Jacob Marek believes that travel has the power to profoundly change our perspective of the world. While on a remote hiking trail in Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah, his own worldview was shattered when he realized that his career in finance was simply not fulfilling his need for a life of travel, adventure, and nature.
He was all alone in one of the country’s most stunning national parks, surrounded by nothing—and everything—while the absence of stimuli allowed his overactive introvert brain to spend the next several days pondering what, exactly, he should do with his life.
Marek realized he needed a life that was full of travel, nature, and a bit of adventure. And so the idea of IntroverTravels was born.
He says that as a travel advisor, he now spends six months a year traveling the world as an “Entreprenomad,” building his portfolio in unique, off-the-beaten-path locations that incorporate elements of nature, culture, and/or history—places that are absolutely perfect for introverted Travel Nerds.
What inspired you to join the travel industry as a travel advisor?
I have a travel marketing background, so it wasn’t a giant leap into becoming a travel advisor. Having seen and read about the trends of niche travel agencies taking off, I felt that a.) That looks like fun! and b.) I bet I could do that too!
How long have you been in the travel industry?
I got my start in travel marketing straight out of college, in early 2006. I was representing foreign tourism boards and international DMCs and tour operators. With a short detour in finance, I have spent most of my career in the travel industry.
Where do you see yourself as a travel advisor five years from now?
It’s funny you ask about five years, as I have a “Five Year Plan” of my own. which I started in 2016, to get my business off the ground. In that time, I envision IntroverTravels as a small, lean team of 3-5 employees or contractors who can help me scale the business. I’d love to have one specialist for each region in which I want to focus (The Americas, Africa, and Asia/Pacific).
What do you think Millennial-age travel advisors have brought to the industry? Millennial travel advisors bring a breath of fresh air into the industry! I am continually inspired by young entrepreneurs who see the thrill in finding your tribe and really honing in on that niche. Millennials bring a creative mind to travel; they are able to create a wide range of travel styles in an industry that is sometimes slow to create innovative types of experiences, and they are often extremely savvy in knowing who and how to arrange these unique experiences.
How do you think the industry can continue to attract younger travel advisors?
I think it’s important that we show young people the lucrative and fulfilling career path of being a travel advisor. Many of these youngsters are already traveling; let’s show them that they can use those experiences now to create a fulfilling career for themselves in the future!
What motivates Millennial travelers and do you think there’s a tendency for Millennial-age travelers to seek out Millennial-age travel advisors and if so, why? Millennials tend to be motivated mostly by uniqueness and a bit of travel envy. The word “authentic” I think tends to get thrown around too often, but Millennials want to experience the world through the eyes of a local; if there is a scenic, “Instagrammable” image to go along with it—all the better!
How does the form in which you communicate with your Millennial-age clients differ from how your older counterparts communicate?
Unsurprisingly, Millennials certainly prefer text and e-mail compared to older clients, who clearly value phone calls and in-person appointments. When they are actually on their trip, we’ll often communicate on apps like Whatsapp or Skype, where Boomers, for example, will e-mail me from the road.
Are you starting to sell to the Gen Z demographic (those in their early 20s) and if so, how is that different from how you sell – in terms of their expectations – to the Millennial demographic? I don’t have any personal experience working with the Gen Z market. Is this how the Boomers feel about Millennials!? I don’t think I understand Gen Z yet. LOL