or the weddings themselves. She had
other ideas, too. Scouting at church,
she hatched the idea for a Christians-at-sea cruise, then she worked the
seniors communities. Recognizing that plenty of people
who choose age-defined living arrangements are very
much able to travel, she said
she organized seniors-at-sea cruises,
which resulted in a few marriages or
Now that she has settled more
firmly into her new role as travel
entrepreneur, Kier said her other
big niche (besides family groups) is
fund-raising cruises for churches and
Although cruises are her specialty,
accounting for 85% of sales, Kier
also sells some tours, sending clients
on ground tours to places they’ve
glimpsed on shore excursions. She
puts a lot of that business on Brendan
Tours, adding, “I’m in love with Brendan Tours.”
groups. The rule of thumb: She will
go with a group that takes at least 75
cabins, she said.
Kier is a top seller for Oceania Cruis-
Oceania’s Nautica on Halong Bay in northeastern Vietnam.
One of Kier’s early challenges was with group leaders who decided
‘to take on the role of travel agent, causing confusion and conten-
es. Over the last couple of months, she
has sold at least $100,000 on Oceania,
“a modest estimate,” she said.
Hers remains a one-woman business, but when Kier is on the road,
she is close to her laptop, and calls
to her land line are forwarded to her
While she counts her business a
success, it is not always smooth sailing. One of her biggest challenges
early on was with some group leaders who decided “to take on the role
of travel agent,” as well. She had,
initially, dealt only with the leaders, passing information to travelers
through those individuals.
However, she said, some leaders would, in answering questions,
disseminate incorrect information
“causing confusion and contention”
and sinking a few groups.
Now, Kier said, “I make myself
available to everyone in the group
to answer their questions personally.
This works out so much better, and
I have developed numerous spin-off
groups because of it.”
Occasionally, she said, she con-
fronts prejudice. Some prospects
think her first name indicates she is
Muslim. “I have encountered some
very harsh comments.” Others,
because she is Jewish, say they
don’t want to do business with her
Her response? “I choose my battles,
and, as I learned early in business, some
money just ain’t worth making. I politely let them go to a travel agent who
fits their religious and ethnic criteria.”
How does Kier stay motivated? It
sounds pretty easy: “I love my job. I
love helping people, seeing them ex-
cited. I feel needed and useful.”
She’ll be doing this for awhile, too,
though she does have her next career
“When I am 50, I will do real estate.
But that is many, many, many years
“I want to be clear about that.”
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She found a host agency in America’s Vacation Center, an American
Express rep in San Diego, a company
“that has exceeded my expectations,”
particularly in its provision of skills
training, “all of it free.” She found her
host based on word of mouth after
having worked with a few host firms
that “offered nothing.”
She said she is careful to qualify clients — “the minimum duty” of a good
agent — to determine their expectations as well as wishes. Then, she said,
“you talk everyone out of an interior
cabin. No one wants to be in a closet.”
Kier keeps business hours during
some part of every day, starting no
earlier than noon, and running to
midnight six days.
She does not do much travel that is
not work-related. She takes cruises to
inspect new ships, or even older ones,
for first-hand knowledge. She does
the same at some Caribbean islands.
Kier also travels with some of her
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