Justin Osbon entered the travel industry as an intern for his family's business, 14 years ago, following up with clients and helping the sales team; that evolved into an offer to work in a sales role.
Since then, he's built many partnerships with travel agencies and tour operators across the country and helps them find clients who are booking their vacation of a lifetime. This year, Image Tours celebrates its 80th anniversary.
Among Osbon's highlights is having served as National Tour Association (NTA) board chairman, allowing him to see all aspects of the industry and help the tour-and-travel-focused association work with its membership to drive more business to members and encourage tourism throughout the world. Another highlight was being in the first wave of Groups Today Top 10 Next Gens. "It was an honor to be recognized with this group and it's great to see all those who were in that group continue on in their careers."
During his industry tenure, Osbon has seen a lot. "When I first started, there were six legacy air carriers; now, there are only three. Another trend: Homebased agents were looked down upon as unprofessional and not having enough knowledge to be competitive; now, a lot of agencies that were brick-and-mortar have moved into homebased models and are doing as good as your traditional agencies."
Osbon has also learned a lot. One of my best lessons? At a convention, he'd met with a particular tour operator over the course of maybe four years. Each time, after giving his best five-to-six-minute pitch, he heard "Thank you, but it's just not a good fit." A year later, at a meeting with that same operator, he expected the same response. "When I sat down, I simply asked 'How can I help you?' knowing it probably wasn't going anywhere. They informed me they wanted to work with me, and my jaw probably hit the table. We discussed our partnership and it taught me that just because today is a no doesn't mean there isn't a yes in the future—as long as you continue to ask, 'How can I help you?'"
He also wants to help others learn. Some of the best advice he received when first attending shows and conventions was: Go to every event and try and sit with someone you don't know.
"Yes, it can be intimidating and overwhelming to go to every single event and sit with a table of people you don't know. But it has culminated in more business for me than just the appointments have done. You don't have to do this every single time—but go to one lunch and find a group of new faces.
"You just might find some new clients. If not, we're all in the travel business. They are guaranteed to be a great group of people you just don't know yet."
"While it might not surprise some who know me, I'm just a kid at heart. I still love watching Saturday morning cartoons with my two daughters and going on bike rides with them and playing at the park on our days together."
Written by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in Groups Today.