“How I Got My Start” is a regular segment in which we cull a couple of selections from our interviews with international operators, domestic operators, receptive operators, destinations, hotels and attractions to explore the path that led one to a career in the travel trade industry. One thing we have learned: the road to where they are is almost never the same. In this issue, we feature Richard Hanson, managing director, Trek America Travel Limited; and Audrey Bialas, director of sales, Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau.
Richard Hanson: After spending a few years working the service industry in Florida, Colorado & Alaska, I was quite enjoying unemployment by my parent’s pool in Florida when my mother, who was a travel agent at the time, dropped a TrekAmerica brochure on my lap. Asking her how I could afford such an extravagance, she subtly suggested it may be time for me to get a job. So after starting as a tour leader in 1995 and working my way up through operations, sales and marketing, I will be celebrated 20 years with TrekAmerica this past May.
Audrey Bialas: I’m one of the few people in this industry that took a linear path from high school. I got my B.S. Degree in Travel/Tourism at Mansfield University. I completed my internship at the Pennsylvania Travel Marketing Office, fell in love with the industry and was officially hooked! I’ve worked for several DMOs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau, where I’m currently the Director of Sales. Obviously a love of travel in this industry is a must. I’ve met the most wonderful people, traveled to 32 states, 4 provinces and 7 countries with various jobs and can’t imagine doing anything else!