KHM Travel Agent Spotlight: Emily Kladivo

AMANDA OFF-CAMERA: You became an Italian citizen, is that like- EMILY: Yes. AMANDA OFF-CAMERA: Through like being to Italy like so many times or- how did that happen. EMILY: No. So, I became an Italian citizen
because my father is almost all Italian. Through my grandmother we were able to
get our citizenship. ROBBY OFF-CAMERA: Parli Italiano? EMILY: Um, no. ROBBY OFF-CAMERA: No? Okay. [LAUGHTER] AMANDA OFF-CAMERA: Wait, what? You’re an Italian citizen? EMILY: I know! AMANDA OFF-CAMERA: Are like learning or- EMILY OFF-CAMERA: I’m trying. Yeah, I’m learning. Mhm. Yeah. EMILY OFF-CAMERA: I managed a resort in northern Minnesota and then I went on
to manage a bridal shop. And while I was working at a bridal shop I had a major
back injury but I was told by doctors that I was indefinitely out of work, like
as far as lifting or sitting at a desk job— and so, I knew that there was no way
with a business background in hospitality that I could sit at home all
day long. So, I thought what can I do? I then started Googling different job
opportunities that a person could do at home. I love to plan, I love to travel.
What a better job opportunity than becoming a travel agent? EMILY OFF-CAMERA: Obviously, the
first thing that I wanted to do was get over the hurdle of learning everything,
and really, I started like, I was thrown into the fire and learned as I went. I would just go into the booking engines and place bookings on hold and I would
chat with the Agent Support and they were fantastic. Immediately I felt very
welcome, but I feel like the KHM family has just continued to grow and
become better, and when I say KHM family, I really mean it. I said to an agent
earlier today, “welcome to the family,” because it is that. That’s how I was able
to continue to grow and reaching out to people who were very supportive,
especially on the KHM team. EMILY OFF-CAMERA: So, I was KHM Travel Group’s
2017 Agent of the Year, and we also took home six more awards, including the
Agency of the Year. My mom was sitting next to me, and she is my backbone and
she was, just seeing her face— I’m gonna get emotional, was such an incredible
moment and she was so proud. And Rick went over and took my mom’s hand when I
was walking up on stage, and my mom is in tears, and— like that moment I will
never forget. You know, people see that and they think, “okay, she knows what
she’s doing,” and at first it’s difficult. I don’t think a lot of my family
supported me in my business until I had been…until I became successful. They thought it was just going to be a hobby, and so really seeing that made people
realize that I am not doing it for just a hobby. This is my passion. It’s my baby EMILY OFF-CAMERA: Everyone sees the glamorous side of it. People see me traveling, and you know— I’ve had customers start their
own businesses thinking it has to be easy peasy being a travel agent, and it’s
not. It is absolutely amazing, but it’s not always glamorous. And, you know, when
I first started I was tracking flights for people. I was getting up in the
middle of the night I would set my alarm for 2 a.m. to check to make sure flights
were on time and it was really just giving people the extra… you know things
that you can’t get online when you book a trip. Going the extra mile. Sending that
gift. Sending a thank-you note. I know a lot of people say, “well, your doctor and
your dentist don’t do that.” No, but I’m in a customer service industry and we have
to be different than the person that’s an hour down the road because if you’re
not, why should someone else book with you over the next person? So, just doing
things that sets you apart from another agent or the online booking
websites. EMILY OFF-CAMERA: So, obviously, where my sales are I easily could go out on my own, and I get
asked that a lot even from suppliers, “Why aren’t you
independent?” And to me, one, I am way too busy to think about all of the things
that people don’t realize, or probably think about on a daily basis,
what it is that the KHM staff does. And with my first visit here,
I really saw the behind the scenes and it’s not just this place in a city in
Ohio that makes sure you get paid— like it is a full-fledged business running,
and those are the things that I would need to do if I were to go to my own. And
on the flip side of that, I would lose all of this. I have become very good
friends with all of the staff and many agents who are my best friends, and so
much would change. So, why? Why change?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *