Robyn Basso

Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC. Co-Founder & Editor, Travel Professional News

MailPound: What is your professional background?

Joanie: I studied to be a social worker and I ended up in travel. There are some similarities, right? (laughing) Never for a moment have I regretted to follow my travel passion. I just feel that all of us in this industry are so lucky to be in a business where we can make dreams come true and create lifetime memories for people.

MailPound: How did you begin your career?

Joanie: I guess you could say I grew up in travel. I was the youngest of four children. When I turned 14, my mom decided she was bored, waiting for us all to come home from school every day so Dad bought her a travel agency. They had always traveled, a lot, and they would take us kids whenever they could. We were really blessed. My brother and I were the younger two, and we really were fortunate to have a lot of travel experiences all around the world.

When I was a teenager, I loved clothes, I loved shoes - I still do now. In order to support my shopping habits, my mom put me to work in the travel agency, filing, what was known back then, as tariffs and writing tickets by hand. I really grew up in the travel industry, the rest is history. I’m still here!

MailPound: How did you begin your career going from there?

Joanie: I guess you would call it, my first “official” position in the travel industry was at a company called Runaway Tours. They were located in San Francisco. People might remember them. They were a Hawaii and Mexico focused tour operator. They were really big in their time.

They closed their doors, I think six years ago. It was interesting – they just decided that they weren’t going to do it anymore. It wasn’t the kind of closing that people experience where they had hurt clients or anything. It was just they were done. They made sure everybody had their trips and that was it.

It was a huge company at the time, it was actually partially owned by GIANTS, the consortia.
I started out in the accounting department. It was definitely not my strength, but, I needed a job really bad. I started out trying to use the manual adding machine (laughing) It’s pretty much what I had to use.

However, they realized that wasn’t my expertise. Luckily for me, they must have seen something in me, after a year or so, I was promoted Regional Sales Manager for Northern California, and then again in Southern California.

I was deeply rooted in Hawaii tourism. I met my husband, Tom, on a FAM (familiarization) tour, in the lobby of the Halekulani Hotel, in the mid ’70’s. In ’81, Tom and I opened a Hawaii tour operation (agency) called Windansea Vacations. We ran a similar company to what Runaway Tours did. Since then, we’ve owned and operated several retail travel agencies as well. Now, our focus is on supporting travel professionals with a variety of resources and tools to help them grow their respective businesses.

MailPound: How has your professional experiences changed your perspective on tourism?

Joanie: I think travel is the great equalizer. I believe that local knowledge, sights, and experiences, are key to helping all of us, and humanity, to become closer. Travel broadens our horizons. It narrows the gaps between different cultures. It allows us to open our minds and senses to new experiences. That’s my overall feeling on tourism.

MailPound: What trends in the travel industry do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

Joanie: I think the function of a travel professional is to connect the consumer with the exact fit for a vacation. I don’t think this is ever going to fade. In fact, it’s being re-discovered, I believe, more than ever before, there’s always going to be opportunities for effective travel professionals.

I believe that the way we interface with potential and existing clients is likely to change dramatically within the next decade. With complex technology, it will enable even the smallest travel professional, just a one person show with a really narrow niche, to build and maintain an amazing credibility throughout the planet. I believe that the social media giants of today are going to be replaced by niche driven social platforms that will be much more involved than they are today. Social media is obviously moving quicker and quicker, and as giants like Facebook lose some favor here and there with more sophisticated users in favor of niche media. Unbelievable opportunities are going to exist for travel entrepreneurs

I also believe that digital media is going to transform the travel professional’s ability to reach potential clients in new ways that weren’t imagined even five years ago. It’s very exciting! I think travel professionals have an incredible exciting road ahead of them.

MailPound: What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career?

Joanie: That’s a tough one, because it’s all really been a blessing. I think it’s being able to experience exceptional people. The travel industry is just full of exceptional people. To gain a perspective on travel through their eyes, is probably one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had. I’ve learned so much about life from travel professionals, and I’m humbled by it. The courage and tenacity from individuals I get to know is without question to me, the best thing that’s happened to me in my career.

MailPound: In the classic saying, “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger,” what are some things that you wish you had known ahead of time?

Joanie: I’ve learned to seize the moment. I really believe in it, life is so precious. I guess, if knowing that when I was younger how very important that would be in my later years, I would have seized more moments. All that being said, I have definitely had my fair share of serious fun in life. Live for the moment is something that I believe, and sometimes I wish I lived more for the moment as time has gone on.

MailPound: As a published author, what inspired you to begin writing?

Joanie: Tom and I wrote our first book, How to Start a Home Based Travel Agency, I was adding up numbers today, and I realized it was over 23 years ago, in 1996, it’s hard to believe. It was the first and the only book on the topic. It hit the industry by storm.

The evolution of agents moving to work from a home base was just starting to take off. You can see that we seized that moment. At the time, we felt that this book really need to be written to enable this growing trend of agents. At that point, we realized that we really love to write, so we continued writing.

MailPound: Could you tell us a bit about your library of books and where agents can find them?

Joanie: We have eight top selling books, all written exclusively for travel professionals sharing best practices, niche opportunities and more. We are just about to release our newest book, which is going to be titled, Selling River Cruises. If anyone who happens to be reading this transcript, and are interested at all in our books, they can find them at our site, If they use the code, “MailPound” at the checkout, they’re going to receive an additional five percent discount.

MailPound: What are some fun facts about yourself?

Joanie: It’s not a fun fact, but it’s a fact, I have the best husband in the world, and I have the most amazing son that a mom could ever hope for. Those are facts. I love my guys, I am a really lucky lady. I have the opportunity to work with them every day, all three of us are in the company together. Some would say working with family is challenging, I see it as a chance to be with the ones that I love as much as possible.

Knowing that our son, Andy, is going to take over our business and carry on the Ogg tradition in the industry, makes us super happy. He will be the third-generation travel entrepreneur and it makes me very proud.

Fun facts, I’m a dog freak. I love big dogs, I currently have about a 115 pound (52 kilograms), 10-month-old, St. Bernard named Cali, who is sitting next to me as we speak. And an 80 pound (36 kilograms) rescue labradoodle named Sky. I love my dogs. My husband says he wants to come back as one of my dogs. I’m not exactly sure how to take that. I do love my furry kids.

I am in my happiest place when I’m with my granddaughters. Peyton is four years old, and Lyla is almost four weeks old. They are seriously my pride and joy, and I can never get enough time with them. My sincere hope in life is that they will always know and remember that Grandma Joanie loves them with every piece of her heart. To me, family - including my furry ones - are seriously my everything.