Thoughts from Terri Rickard, President of Southwestern Travel Group:
“It is such an honor to join the Million Dollar Club in our third year in business. I am so proud of my team and the work we get to do every day. Their willingness to take risks, to fail, to learn and grow daily is inspiring.
May 29, 2012, is the day I started my career as the Executive Assistant to Henry Bedford, my mentor, coach, and personal friend. During my first year at Southwestern Family of Companies, I took on a major project to create an internally-managed travel program for the (then) 16 operating divisions, managing over $5 million in annual travel spend. In just a few years of collecting company travel data, conducting intense industry research, and perfecting the vendor contract negotiation process, we achieved a savings of over $500,000.
In 2016, we turned this internal travel program into a public service and launched Southwestern Travel Group with the focus of helping and consulting other companies to save money on group travel, specifically in regards to meetings and incentives. However, the focus quickly changed when we realized an opportunity within our family of companies to partner with our school fundraising business to maximize the fundraising relationships already created with school sponsors who organize their student groups. We decided to focus the majority of our attention on building unique travel experiences for school groups who work with Southwestern Fundraising to travel. When school groups travel with us, we make it a top priority for them to know that we only do one type of trip: an amazing one! We show them an amazing travel experience through our elevated level of customer service, through the quality of our vendors, and by integrating one-of-a-kind character-building activities into every trip.
Being a part of the Southwestern Family of Companies significantly increased the opportunity for success early on. When we launched in 2016, I had 15-month-old twin girls, a 3-year-old son, and a 10-year-old son. Outside of work, my plate was already full. If I had started a business outside of the family of companies, it would have certainly been a much more difficult challenge both personally and professionally. However, with access to a legal team, human resources, accounting, in-house printing services, office space, marketing and IT departments, etc., we have been able to scale at a much faster pace. Another significant impact of being a part of the family of companies is having the community of a team of partners, leaders, and mentors who have provided me with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom and who fully support the travel business. We certainly have a healthy, competitive spirit, but we are all rooting for each other’s success. We are truly a family.
All three of our current travel divisions – Meetings and Incentives, Student Group, Leisure – have tremendous growth potential. However, with our partnership with Southwestern Fundraising taking shape, the quickest growth potential is our student group business.
We started this journey with a lofty 5-year plan. I have a quote in my office that I look at every day: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” I believe that wholeheartedly. I like big, scary goals. Even though we are not where we want to be in year 3, we have the mindset that if we miss a goal, we make it up. We have a plan in place for the next 2 years to hit our original 5-year goal. I have a team who just doesn’t quit, and we are focused on the mission of serving our clients well and crafting infinite memories through awe-inspiring travel experiences that span a lifetime.
I am amongst some of the most innovative and positive leaders in the world, and I am humbled by the opportunity to work alongside them daily.”
We are proud to feature such successful and life-changing companies such as Southwestern Travel.
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