Jennifer Jacob
Dominica
COO & Co-Founder of @tiquehq 💻 Founder of @explorateurtravel ✈️ Travel obsessed 🌍 Lover of 🍷& hotels
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As I fly home from the @travelagewest Wave Awards in L.A., I can’t help but do a little self reflection on the last 6 years as a business owner. Come to think of it, I once wrote a blog post on how luck had nothing to do with Explorateur’s growth. How naive? Ever since America’s abrupt departure from Afghanistan, I’ve realized that luck has laid a heavier hand on my life than I ever gave credit. I’m lucky to have been born to a family who believes in me. I’m lucky to have had hard working parents that believe in grit and a moral compass. I’m lucky to have been given a brother who gives the best advice and cheers me on, even when I make crazy decisions. I’m lucky to have grown up in a city with a great education system. I’m lucky to have met my business partner, @robinb.bradley, and had the chance to ride the wave of the past 6 years together. I’m lucky to grow up in a time that values a female opinion. I’m lucky to be from a country that, not only operates under democracy, but that allows their citizens more freedoms than we tend to recognize. I’m lucky to have been from a society where changing your life path, is an option- which is also exactly how I timing allowed for me to meet @jrperez9. Yes, I’m fortunate. I’m fortunate that I was able to find a way to combine this recipe and combine it with personal resilience. However, many don’t have the luck. It’s just not in the cards and they don’t have access to education, freedoms to create, or a chance to share an opinion. None of this is lost on me, and it easy to feel that what we do as travel advisors can feel trivial. I’d like to argue that’s not the case. Many times, we are the gatekeepers to empathy, culture and understanding through way of global exposure. I hope that I’ve helped someone who never even imagined flying to another continent, experience a piece of something that changed them forever. To put my thoughts simply, I feel lucky to have been given an opportunity to have opportunity.
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Because of my career, sometimes I end up places that I know practically nothing about. I’ll admit this was one of those scenarios. Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-eek-kah) is a small island just south of Antigua and north of St. Lucia. It’s commonly confused with Dominican Republic due to name similarities, but they’re incredibly different. If you’re curious to know more… read on, because I’ve listed my top takeaways that surprised me most: 1️⃣ It is the most mountainous island in the Caribbean and is incredibly lush (much of our drives looked like scenes from Jurassic Park). 2️⃣ You could visit a new river every day of the year (365 in total on the island, and that doesn’t count the streams). There is also a boiling lake that’s heated by a volcano and can only be reached by food, thermal springs, and waterfalls. 3️⃣ It is one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world and is known for adventure-based tourism. 4️⃣ It used to be known for the majority of the world’s bananas, but most of the banana plantations have since been abandoned. 5️⃣ It was hit hard by hurricane Maria and is still in recovery, as a lot of the islands faced. My driver (whose home fell victim to the storm) said, “it wasn’t a hurricane… it was a monster.” In fact, the hotel we visited had to be fully rebuilt after the hurricane. The owner himself was rescued from his home by helicopter after wading through mud with broken ribs to find his family. I’m in awe of the love that the locals have for their island. One man told me that he’s never left, not even for vacation. I asked him his favorite spot on the island and answered “no favorite… it’s all good.” I can’t disagree with him… it was all good.
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Just gonna have a little virtual heart to heart with anyone out there reading this. Some days are better than others. Yesterday was one of the “others.” The travel world looks glamorous and full of Champagne and epic views (okay, so those are the better days), but the low days tend to be lower than low. I realize we’re not curing cancer, but we are entrusted with the weight of creating lifelong memories for clients with their hard-earned income and PTO days. The reality is that we can’t be everywhere or control everything. In fact, right now is harder than ever. Service levels are lower than they’ve ever been, while pricing is higher. The anticipation on long-awaited trips can create, dare I say, a manic response when anything goes wrong. They say it’s not personal, it’s business. That may be ok for some, but not for me. My business is personal. I think anyone who knows me, knows that… and I’m pretty sure @jrperez9 is sick of my ringer being on the loudest volume every night. Explorateur survived a pandemic with 13 amazing advisors intact, and that’s something I’m incredibly proud of. For those looking to travel, our promise is to do everything we can to make each day of your vacation exactly how you envisioned it… but we also have to maintain perspective that our clients have chosen to travel in a pandemic and expectations must be managed. Some would say people shouldn’t be traveling at all. However, if you do choose to travel, we recommend booking through an advisor to know how to actually get into your destination (and how to travel safely). If you can’t even start your vacation due to improper preparation, you’d realize that service levels are the least of the concerns. As always, we’ll be here doing all that we can to help you experience the world. Oh… and check your passport expiration date NOW. That’s all.
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