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Last year at ASTA’s annual conference, Dr. Terika L. Haynes, CEO and founder of Dynamite Travel, was named the 2023 ASTA Travel Advisor of the Year.

“Being named the 2023 ASTA Travel Advisor of the Year has been life changing,” Haynes said. “Winning the award shortly after COVID was confirmation for me. If I would have given up as an advisor and given up on the travel industry, I would not have won this award. The award means that I'm exactly where I need to be and everything that I've gone through up to this point was for this exact season.”

Taking home this title is no doubt something to be proud of, and it certainly signifies a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Let’s take a look back at what set the stage and led Haynes down the path of success. 

Haynes joined the exciting world of travel in 2008 and worked as a part-time travel advisor while also holding a full-time job as a college professor. In 2017, she transitioned to working as a full-time travel advisor.

“I've always had a passion for travel and decided to act on it by servicing and educating others so that they could experience a passion similar to mine,” Haynes said, adding that helping her clients experience new things is one of her favorite parts of the job. “Whether it be a first time traveling together as a couple or a family or a first time traveling to a new country, I love being the trusted connector between the client and a new experience.”

A few years before even taking the leap to work as a full-time advisor, Haynes’ travel business was already starting to take off, and social media marketing played a huge factor in this success, especially Twitter. Her business continued to accelerate as she began working full time, explaining that the extra time spent listening to the demands of the market and sharpening her skills aided in her growth.

Another aspect that aids in her success is traveling. Haynes believes traveling is a crucial aspect for advisors, and it leads to attaining important industry knowledge and building connections.

“I am also a firm believer that connections are priceless,” Haynes said. “Traveling gives me the opportunity to personally connect with my peers, brand leaders, frontline personnel and community gems. This, in turn, helps me to provide my clients with stellar customer service that will exceed their expectations.”

  Haynes connects with business partners in San Francisco. (photo via  Dr. Terika L. Haynes)

As for what she sells most, Haynes focuses on luxury Caribbean vacations but also has her eye on becoming an expert in expedition cruising. According to Haynes, there is value in having a specialization, but it’s also important to keep an eye on market demands and be willing to adjust your business as needed. 

Over the past few years, Haynes also added the titles of expert contributor and travel journalist to her roster. One of her goals is to continue working as a journalist, as she finds it helps her grow as a travel advisor. “I'd love to also do more video journalism work and podcasts,” Haynes said. “Additionally, I want to continue inspiring the masses after my award tenure by doing more speaking engagements.”

Haynes explained that her award is much bigger than herself. “Being named Travel Advisor of the Year has been inspiring to so many people, especially those from diverse backgrounds,” she said. “It reminds us all to dream big, work hard and be resilient! I am so grateful that this award has given me the opportunity to be visible in a manner that I can further educate and inspire not only travel advisors, but other industry professionals and travelers as well.”

Haynes’ Advice for New Advisors

  1. Your journey is your own. It can be easy to look at what others are doing and compare yourself. Focus on your own journey and on being your best self and everything will happen as it's supposed to.
  2. Making connections can be as important as traditional training. Don't forget to connect (in your own way) everywhere you go. The connections you make will be invaluable to you and your business.
  3. Celebrate every accomplishment, big and small and memorialize each one.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of The Compass magazine.

About the Author

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Codie Liermann is the managing editor of The Compass. She began her career in the industry as a travel advisor prior to working as an editor. With a passion for creating valuable content for travel advisors, she aims to develop meaningful relationships with all types of travel companies in order to share their unique messages with the travel agency community.


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