Don’t be too hard on yourself. I used to thrive to be perfect at home and at work. At work, my clients expect the best. At home, my family just wants me to be me. Realizing I can be myself at home helps me balance my home life and my work life.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Annie Davis.
Annie is the president and founder of Palm Beach Travel, a full service elite travel and lifestyle agency located on the island of Palm Beach, FL. in the United States. She has been recognized as the world’s only American Express Travel Insider for the British Virgin Islands, and is also the world’s only American Express Travel Insider for Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Annie has been an active member of the travel industry for many years, including when she was the founding member of both Jet U.S. and Midway Airlines. After launching Jet U.S., she moved from Detroit to Chicago where she spent over 10 years with Midway Airlines. While there, Annie held a variety of management positions, specializing in in-flight services, training and hospitality. During her tenure with Midway Airlines, Annie was recognized with numerous honors and awards.
After her career at Midway Airlines, she had the unique opportunity to join American Express as an elite Platinum and Centurion Travel and Lifestyle Consultant. In this capacity, Annie quickly rose to the exclusive Centurion Team 3, which worked with the top 10% of the American Express Centurion Card Members.
Always ahead of travel trends, Annie saw an opportunity to service the residents and visitors of Palm Beach by opening the storefront travel agency, Palm Beach Travel, in 2013. Palm Beach Travel is an affiliate of Altour/American Express, specializing in a diverse, but select, clientele. Since opening, Palm Beach Travel has doubled in size, with its staff consisting of American Express Centurion Travel professionals, each with more than 20 years of travel experience. In both 2014 & 2015, Palm Beach Travel was awarded the Avoya Travel Best of the Best Agency. Palm Beach Travel has been twice nominated for the Magellan Award.
Due to her background in the travel business and world travels, Annie has been exposed to many different cultures and destinations, and still enjoys seeking new experiences while traveling the world. She attended college in Michigan and finished her degree shortly after moving to Florida.
In the end, family is a big priority for Annie and has made her who she is today. When she isn’t traveling this mompreneur enjoys being at my home with her husband Brent and their sons, Jack and Max.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Myfirst paying job lasted all of three days. I was a flight attendant for an airline that went belly up. However, that job, led to an opportunity to be a founding member of Midway Airlines. From there, I went to work with American Express and started booking travel for the top 10% of the wealthiest American Express cardholders. While there, I saw the need for a luxury travel agency on the island of Palm Beach. I was able to find a great location and with the support of my family, American Express and my colleagues, I opened Palm Beach Travel in 2013. Our office was small, and I was the only agent. Although the first few years were tough, we now have 7 agents, and 2400 square feet and we are continuing to grow.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
For me the most interesting story would have to be last year’s travel experience. A big part of owning a travel agency is traveling, so last year, I had the opportunity to travel around the world in two short months. I started in Canada, traveled to India with Taj Hotels, climbed Tigers Nest in Kingdom of Bhutan, sailed on Star Clippers from Thailand to Malaysia, went on Safari in Sri Lanka, stayed in a cocoon at Wild Coasted Tented Lodge, rode camels in the Empty Quarter, took a Phantom Rolls Royce to the Burj al Arab, the worlds my luxurious hotel. Then I had a fish pedicure in Abu Dhabi, shopping in Qatar, cliff diving at Harbour Island, helicopter tour of Cayman Islands, nightlife in Miami, and finally ended in Alaska where I went kayaking among the glaciers. It was an amazing experience!
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
Shortly after opening, we were informed by our landlords that a big corporation was coming into our shopping plaza and they needed to reclaim my storefront.
They made me a great offer to move to a much larger spot in a prime location. But, with that spot came a more expensive rent payment. It was a tough decision to make. I asked myself, “Do I close my agency after just two years or take the risk and expand my business?”
After some tough negotiating and planning, I decided to expand my business and take advantage of a storefront in a prime location in a top luxury resort town. The risk has paid off but, it wasn’t easy to get to this point.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
Leadership to me means giving others the opportunity to succeed. I love to help others because so many people helped me become successful.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
It is not just one person but a small group of people at American Express that helped me launch Palm Beach Travel.
Can you share a story? At American Express, I was fortunate enough to be on an exclusive team of travel agents. We worked with the top 10% of the wealthiest card holders. What made our team so successful was the dynamic between us. It was these team members who gave me the confidence to leave a great corporate job and start my own business. So far, 2 of the top agents in the group came to work for me. Our door is open for the rest!
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
At times it was challenging. Owning my own business gave me the opportunity to involve my family in the business. I built an extra little workspace in the back of my office where my kids could do their homework after school. They really feel like they are an important part of Palm Beach Travel. My husband is also very supportive of my business. Even as a busy attorney, he would make time to take the kids to school or attend soccer games if I couldn’t get away.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
Sometimes it was difficult to focus. However, my family always came first, and I made sure they were a priority. But it did affect some other areas. like friendships. I no longer had enough time to spend with the girls. I miss that.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. I used to thrive to be perfect at home and at work. At work, my clients expect the best. At home, my family just wants me to be me. Realizing I can be myself at home helps me balance my home life and my work life.
- Stop taking your work home with you. Which I know is easier said than done. So, I stopped opening my laptop when I get home from work. It helps me focus on my family.
- Make sure you take care of yourself first. I practice hot yoga a minimum of 4 days a week. I eat well (most of the time) and get plenty of sleep.
- Make work a family affair. My husband and children are actively involved in my work. Palm Beach Travel is very active philanthropically.
- What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride? When I hear my employees talk about how happy they are and when our clients tell me how much they enjoyed their travels. I am also able to provide my employees with a great work life balance.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would require everyone to travel the world and experience other cultures. I think there is so much hate in the world just because people don’t understand each other’s differences. The world would be a different place if everyone simply had this opportunity.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook