INDSUurSve Ty RY
ue Hunter has been passionate about ravel and her work as a travel agent in Tucson, Ariz. She’s also been frustrat- OF AN AGENT: Sed and fed up with it. And she’s made ambitious plans for her agency’s new business model. In short, Hunter, at imes during a 27-year career, has been a member of the three psychographic groups that identify retailers: Content- eds, Searchers and Careerists. Hunter, who is a home-based agent, was a burned-out junior high school
teacher ready for a change in 1979. She had lived in
France and loved to travel, so she bought part-own-ership in a now-defunct Tucson travel agency.
“I was fascinated by travel,” she said. “I knew I
wouldn’t make a lot of money, but I enjoyed it so
much. I think I’d call myself a Contented with Careerist tendencies at that point.” She left a few years
THE THREE FACES
SUE HUNTER’S STORY
By Laura Del Rosso
NE W YORK TIMES
BROADWAY • LAS VEGAS • NORTH AMERICAN TOUR • WORLDWIDE
Home-based retailer Sue
Hunter embodies elements
of the three psychographic
groups that constitute the
travel agent community:
the Contenteds, Searchers
PHO TO B Y EDWARD Mc CAIN/ BLACK S TAR
later to raise her children, but she returned to a local
agency, Century Travel, happy to be doing what she
loved, without the headaches of running an agency. “I had managed the office that I co-owned and
found it was easier to be an employee,” she said.
Century was later acquired by Bon Voyage Travel,
which gave Hunter the option of becoming an independent contractor, an opportunity she jumped at.
When the airlines eliminated commissions in the
late 1990s, Bon Voyage gave its independent contractors another option: working from home.
It was at this time that Hunter considered getting
out of travel. She had focused on corporate travel,
and it didn’t seem to make financial sense to continue with that. She thought about getting an office job, something safe and secure, without worries
about the viability of a profession that seemed on
the brink of a meltdown. “I was scared,” she said.
She found a niche in selling India, which grew
to make up about 35% of her business as she built
Honeymoons and More, a home-based agency
hosted by Bon Voyage, a member of the Signature
Today she considers herself, after going full circle,
as having elements of all three character types.
Sometimes, she’s content, passionate about her
work. Sometimes, she’s pessimistic. And sometimes
she’s thrilled with her growing India niche, sees a
bright future and can’t see doing anything else.
“If I were a young person, I’m not sure I would
pick travel,” she said. “Unless you have some kind of
built-in clientele, as I did, it’s a hard nut to crack.”
Hunter adds that she fortunate in that “travel
represents a good chunk of my income, but I don’t
completely depend on it. My satisfaction level is
pretty high, and I know it’s because I’m home-based. I would be extremely unhappy as a traditional retailer.”