New York, New York Travel Agent
Meet Robert Becker, Rock Star Travel Agent
Travel Pulse Magazine | October 2014
Robert Becker is no ordinary travel agent. Nor was his career launched in a traditional way.
It all began when Becker, who is also a musician, was working in several bands including doing studio work for The Gin Blossoms. “I decided to get involved with the travel because nobody else wanted to do it and I had already been through a summer of what we here in civilization refer to as ‘camping’ and was determined to avoid having to endure it again,” said Becker, who works at Protravel International in Manhattan.
Other bands began to take note of Becker’s aptitude for making travel arrangements. “I was good enough at it that other bands we were working with asked me to handle travel for them, as well as other people I knew who were looking for basic leisure travel arrangements,” he said. “This was how my client base was born. And we still have many of those clients today.”In 1991, Becker met Priscilla Alexander, who was then president of Protravel. “She invited me to come work with her group,” Becker said. “She also was instrumental in helping me grow my business in a way that was consistent and helped me develop the standards of quality and professionalism in the industry which I still live by.”
In the meantime, Becker’s work in arranging travel for rock bands, as well as for his growing numbers of leisure clients, enabled him to begin exploring the world – and subsequently create another specialty: dive vacations, for which he is listed as a 2014 Travel + Leisure agent specialist.
“I found myself drawn to wild and breathtaking places and I got certified for SCUBA while on a vacation in Jamaica,” he said. “I was hooked.”
As time went on, Becker began to plan his own vacations with an eye toward finding destinations that coupled great diving with cultural and natural attractions above the water line. “Naturally, when I returned, I would relate my experiences to friends and clients and we began to sell adventure packaging based on my activities and adventures.”
As his business began to blossom, Becker continued to push the envelope on adventure travel. “As we grew, I educated myself about various types of adventure travel, ranging from snow camping in Greenland to diving with great white sharks to cycling in destinations once thought closed to tourism,” he said. “I began to identify developing markets and to research everything I could about them.
All of which would be impossible without getting to know the destinations personally. “It is very, very important that we or someone close to us physically visits and experiences what we are selling,” said Becker. “Our staff has developed a set of standards that we need to operate and sell by – and it is impossible to do this without direct experience to refer to.”Over the years, Becker, a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) dive master, has cultivated relationships with a network of SCUBA divers and other professionals in the diving and adventure niches. “Often we have a fairly stringent vetting process for anything we sell,” he said. “It has to provide the utmost in reliability and functional accountability.”For the most part, Becker sells what he knows: destinations he has traveled to with competent people on the ground. “We do not ever sell anything blindly,” he said. “It is not only not worth the risk but it is not consistent with the standards we need to adhere to in providing reliable and accurate information up to the minute.”
Becker’s adventure clients run the gamut, including what he refers to as “upscale backpackers,” CEOs and movers and shakers in the entertainment and arts industries who share a love of unconventional travel. “These are not people who are going to be spending time in Cancun, Waikiki or most other mass market destinations,” he said.
Becker’s new business is typically generated from a mix of client referrals, Protravel’s agent network and publicity from such outlets as Travel + Leisure, PADI and a host of other publications and professional organizations.
In Becker’s view, knowing the clients is what it’s all about. “If we can get a real feel for who they are and what they are looking for, we can match them almost instantly with a situation they are going to love and appreciate.”
Read the full article here: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/people/meet-robert-becker-rock-star-travel-agent.html