Sahara Rose De Vore of The Travel Coach Network On How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Really get to know your consumers on a personal level. Don’t assume that everyone enjoys the same type of experience. Travel means something different to everyone which is why you need to get to know your consumers on a more personal level to sculpt travel experiences that truly cater to their wants and needs. To do this, ask your consumers what it is that they need personally, health-wise, spiritually, emotionally, professionally, and/or in their homelife. Some people travel to strengthen their relationships, some travel to soul-search, and some travel to make new connections. To provide experiences that leave individuals satisfied with their trip, you have to understand what their mind is at and what they are seeking. If you have a business that targets a certain type of consumer, really get to know what their pain points are.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sahara Rose De Vore.

Sahara Rose De Vore is a Wellness Travel Coach and Consultant and the Founder of The Travel Coach Network. Sahara helps travelers both in and out of the corporate world use their travel experiences as a way to improve their overall wellbeing. Sahara Rose is a published author, global speaker, and has been seen in over 90 media outlets for her travel wellness expertise. You can find Sahara at https://thetravelcoachnetwork.com/.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up as an only child to a single mom. We could hardly afford to keep food in the cabinets, let alone see the world. Therefore, travel seemed so far out of reach for someone like myself. Plus, no one in our family or community was a traveler. Our idea of traveling was family road trips from the north of the U.S to the south Texas to visit my grandmother’s family near Mexico but, I was so young that I only remember bits and pieces of those adventures. I had a wanderlust soul and no idea where it came from.

I have always had an artistic eye so every time that I would see beautiful photos of lush green rainforests and colorful tropical birds in Costa Rica and other incredible places around the world, I was simply in awe. I saw movies with sky-high waterfalls and the most stunning white sand beaches. I knew that there was a whole world out there that I needed to explore but, how could I ever make that happen?

Well, I was determined to and I did.

When I graduated over a decade ago from university with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, I was very underwhelmed by the lack of diversity in career options. At the age of 22 I was unsure of the life that I wanted to have and what my passions were. I was struggling with anxiety and bouts of depression and knew that whatever it was that I was going to do with my life, I wanted it to bring me happiness, purpose, and I wanted to make an impact on the lives of others and the world.

I decided to take a very unconventional route and ignore what pressures society and family were placing on me. I booked a one-way ticket to Europe, packed a suitcase, and set off to find the answers that I was looking for.

I wound up falling in love with how much travel was helping and healing me that I spent over a ten years traveling on and off to over 84 countries by the age of 31.

The first half of my worldly adventure was the most difficult. The amount of travel resources, tools, and technology was limited. I remember traveling with a flip phone, paying to use internet wherever I could find a computer, and using a paper map to navigate around new cities.

Throughout the years, I got hands on experience with shifts in the travel industry. Talking with other travelers and having my own experiences, I learned what travelers used, liked, desired, and didn’t like. I also learned what problems, voids, and shortages existed in the travel industry and for travelers. Being a millennial in the mist of the rise of social media, it shown a light on how and why people were traveling as well as the growing desire for more freedom-based jobs.

Despite having a degree in tourism and years of traveling under my belt, I struggled for many years trying to figure out what travel-related career I wanted. I was aware of what existed; travel agents, booking managers, working for a company that paid me to travel for business, becoming a blogger, or growing my social media to become an influencer just to get free trips.

I wanted to do and be some more. I believed that my travel experiences, skills, knowledge, and perspectives were far more valuable and impactful than what I was told I could use them for.

I knew that since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I had to create it myself.

That is when I decided to become a travel coach and specialize in helping business travelers and corporate employees have better and more meaningful travel experiences while bringing a fresh take on wellness travel

I am also pioneering the path for other ambitious and passionate travelers who desire to become certified travel coaches. I founded The Travel Coach Network™ because I wanted a place for travel coaches around the world to connect with other like-minded travel coaches and experts, list their business and niche, and for people and companies to find and hire a travel coach. I designed and accredited the very first travel coach certification program to make their journey easier and clearer as a travel coach and entrepreneur.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Like many other companies, my businesses grew new legs during 2020. Business owners had to pivot in different directions to stay afloat and some even soared by doing this. The interesting thing for me was that I didn’t have to pivot in either of my businesses but rather, my unique niches really worked in my favor. My network of international travel coaches grew last year because travel experts were looking for new ways to connect with and attract travelers in the future. Many passionate travelers finally took the leap to start a business because they had the time to do so and they realize that they wanted to have a meaningful career instead of conforming to what has already been done. In my work as a Wellness Travel Coach, I had new industries reaching out to me for insight, guidance, and educational resources on the wellness benefits of travel, so much so that my work transformed into a consultancy.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the silliest things that I did when starting my business was when I launched a new group program and offered a payment plan, I accidentally set it as a one-time payment which meant that I had to contact each client each month for that month’s payment until the three months were over. I learned to double-check everything before making it available to my audience.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My biggest fan and inspiration is my mom. I know that sounds cliché but I am very blessed to have a mom who always supported me in whatever it was that I wanted to do in my life. I am an only child and she is a single mom so me choosing to travel the world solo for so long, of course, wasn’t easy for her but she always supported me. She always instilled in me that I can do anything in life that I want to do and become whomever I wanted to be, so I ran with it!

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

When people hear the term “wellness travel” they automatically think hotel spas, yoga retreats, or full-service wellness resorts but wellness means much more than that when it comes to travel. Travel has been healing to us humans for a wide range of reasons so I’ve made it my mission to reshape our approach to travel and how it is used as a tool to improve our mental, physical, emotional, and overall wellbeing. This holistic approach to wellness travel is used by travel agents, travel coaches, travel managers, and even HR managers redesigning their company’s vacation policies. For decades, travel has been studied for how it improves our wellbeing but that research hasn’t been properly implemented into the tourism, hospitality, or corporate world. Through education and guidance, I help companies increase company culture and decrease burnout expenses while bringing the value of travel to the forefront of the workplace.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Burnout was a growing problem in both the workplace and among business travelers. In the workplace, vacation days were undervalued and under supported by companies and not a part of any corporate wellness programs. As for business travelers, despite travel being in the title, road warriors were getting burned out because of their trips. I am disrupting both the corporate wellness world and business travel wellbeing with my approach by shifting the mindset around the value of travel and changing how travel is used to improve wellbeing rather than hinder it. When employees can properly utilize their vacation days and company culture supports the aspects of travel such as human connection, culture, understanding, excitement, and experiences, the chances of health expenses, turnover, and poor productivity can go down. The same for business travelers and bleisure.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

People are looking for experiences that have more meaning to them. Despite people always turning to travel for personal reasons, travel is being used as an outlet to de-stress and escape now more than ever before. The value of travel has strengthened so much so that even the luxury tourism sector is changing. Consumers are more willing to spend less and travel more than travel only once a year. As for wellness travel experiences, people are looking to spend more time outdoors in nature, engaging with local culture, trying local cuisine, and having transformative experiences that create long-lasting memories. Travel and hospitality companies need to think less about marketing their spas, suites, and private experiences, and shift their messaging towards more in-depth travel experiences that help improve the mind, body, and soul. Companies likes hotels and cruises are starting to integrate words like “transformative” and “purposeful” experiences into their messaging and paying closer attention to the experiences that are offered rather than amenities and logistics. Companies are also growing their roster of travel and wellness specialists like travel coaches that add another layer of service.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

Every travel experience serves a different purpose but for me, a vacation experience that is perfect would be one that involves warm weather and a body of water. I enjoy spending time near bodies of water to help ease the mind. The perfect vacation would also entail trying new local cuisines and shopping in the local markets where they make things that are unique to the destination. I enjoy destinations that have a variety of things to offer such as hiking, seeing new animals, taking day tours, and is budget-friendly. Some places that I feel create the perfect vacation experience are Thailand and Indonesia.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

Travel is definitely about connecting which is something that we have lacked over the past few years. When I met my boyfriend at the very beginning of the pandemic, we quickly went into lockdown when shut us off from having meaningful experiences and connecting with others. Now that we are able to travel, we just took our very first trip to Charleston, South Carolina where we were able to create new memories, grow your connection, meet new friends, and have new experiences that helped feed our minds and souls.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Really get to know your consumers on a personal level. Don’t assume that everyone enjoys the same type of experience. Travel means something different to everyone which is why you need to get to know your consumers on a more personal level to sculpt travel experiences that truly cater to their wants and needs. To do this, ask your consumers what it is that they need personally, health-wise, spiritually, emotionally, professionally, and/or in their homelife. Some people travel to strengthen their relationships, some travel to soul-search, and some travel to make new connections. To provide experiences that leave individuals satisfied with their trip, you have to understand what their mind is at and what they are seeking. If you have a business that targets a certain type of consumer, really get to know what their pain points are.
  2. Create experiences that address their pain points and needs. Travel is healing and is proven to help people in such personal ways. Build relationships with your consumers and learn to “speak their language”. This means to speak directly to their wants, needs, goals, objections, fears, concerns, and desired lifestyle. If someone works in the corporate world and is constantly burned out, identify that and provide experiences that include bodies of water, spending time in nature, or creating memorable experiences with loved ones to help lower their stress levels and spark happiness and rejuvenation.
  3. Provide meaningful experiences that allow people to give back or make an impact. People want to make a difference in some way so providing experiences that allow them the opportunity to give back or truly make an impact can make experiences that much more memorable. People want to know that their trips weren’t only in vain or that they were able make a difference in parts of the world other than where they live is important. This can be achieved through sustainability, eco-tourism, voluntourism, and more. Oftentimes the most memorable experiences have to less to do with us and more to do with how we made others feel.
  4. Get people involved in the travel planning process. Studies have talked about the positive benefits that being involved in the planning phase of a trip can have on people so getting your consumers involved in their travel plans can make a world of a difference as well. This is known to boost the happiness hormones and extend the longevity of the satisfaction of a trip. People are looking to be more involved in their travel plans anyways. They want to take more control over their budget, time-frame, itinerary, and leave room for flexibility and spontaneity.
  5. Stand out among competition. If you want to leave people coming back for more when it comes to a travel experience, you will need to think outside of the industry’s typical boxes. Don’t do what others are doing just because it seems to work. Instead, assess what your company’s values are and what travel experiences mean to your consumers. Speak differently to your consumers, provide experiences that have more meaning and depth to them, and embrace your consumers as if they were your family members. To keep people coming back, you want to take them on a journey that makes them feel something unlike anything else they’ve ever experienced or felt. You want them to be challenged, learn something new, create new stories to share, and have deep conversations with people from backgrounds other than their own. You want to use words like “transformative” and “wellness” with purpose rather than slapping a label on your brand to attract people.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

It is part of my mission to inspire, guide, and educate other entrepreneurs, especially women in the travel industry. Within The Travel Coach Network I do what I can to bring opportunities to my members, to give them a space to share their stories and experiences, to encourage understanding and acceptance of others, and to connect such amazing human beings. An example of this is my Cultural Exchange Days within my membership club. The world would be a much better place if we all understand and accepted that we are all different in culture, belief systems, traditions, appearances, and ways of life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

A part of my mission is to grow a movement in my Thrive Through Travel Initiative. This movement is about the acknowledgment that travel has a powerful impact to improve the mind, body, soul, and work-life. My goal for this movement is to inspire people to share how travel has impacted their lives and why they turn to travel for their own unique reasons as well as encourage companies to take travel off of the back burner and move it to the forefront for thriving in wellness and in the workplace

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaharaRoseTheTravelCoach

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thetravelcoachnetwork/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sahara-rose-de-vore-4b8bb394/

Website: https://thetravelcoachnetwork.com/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor