We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Stecker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Eight years ago I never thought I would be where I am today. Booking friends and family for fun Disney vacations was all I needed to do. Then I met Annette Youngbauer a franchise owner of Travel Leaders. She burned something inside of me that drove me to want to explore. The need to teach people that there’s so much out there in the world that hasn’t been discovered, turned into a passion of mine.
The pandemic kind of gave me a “kick-in-the-butt”, to change my outlook on the everyday travel industry booking. You help your clients find the perfect destination and you book them somewhere, customer service 101. It just wasn’t feeding that fire that I know is inside of me. So, I’m trying to push boundaries and think outside the box. The pandemic gave me a fresh start to open my own business and take the risk. Yes, it’s definitely a struggle learning all of the “ins and outs” of running a small business. But it’s 100% worth it when I know that my travel agency is never going to be just the “dime a dozen”.
I want to make sure each of my customers are so excited to travel. Not just to reach the destination, but to live the destination every moment while they’re there, feel that adventure, and hold on to the experience!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
For the last few years I have been with a fantastic travel agency; servicing clients, traveling, creating relationships, but it was just status quo and I was stuck in a rut. When I took a step back and saw what was going on, I knew I needed to take a creative step in a different direction. I sat down and started researching what other agencies where doing and took note on what not to do. They all had the same vibe, either super young and visual focused on unrealistic destination travel for the mass, or the ‘fairytale’ Disney dime-a-dozen agency. It’s hard to break out of that mold, as nine years ago I created to what now is one of the largest social media pages for a WDW resort. So people always look at me as “the Disney expert”. Which don’t get me wrong, yep, I am a Disney girl 100%, but it’s not what I want my company to be just known for,
That’s when I decided it was time to build something that could adjust how we as agents service and research, bring in a bold name “Travel Advisors Unlimited LLC”. I spent at least a week every month traveling last year. Chatting with locals from around the United States as well as the Caribbean, creating relationships with vacation rental owners, and finding those “outside of the box” resorts. I wanted to find something different and unique our guests, whether traveling alone, as a couple, in a group, or with family. Places that would accommodate everyone, a website that is generational friendly.
I am still learning and little by little gathering information and content to share on my platforms, but today, I feel good where I am and with the decisions I have made. Slow and steady wins the race!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh lord, this is a loaded question! I live in the oldest most beautiful city in America, St Augustine! So with that, my Golden Girls come down from Pittsburg to take advantage of my hospitality. We spend days lazy on the beach and I tease Tracey that sharks are going to eat her. Uber into downtown for dinner and night life. One day we usually hop into my car and drop the top to cruise down A1A and explore. being completely inappropriate and laughing at each other.
In all the years we have traveled together the best times we have are just by “winging it” and being in the moment!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout would have to be 100% to my extremely patient husband. Knowing how much focus and time would be goin g into starting up my own travel business. He has been right by my side helping me stay organized and cheering me on. I also have to give some mad props to my Golden Girls, they are my support and encouragement. With out my tribe, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to follow through with starting my own company.