring as well too. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.
Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at IAMCEO.CO. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it’s a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear a www.CEOgear.co This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.
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