We had the good fortune of connecting with Free Russell-Louviere and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Free, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Everything within your business should be systematic. Check your emails every morning. Make your list of assignments to complete and list them according to most important to least important. Everything that was performed in your 9-5 has taught you how to excel in your business. I’ve taken those talents, and I’ve applied them to RL Travels. Because the agency opens at 9:00am, I am awake at 6:00am. I make my list every morning, I check my emails and I see to the needs of the business BEFORE 9:00am approaches. By doing this, I am ready to assist my clients at the top of the hour and they have my undivided attention. They walk away, or hang up, feeling like they are the only client I have. When you make your list and handle your tasks at the beginning of the day, before your business opens, you can give your clients quality service and more attention to detail. It’s amazing.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What’s sets me apart from others is that I treat each client as if I’m that client. In my mind, I’m going on vacation with them. What would I like to get out of my Travel Expert? What would I like to do on my vacation? How will this experience “wow” me? I also pride myself in not being an agent. An agent can book you, retrieve your payments, make your payment to the supplier, and send invoices. I’m more than that. I’m the Travel Advisor, Travel Planner and Travel Expert. In addition to your destination, I will inform you of places of interest nearby, excursions, ratings of resorts, cruise ships or hotels. I give information on the best time to travel to that location, current weather report, and the quality of food. I also check for flight for delays or to make sure the clients are actually on the flight. Lastly, I’m available during the entire trip. I’m with my clients, virtually, from the moment they leave home until the moment they return.

I’ve learned that this system works effectively with my clients. Because of the quality care and dedication, I have retention clients who highly recommend me to their family and friends. My business has grown by leaps and bounds. This system is not easy nor for the faint at heart, but if you keep at it and find your niche, it becomes easier.

Segway to niche: I had to learn the hard way that having a niche is needed in the travel industry. You can’t do EVERYTHING and guarantee quality to your clients. In the beginning, every time the phone rang, my answer was “yes”. Epic fail! So, I found my niche and I teach this to my agents. I have an Economy Cruise Agent that only handles three suppliers. I have a Premium Cruise Agent that only handles cruises of that sector. I handle Luxury and International Travel. I do not believe in “Jack of All Trades”-LOL. I’m a Master at my niche. I do not handle ALL travel/cruises/trips. I handle the ones that I can excel, master, and give quality results.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is easy because my best friend lives in Florida and she visits a few times a year. One of the best places to dine is Pappadeaux because she love sea food and steak like I do. I know the history of the Pappadeaux brand so I must enlighten her on the story.

She has the option of staying with me (which she will choose), or The Marriott. I love the Marriott and all of its chains. I will recommend the Renaissance, The Marriott, or Residence INN because although she is not bringing the grandchildren, she is staying a week. The Residence will give her the feel of home.

Music is not far behind. Going to VII Kitchen and Kocktails is a must! The amazing food, the live music, and the entertainment will have her dancing on a full stomach.

Deep Ellum, a hidden jewel of Dallas, is epic! It’s east of downtown Dallas, but without all the hustle and bustle. Similar to downtown St. Louis, Deep Ellum has several cobblestone streets, she’ll definitely love. Her appreciation for beautiful fish is beyond me, but I’m a team player. So, I must take her to Dallas World Aquarium. I admit, it is beautiful, and you will feel like you’re literally “under the sea”. Strolling the streets and looking at the murals is what makes this city magical, including riding the Drinking Bike down the street with several “new” friends.

She will refuse to leave until we stop at Uncle Julio’s in Allen (next to the strip mall, of course) and get the best Mexican food ever. She loves the bacon-wrapped shrimp, so this is the perfect place. Lastly, I live in an unknown “Diamond” called Anna, TX. She will not board a plane unless we stop off at downtown Anna and she gets her catfish from Crow’s. I will have my “Crow’s Feet” which consists of loaded fries. A true lip-smacker!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I give credit to my mother, the late Beulah Russell, for pushing me towards my dream. When I was scared to jump out there, she encouraged me. God utilized her to give me the confirmation. She told me to pray and seek counsel from Him. My mother was my cheerleader and I’m forever thankful for that love and encouragement.

I give credit to my amazing spouse and best friend. When I’m in doubt or when I think about quitting, Lou gives me the pep-talk I need to persevere. Lou invested in my dream, watered the plants of this business, and is beside me on day-to-day decisions. The support is beyond appreciated.

I give a huge shout out to other Travel Advisors and Agency Owners who are great friends of mine. We bounce ideas off each other to determine what will help or hinder our business(es). We value each other’s opinions, and we are not in competition with each other. It’s great to have that Circle.
Thank you to Professional Travel Agents of North America (PTANA), PJ Douglas-Sands of Money Makers Mindset and my Coach, Shanterria of The Travel Gang, and my “Dream Team” Agency (Stephanie, Rodney, and Margie) for keeping me on my toes, making sure that I stay in the loop with webinars, weekly meetings, coaching, seminars and events. I thank you all so much for your mentorship and guidance.

Website: www.rltravels.com

Instagram: instagram.com/RLTravels2SuitU

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/free-renee-louviere-cta-ecc-b369b635/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RLTravels

Yelp: https://biz.yelp.com/biz_info/LNsfNorBI43AS9jwyI7PuA

Youtube: https://bit.ly/RLTravels-YouTube

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