Travel is not only booming in the United States but also evolving. With the emergence of alternate booking methods such as mobile apps and non‐traditional lodging options such as Airbnb, the choices can be daunting.
One woman, Shonta Smith‐Persley, is helping people navigate the tough travel terrain both literally and figuratively. She encourages her clients to leave their comfort zones, cross a line off their bucket lists, and make lasting memories. Smith‐Persley is the founder of Treasured Travel Destinations, a Houston‐based company that caters to seasoned travelers as well as novices.
Smith‐Persley started her professional career with a computer information systems degree, a cushy job in Corporate America as well as her own catering company. In her free time though, she was the go‐to person to book group trips for her friends. A joke one day on Facebook that she should have been a travel agent led to a moment of fate that would change her life. A travel agency saw her post and trained her to turn her avocation into a business. Eventually Smith‐Persley left her job to pursue her passion full time and hasn’t looked back since.
The seeds for her love of travel were planted far earlier, however. Her grandmother told her that there would be a day when she would not be able to “go” so seize each moment. Smith‐Persley did just that.
“I traveled to Barcelona, Amsterdam and the Hawaiian Islands,” she said. “People would see me travel and ask questions; then they started joining me.”
Unfortunately, her grandmother’s wise words soon came true when Smith‐Persley was stricken with sciatica and could not walk. She eventually healed and is now back jet setting the world, but her life’s mission is to pass this wisdom on to others.
So, why do you need a travel concierge when you can do it yourself? Some services that a travel concierge provides are: helping obtain passports, educating about destinations, providing a list of packing tips, and customizing as well as personalizing the entire travel experience from start to finish. Smith-Persley says that she doesn’t send anyone to a location she hasn’t visited, so she is at ease knowing her clients will be well taken care of.
“If there is a hurricane, my clients will be the first to get out, not the Internet‐booked ones. They will charter a plane and get them out first because of the personal relationship I have with the resorts,” she explained. “Plus, if you are booking online, you have no idea what the place is like; you’re left to make the decision yourself.”
The resorts Smith‐Persley works with are 4‐star or higher because she believes it isn’t about the price; it’s about the experience. Her motto is to “upgrade your travel experience.” She works with a wide range of clients including couples, groups, destination weddings, honeymoons, getaways and women’s conferences. Many people—including her own husband—start out not wanting to leave the safety net of home, but come back after their first trip saying, “Where can I go next?!”
Some of Smith-Persley’s treasured travel destinations are:
Romantic/Lover’s Trip: Sandals Resorts International
Girlfriends’ Getaway: Jamaica or Barbados
Destination Wedding: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Weekend Getaway: Cancun, Mexico
Smith‐Persley embodies the lifestyle she promotes and has been all over the world, including sailing on cruise ships for a rejuvenating 14‐days. She believes stepping away from the grind renews your mind and spirit: “We all work hard, so we have to reward ourselves.”
To learn more about Treasured Travel Destinations and begin your own escape, contact:
Sarni graduated from the acclaimed Medill School of Journalism and has published articles for publications nationwide. When not seeking new adventures in her neck of the woods or across the continents, she enjoys her work as a branding and public relations specialist. She helps develop and expand luxury, lifestyle and conscious brands. Sarni believes the irony in travel is that the more you explore humanity’s differences, the more you realize just how connected we all truly are.