When is the last time you took a vacation? A real vacation to unplug and get away? If it has been more than a year or two it has been too long. Our guest today, Sarah Groen, shares why you need to make sure you are taking a regular vacation.
About Our Guest
**Visit Sarah’s travel company Bell & Bly Travel: https://bellandblytravel.com/
**Subscribe to Sarah’s Podcast, “Luxury Travel Insider”: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/luxury-travel-insider/id1531431418
Sarah is a Houston-based travel advisor, entrepreneur and investor.
After earning a finance degree from UT Austin, Sarah started her career as an M&A analyst. This led her to the Stanford GraduateSchool of Business where she earned an MBA and focused on leadership and entrepreneurship. Sarah co-founded SURGEAccelerator, the first business accelerator in Houston’s history, and later launched and led UberEATS in Houston and Phoenix. After a couple of successes and one failed venture, Sarah finally decided to merge her two main passions – business and TRAVEL, and Bell & Bly Travel emerged.
Bell & Bly Travel serves a very specific clientele – Investors, Executives, and successful Entrepreneurs and works to help make sure they get the very best out of life’s experiences through meticulous travel planning, access to ungoogleable experiences, and staying on track for long term experience goals.
In addition, Sarah hosts the top podcast on luxury travel, Luxury Travel Insider.
This episode is powered by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):
You’ve worked hard to build your business. And now it’s time to grow. Welcome to the multiply your success podcast. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team and a serial entrepreneur. And the purpose of our podcast is to give you a weekly dose of inspiration and education to help you multiply your success. And as we open our episode today, I want to ask you about the last time you took a real vacation. When was it? Did you truly unplug from your business and get away? Well, our guest today is Sarah Groen and she’s a corporate executive turned entrepreneur to help busy business leaders just like you, book great vacations and time away to really get away. And her suggestions, comments, nuggets of information are absolutely brilliant. You’re going to want to hear this and why you need to make sure you’re taking regular vacations. So let’s go ahead and jump right into our interview with Sarah.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (01:05):
I’m Sarah Groen. I own a company called Bell & Bly Travel and I also run a podcast called Luxury Travel Insider. And so what we do is at Bell & Bly Travel, we like to be in addition to our clients’ professional management team or personal management team. So somewhat like your wealth advisor or maybe your attorney or your accountant or your personal trainer, but a lot more fun than all of those folks. Because what we find is that our clients who are busy professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, investors, that people who have very limited time, don’t really think forward and think ahead in terms of the experiences that they want to have with their families and their friends, which really is the richness of life, right? So they’re thinking about managing their money for the next 40 years, but not necessarily about managing their experiences. So we try to fill that advisor role and then the nuts and bolts of it is that we plan fantastic trips for our clients as well.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (02:00):
So it’s like, okay, let’s think about what you want to accomplish with your family over the next three to five years and just have a high level plan. And then let’s plan just your quick getaway to Mexico, your amazing bucket list safari trip, a trip to Japan because you’re really into the culture there or you want your kids to learn in real life, what they’re learning in school. So we’ll do a trip to DC and have some insider access to something that they’re really interested in or whatever it is around the world that you’re into.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:29):
Wow. Amazing. And travel is always fascinating to me. And I probably fall into that category of busy business owners that don’t get away enough and should. But out of curiosity, how did you end up in this space? Kind of prepping for the interview here, you have a fantastic corporate career too. So talk a little bit about that and how you ended up into the travel business.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (02:58):
Yeah. So I was that person. I still kind of am. I still have to be really disciplined with myself too, to take vacation and time away because for me traveling now isn’t vacation. I usually travel with my work. So I also have to kind of discipline myself in that way. But yeah, I had a corporate career before. I was a typical finance major out of undergrad in investment banking and private equity. I went to one of the top business schools in the country for my MBA. I’m based in Houston. I moved back to Houston, I started in tech investing, starting an accelerator to invest in energy software startups. I worked in energy for a bit. And then my biggest claim to fame in Houston is that I ran Uber Eats here. We were the third city in the world to launch so I can be thanked or hated for that dinner in our city.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (03:47):
So I did a lot of different stuff before, which was really kind of a nice training grounds for starting my own business. Now travel was always my passion and I had it in my mind that I couldn’t do anything in travel for my work. It was sort of a limiting belief that I held. And after I left Uber, I was looking for a business to buy because I thought at this point in time in my life if I’m going to work this hard, it’s going to be for myself. But I looked at all kinds of different stuff like logistics, franchises, wedding venues, all different kinds of things, and then ended up having none of them really work out. I did a bunch of investing during that time period, but nothing that I wanted to put my time into.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (04:30):
And I started planning, travel on the side for some of my business school classmates, some now CEOs of really famous tech companies. And it was fun. And I didn’t know what I was doing. It was really difficult at the time. And then some of the other things I was working on just kept falling through, which maybe we’ll get to. So at a certain point, I was like, you know what, maybe I can do this for real. And let me put a little bit of money and six months of effort into it and to see if there really is product market fit here. And as soon as I did, it sort of exploded. People I knew from my network, which was really important going into this immediately were like, of course that makes total sense. You’re the person we always thought to ask about travel and now you’re actually doing it professionally. So it just kind of took off from there.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:18):
Wow. So what do you think it was where people just knew you were the travel go-to travel person? What do you think that was?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (05:26):
Well, I’m just nuts about travel. I’ve been to a hundred countries and all seven continents. And so I was constantly traveling. So it was just, I also had a travel Instagram for fun and that kind of thing. So yeah, I was just the most well-traveled of all my friends so I always ended up fielding the questions.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:42):
Okay. So you were that natural. You’ve kind of been the you’ve been everywhere person. So they said, hey, we’re going to ask Sarah where to go.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (05:52):
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:53):
That’s really neat. And I love your company name and the history behind it. So I’d just love for you to share about your company name and where that came from for the listeners here.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (06:05):
Yeah. So the company name again, is Bell & Bly travel. So it’s named after two female explorers. I was kind of looking around in the market and there’s a lot of two name companies, travel companies, Abercrombie & Kent, and old British sounding names, Kensington Travel, and that kind of thing where I thought they’re named after two guy explorers. Turns out Abercrombie & Kent, Abercrombie is made up I believe and Kent is the founder’s last name. So I was a little bit wrong, but I thought I don’t want to name it after myself, but I’ll name it after two sort of inspiring explorers so they’re two explorers in the late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds. Gertrude Bell, who is sometimes known as the female Lawrence of Arabia, which is maybe not a great analogy because she was in fact much more learned than Lawrence of Arabia.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (06:54):
And she traveled around in what are now the Arab countries with Bedouins, by herself, learning about all the tribes and the British army actually conscripted her. And she was one of the people who helped draw the lines in the middle east. They call her the king maker. She was almost forced out of her life of exploration to go help with this. And she weighed in on who are the tribes that have the most power and that kind of thing.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (07:20):
And the families were chosen after that to manage or to rule the different middle Eastern countries now, but at the time were British. And then the other one is Nellie Bly, who was actually a journalist for, I think the New York Post, but a New York publication of some sort and the books Around the World in 72 Days came out, Around the World in 80 Days, sorry, came out and it was a fiction book and she thought I think I can do it faster than that. So she did it herself and did it in 72 days. And she was writing about it the entire time, sending it back to the journal for stories.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:59):
Incredible. I think for me when I read that little history and your explanation is even better and just more rich. I appreciate it. It really helps embody to me what you’re doing. There’s such a great story. And when I think about great travel, you’re creating such a great experience for a great memory for yourself or your friends or family, whomever you may be traveling with at that moment. So I love that you have a great story behind your name as well. And well, one thing that I’d love to jump into for if I’m listening in and I am, I’m an active prospective customer here for you. So how would you suggest for that busy executive, that busy entrepreneur who maybe thinks of vacationing or getting away as less important than some of the other things that they might be working on, what are some steps and things you might suggest to kind of get them going in into that mindset?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (09:04):
That’s an interesting question. I mean, at the end of the day, I’m not really here to change anyone’s minds, but we do have so many stats about the value of travel. So I guess I’ll just start there. I mean, first of all, there’s millions and millions of vacation days that are wasted by Americans per year. So, I mean, if you’re a finance major or an accountant, or you’ve cared about that in your life, you’re essentially working for free if you’re not taking those days. So maybe my finance friends, I can convince you with that. So either if you’re not going to take vacation, ask for more pay and stay in the office, but if you’re not going to do that, then take the days off. The other thing is that travel is one of several activities, but one really interesting and poignant way to get a lot of benefits like neuroplasticity in your brain.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (09:57):
That happens when you have experiences that create dense memories. And you can think about it in your own life. Think about when you’ve traveled and how you remember those things really well. And then try to think about four Tuesdays ago, and you can’t remember anything. It’s because you’re putting yourself in a different experience, in a different locality, with different languages and all of that, that it really challenges your brain. So it’s not just good for you to take a break and to relax. Although there are tons of benefits, stress-related benefits around that. It’s also good for your brain. Good for your creativity. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need that. Right? So that’s, I mean, just a couple of reasons why I think people should put it at the forefront of their mind. And then, because I have clients who are this type of person, at the beginning of our relationship, we do what we call a discover call.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (10:43):
So that’s talking through everything about the client, their family, getting to know them really well. And I can tell you if you’re interested, why we care about that stuff later, but all I want to say is that I’ve done hundreds of these calls with busy executives and entrepreneurs. And oftentimes what it is, is just not planning in advance. It’s not that they don’t want to travel. It’s either not planning in advance. So by the time it happens, by the time they’re like, oh crap, we have some summer vacation time. There’s really nothing at the level that these folks want to travel at available. Luxury travel will book out much sooner than budget travel. The other one is, I’ll see entrepreneurs or executives going to the same place over and over again. And when I dig into why did you go to the One and Only Palmilla? Yeah, it’s a great place. But why have you gone there every year for the last four years?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (11:33):
The answer is, well, we love it, which is amazing, but it’s not that only. We’re too scared to waste our precious vacation time on something that we’re not quite sure about. Maybe we’ll try something new and then we’ll hate it and we’ll have wasted our one week of vacation in the summer with the kids. And that is a time to pull in a professional, right? You don’t do the same workout routine every single day, because you’re scared that you might not build your quads. You have a trainer who helps you say, look actually, you really need to be working on your lower back to protect your lower back so that you can lift heavier in your quads or whatever the analogy is. Right?
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:12):
Yeah. Well, I think that’s a really great point. And I’ve found myself vacationing in same destination many times. And for that exact reason, when I really get down to it, it’s, well, I don’t want to run the risk of going to some destination that just winds up being a dud for pick a number of reasons why. And so I’m really interested in this three to five-year plan you mentioned earlier and how you kind of help your clients through that process or that planning process, I guess, that you kind of go through to get prepared for that. What does something like that generally look like?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (12:50):
So when new clients come in, they’re generally reaching out because they have a particular trip in mind. And so we want to respect that. We don’t want to say, oh, okay, let’s stop, stop, stop. Let’s plan a five-year plan. Right? So we’ll work with them to plan that trip. That process is, client comes in, they send us some information about what they’re thinking about and then we do that discover call. So I’m asking those detailed questions, like, what hobbies are your kids into? What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any passions outside of work? What do you do for work and why? Do you like it? Do you enjoy it? Is there something interesting about it? We’re asking all those questions because we customize trips for our clients. We don’t do anything off the shelf. Everything is bespoke.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (13:26):
And it’s a way for us to make sure that we’re matching the trip to what they’re really interested in. So your son or daughter might be reading these amazing mythology books in Greece. And so we can tailor a tour with a guide who is excellent with kids who will talk specifically about the characters in that book and the mythology surrounding it, or your daughter is really into ballet. So we’re doing a trip somewhere in Europe or maybe to Russia. So we’re going to try to find a way for her to get access to meeting some ballerinas behind the scenes or behind the stage for that. So we’re kind of customizing these activities based on what people like. So that’s why we go super deep on that. Of course we talk through what their vision is for the trip, why they want to travel, all kinds of other things.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (14:16):
And then we move into a design phase and I won’t bore you with the other phases of our planning process, but we plan these fantastic trips and help everything go smoothly when the folks are traveling. Then for clients who are wanting this, we roll out what we call a client experience portfolio. And that’s where we take everything we’ve learned about you in the planning process and the execution process for this first trip and ask you a few more questions and kind of lay out all your milestones that you have coming up for the next three to five years. You have this high school graduation, this wedding anniversary, your 40th birthday, 50th birthday, or whatever it is. And these are all the countries you’ve been to on a really nice map. And these are the places that you’ve told us are on your bucket list.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (15:01):
Given what we know about you, we think you should also consider these destinations and here’s a loose five-year plan that you might consider. And then we’ll get feedback from clients on that plan. And then we stick it in our team calendar. So it says 18 months from the trip that this family wants to take to the Galapagos over Christmas, or maybe it’s 20 months, we reach out and say, hey, we need to plan 18 months in advance. Are you still interested in this trip? We’re there then to remind you so you don’t have to be thinking about it that far in advance.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:31):
Yeah. So that’s really interesting because it seems like with all things you made a great comparison with planning, financial planning and even just health planning. This is the same concept. If you’re planning, magically, these things get done. I think you’re onto something there and it seems to be working for you. So I guess as I think about vacation, I’m just curious, is there a kind of a best way to get away and vacation? Is there a best way to do it? Do you have any suggestions in something like that?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (16:06):
Yeah. I mean, that’s not a fair question I don’t think Tom, because it’s different for everybody, right? So that’s why we spend so much time getting to know people up front because we will have clients from two different generations, millennials and boomers spend the exact same amount on a trip, but want to spend it in a completely different way. It’s a lot of our millennial clients want an amazing suite with a great view and sick top hotel. And then they don’t really want a lot of touring. They want our really awesome experiences that you can’t get just online, some wow experiences maybe, and then a lot of time to explore on their own. And then we might have another client who says we don’t want to stay in a high-end hotel or we do, but we want to stay in the lowest room category because we don’t want to put our budget there.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (16:53):
We want the best guides. We want an Egyptologist to have dinner with us by the pyramids. And we want to pack the itinerary and be with somebody who’s super knowledgeable the entire time. So there’s no one right way. And I also like to say, I mean, we say we’re luxury travel advisors because we do plan at the high end of budgets, but there is no standard set of what luxury means today. It used to mean a massive palace hotel with a huge vase of flowers when you walk in and marble everywhere and 400 rooms and butler service. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that, it means we’re going to stay at a small boutique hotel in Florence, but we’re going to privatize the Uffizi gallery at night and get a tour with a curator or even in not as crazy ways. It just means having a great guide in Iceland, you’re solo traveling, but he or she’s your friend and you get to go with them to their village and meet some of their friends or their family on the way. So it means something different to everybody.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:53):
Yeah. That’s great. And thank you for sharing that. And you had me at Egyptologist, I think was the word you said. So it reminds me, I remember to your point, it just got me thinking of when I was in sixth grade, I remember learning about the ancient Egyptians and was mesmerized and said that’s a bucket list place to go to see the pyramids and see all the wonderful history. So I thought, yeah, that dinner with that Egyptologist sounds fantastic to me. So I’m interested. Anyway, well, you answered a question that I was thinking of too, thinking about length of vacations budgets, destination. So it’s really, it’s customized based on that person coming through as my understanding.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (18:38):
Yeah. So every travel advising company will do things a little bit different. I want to work with families or individuals or couples who we can work with over the longterm. Right? My goal is we do that big conversation upfront, the next time maybe you’re bringing your kids and the last time was a couple of trip. So we maybe do another 30 minute call to talk more about the kids. The next time we maybe do a 10 minute call, we get better and better at knowing you. We don’t have to take as much of your time for every trip. So the value in working with us is the long-term relationship, we don’t really want to be doing anything commoditized, if that makes sense.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:15):
It does. Yeah, no, it does. It’s really interesting. I’ve got three kids in grade school right now. We’ve kind of talked about the places the kids are interested in maybe going to. They want to go to this national park or a theme park or all the different things that they’re interested in and whatever it might be. So I definitely relate. And you can do this basically for your clients, which you’re saying for that busy entrepreneur, for that busy executive, you can take and manage the whole process from start to finish from discovery, planning, coordinating, and being on call during the actual vacation. Is that correct?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (19:55):
Yeah, it’s actually even better than that. On call during your vacation to Europe wouldn’t do much good if you needed something from us in the middle of the night. So we actually have partners on the ground in every country that we work with. So at this level of travel, you’ll have somebody in your country who you can call if you need something, if there’s a train strike or something like that. So yeah, there is a level of [inaudible 00:20:21] service, but it’s even better than relying on me, it’s somebody in country, in time zone who can get things done faster.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:27):
Wow. Phenomenal, phenomenal. Well, thank you for sharing all of that. And what I’d love to do is take some time here and jump into our formula for the show and talk about the misses, makes and multipliers. So we always start first with the misses and get the maybe bad memory out of the way first. So if you wouldn’t mind sharing a miss or two along the way and something you learned from it.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (20:54):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s so many misses, right? I’ve done so many, even not in a huge period of time, but so many different things. And I mean, we could do a whole show on misses, I think, but one of the biggest ones is actually also interesting because it led me to, I don’t want to call it a career rock bottom, but it led me to rethink the way I was thinking about things and ended up starting this business. So it was a huge blessing it turned out to be. But I was actually post working at Uber when I was in that period of doing investing, I did work on a deal that was a franchise. I had negotiated the rights to franchise out the entire Atlanta market for, I won’t say the name of the company, but it was in the family entertainment space and it was a big box.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (21:44):
So I was going to be leasing out 30 to 50,000 square feet in multiple locations across Atlanta. And there was a problem with the lease on our first location and it wasn’t coming through and it passed the period where I was able to kind of get out of it. And I said, you know what? I don’t think this is the right location. I’m going to just get out of this one and move because the landlord isn’t cooperating or isn’t able to get the permissions that they need. I’m going to get out of this and just do a different area in Atlanta. And when I did the franchise [Or 00:22:17] was not happy and did not take my side and didn’t care about what was best for the business decision for our business, only cared about how it would look to that landlord because they were a national landlord.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (22:30):
Now the landlord was in breach of contract. So as far as I was concerned, it was a completely smart business decision, but I wasn’t told by the franchise Or until after I made it. They didn’t indicate that they were going to flip their insert word. So anyway, basically the whole thing sort of failed spectacularly. I got out of it and the learning was, I had had some slight misgivings about the team, the franchise Or team before that. And one of them was because I knew how strict the laws were about how much information you’re supposed to give franchisees. And I was getting it all. I was getting lots of detail from other franchise Or on their business and their financials.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (23:20):
And so I had some already misgivings because I already knew they were kind of stepping over the line of the law and that kind of thing. And I went with it anyway. And I think the learning is trust your gut. The people that you’re working with are the most important thing. And so same in my business now. I don’t need every single trip. I don’t want to work with clients who are not respectful of me and my team and so I apply the same rules today, right? We want to work with amazing people that we can help have amazing experiences who value us as much as we value them.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:59):
Yeah. Well, it’s unfortunate you had that experience in franchising. Certainly that’s something that we try to advocate with our clients is to support those franchisees, help them out. That’s your job as a franchisor. So I’m sorry you had to go through that.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (24:16):
Well, it was a great learning experience like I said, and of course I had worked on it for a year and then having it fall through made me think, you know what? Maybe I should just focus on what I love and that’s how we got here today. So no complaints.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:32):
Absolutely. Well, let’s flip things on the other end and take a look at a make or two and something that you’d like to share with the audience.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (24:43):
Yeah. These ones are always harder for me, but let’s see. So I took notes on them because I knew I wouldn’t be able to come up with them on the spot otherwise. But in our first year at Bell & Bly Travel, we hit a million dollars in bookings. So I felt like that was a big win. I think a lot of first time travel advisors might do two to $400,000. So we were pretty excited about that. I had mentioned that I had launched Uber Eats here so I will say launching Uber Eats in Houston on that first day was a super proud moment. Uber Eats was a startup within Uber and it was crazy. I mean, we were just working night and day. People just think Uber, it’s like so easy, it’s an app. There is a team of operations people behind that who work like beasts to make all that stuff happen for you guys. So that was a nice day.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (25:40):
Yeah. I guess right after business school, when I came back, I also co-founded the first accelerator in Houston and that was really neat. It felt a little bit weird because in Silicon Valley where I had been in business school, there were many accelerators, but in Houston there weren’t any, and people didn’t really know what it was. We were on the front page of the Houston Business Journal and some other things and why I’m proud of it I think is not necessarily because of it itself, but it’s because then we gave our knowledge and our experience to Rice University, to University of Houston who started accelerators, had really good relationships with Houston Exponential, which is like a healthcare focused one. And so nobody really remembers who I am now, but I like to think I had a hand in helping grow the Houston entrepreneurial ecosystem to what it is today.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:29):
Yeah. That’s really cool. A lot of unique perspectives there that you’re coming at at different points in your career. Wow. Fantastic. And what about a multiplier? I always seem to be on a broken record this, but it’s my favorite question because we get the most diverse answers with it. So has there been a multiplier personally, professionally that you’ve used as you’ve grown and expanded?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (26:54):
Good. I’m glad they’re diverse because I was thinking man, my answers are so trite, aren’t these the same for everyone? Well, I mean in business, I mean certainly for me when I think multiplier it’s like how can a small amount of effort gather a lot of results and for us it’s partnerships. I kind of alluded to it, the folks that we have on the ground in different countries, I’ve been to a hundred countries. Yes. And that’s great. That means when we get on the phone and you tell me what you like and dislike, I can immediately be like you should consider this country, this country, this country, this country, I would miss this. We should look at this. It’s kind of like a Rolodex. It’s like, I’m a connector, but I’m connecting people with destinations based on what I know.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (27:31):
But when it comes to planning the trip, you don’t want my four year old knowledge from the last time I was in Positano for the restaurants or for what’s the most updated or refreshed hotel. In fact, you don’t even want your friend’s knowledge from two years ago when they went on a safari and they say, we stayed at this lodge and it was amazing, you have to stay here. That is super false. The lodges are changing all the time, the game and the wildlife is moving. If you’re in the Okavango Delta, for example, there might’ve been water at that lodge when your friend went two years ago and there’s no water there now, so you can have a terrible experience. So it’s those partnerships that I maintain around the world that answer those questions for us and allow us to give the best advice to our clients and they’re sometimes really our secret sauce. They allow us to be really, really good at what we do and bring in knowledge that you can’t necessarily always find online. So that’s one big business multiplayer.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:30):
Great. Thank you. Was there anything else you wanted to share? I didn’t mean to interrupt you there.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (28:34):
No, no. I mean, it’s up to you. I do have the podcast now, Luxury Travel Insider podcast, which I think is a top podcast on luxury travel and certainly the first authoritative one. And what I mean by authoritative is our guests are the owners or CEOs of the top luxury, either hotels or these partners on the ground in experts, in certain countries around the world. And why I say it’s a multiplier is because it’s just been so amazing to forge these connections with these folks, right? So now it’s not just that I have a partnership that a bunch of other travel advisors have, I have a actual friendship with these folks and I have an owner or someone high up at the company who I can reach out to if I have a client visiting. They offer our listeners special perks that… We always have special parks as travel advisors, but we get a few extra special perks.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (29:31):
And then of course it’s great for the clients. It’s so amazing. We always want to get our clients excited about their trips before they travel. There’s a lot of studies that say just the excitement leading up to a trip that’s already booked is almost gives you almost as much joy or more sometimes than the actual traveling. And so if I can say, hey you’re going to this spot in Santorini, check out my conversation with Marcos [inaudible 00:29:54], the owner of [foreign language 00:29:56]. His dad was the mayor of [inaudible 00:29:59]. And he tells this whole story about how his family really created the town into what it is today. And they can listen to it and they can enjoy it. It’s for me, it’s a win on all sides.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:10):
Yeah. Yeah. Wow. And I like how you said sometimes the anticipation leading up to the actual trip… I just resonate with that. I see that, especially in our kids, they get super pumped up, you see it physically manifest in them as they’re going through that, but yeah. And your podcast is fantastic. I love your podcast. I’ve listened to several episodes now and it’s really neat. It’s just an interesting perspective from, like you described, that local owner or that the person who’s there sharing about what’s unique and special about their location, their venue, whatever it is that you’re talking about with them. So I appreciate that. Yeah. Yeah. And we’ll make sure we post up in the show notes, the link directly to Luxury Travel Insider so that everyone can tune in and check it out. Well, Sarah, the final question we like to ask every guest is what does success mean to you?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (31:13):
That’s an interesting question. And I think I already mentioned, I started out as a finance person, right? So for a number of years, and I think I’m struggling to get out of this right now so it’s a moving target for me. Success for me was dollars, cents, number of hours worked. I like to call it investment banking guilt. If anybody has been an investment banking analyst and you’re forced to work there 90 hours a week or something, that’s where you get your level of success. It’s like who worked more, who did this, that kind of thing, who got a bigger bonus.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (31:47):
And I think that served me really well for a long period of time, but I’m trying to evolve to maybe a more mature definition of success that matters to me and is more suited to who I am, which is something more about learning? How much did I learn about the world today? Because it’s a passion of mine. Serving my team and my clients and happiness and it’s really hard to define. And as somebody who is so black and white for so long, I won’t say I’m successful at defining success in that way for myself quite yet, but I’m trying to kind of evolve into that focus.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:24):
Yeah, fair answer. And look, I’ve been listening to and asking so many guests along the way, for many people that I hear and kind of what you’re describing, it’s kind of a moving target over time. It kind of changes as you change and your career changes or your business grows or different things, life events happen that that might change your perspective on that. Well, Sarah, before we go, is there anything that you were hoping to say that you haven’t had a chance to say yet?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (32:56):
I mean, I think we’ve kind of touched on it. I just, I’m truly passionate about people having these life experiences and for those who are successful entrepreneurs or executives who are listening and who have families, I think it’s also really important to talk about the childhood experience of travel. I think it really shapes people and I know we’re all working so hard all the time. How can we raise our children, right? How can we give them the right experiences? And it’s school and it’s extracurriculars and activities and I don’t think people think about travel that much.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (33:29):
In the hundreds of interviews I’ve done with clients and on the podcast, oftentimes people who have the most introspection and the most perspective on the world are people who had their first taste of travel in their teens, which I think is really interesting. And someday I’m going to do a study on it. But as of now, you’ll have to take my anecdotal evidence from talking to hundreds of people. So it’s great for you, but it’s also really fantastic and amazing for kids to get a sense of the world to build that sense of tolerance, which is so important in the world that we live in today.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:03):
Absolutely. And how can someone track you down? How can they check out your website or if they’re interested in learning more or having a discovery call, how can they reach you?
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (34:13):
Yeah. So the websites bell&blytravel.com. We’ll put in the show notes for spelling reasons. I didn’t think about that when I named the company. And so on that website, there’s a trip link that says get started, so tell me all about your trip there, and then I’ll reach out and we’ll set up a discover call. I’m also at Sarah, Sarah with an h @bell&blytravel.com. And of course the podcast is Luxury Travel Insider wherever you get your podcasts.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:38):
Great. Well, thank you so much for being here, Sarah. I’m so grateful for your time.
Sarah Groen, Bell & Bly Travel (34:42):
Thanks Tom. It was a pleasure.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:44):
Sarah, thank you so much again for being a guest and being here on the show, and let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. And as you can imagine, our takeaways today are going to focus on vacationing and travel and getting away. So, number one, the number one takeaway is when she said, it’s good for your brain to get into a new environment. It just gets your brain working in a new way. And I know I’ve heard many times some of the greatest ideas in inventions and new businesses come from an idea that happened when you were away from what you do day to day. Number two key takeaway is when she said vacationing is what you make of it. It’s what you make of it. So get in the right mindset, plan it, get it ready. I thought that was a great takeaway.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:35):
And the third key takeaway that I liked from what she said is that success is how much she learned today. So tying that back to vacation and travel, when you’re traveling, you’re going to be learning a whole lot of new things. And so I thought that was a brilliant definition of success. And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win comes from early on in the episode when Sarah mentioned about having a limiting belief about having a career and vacationing or getting time away.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:13):
And I think I have seen that not only in myself, but in the business leaders and executives and business owners and entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with over the many years of doing this, that I would tend to agree that that’s a pretty common theme and thread that I see amongst all of them. So certainly not all, not every situation, but in most cases. So I think that if you can remove that limiting belief and really focus on taking some time away for you, that’s going to be a win for you and your personal health. It’s also going to convey to your team that it’s okay for them to do that as well, to get away and relax and come back recharged and ready for what’s next. And that’s the episode today folks, please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember if you or anyone might be ready to franchise their business, please connect with us bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in. And we look forward to having you back next week.