Eugenia Chinsman: Connecting Travelers with Their Roots
Eugenia Chinsman shares how she got involved in the group travel industry, why she's passionate about her work and how she helps connect travelers to their roots.
With a background and education in international affairs and world culture, Eugenia Chinsman is no stranger to travel. Chinsman's husband's previous work with the United Nations kept them traversing much of Africa and Europe for 25 years. However, upon his retirement, Chinsman was confronted with what she wanted to do next. A friend suggested sharing her love for travel with others, and the rest is history.
Chinsman got to work, learning everything she could about owning a home-based travel business. She joined what was known at the time as NACTA (now known as the ASTA Small Business Network) and became chapter director for New York and Connecticut. She's attained almost every professional certification one could imagine, including ASTA's Verified Travel Advisor certification.
Now 16 years into her industry tenure, Chinsman has received many major awards from a wide cross-section of social and business communities. She is president of both ASTA Small Business Network's Connecticut chapter and Manstravel, LLC, through which she found her niche: Selling safaris and roots and cultural travel to Africa.
"In 16 years, I've been able to connect almost 500 African Americans with their roots in Africa," Chinsman said, noting the evolution and growing popularity of genealogical travel services, which requires multidisciplinary skills combining a number of factors. "Manstravel is currently the only agency providing such a unique service, wholly dedicated to helping African Americans experience their lost culture and heritage."
One industry change Chinsman says she's seen is the acceptance of independent contractors by practically all major suppliers. She also notes some of the best lessons she's learned in recent years include never procrastinating, because you never know what tomorrow may bring.
"COVID taught me that life in just a moment could be taken away with no warning! I lost many groups who were all ready to go," Chinsman recalled. "These were people doing their bucket list trips to places they'd saved for and dreamed about; as they were ready to fulfill their dreams, COVID struck. For two years, we lost a huge portion of our resources and a good number of our clients.
"Life is short, the world is wide—do not procrastinate!"
When it comes to advice for newcomers, Chinsman emphasizes embracing advancements in technology and being aware that even though it takes time to develop a specialized niche, it's worth it.
"In order to succeed in their field, newcomers must realize that each niche has its own needs," she said, adding that finding a narrowed specialization—whether a specific market segment or a targeted destination—doesn't have to mean putting all your eggs in one basket. "Gaining knowledge through FAM trips, training seminars, webinars, publications, periodicals and forging relationships with tourism boards could also be helpful."
The travel industry has taught Chinsman that with proper planning, marketing and cutting-edge technology, a career as a travel advisor can be rewarding in a number of ways.
"My obligation as a travel advisor is to continue to prove that independent contractors are a valuable arm of the travel industry, and to continue making my clients my number one priority and provide a beyond-expectation level of service."
MORE ABOUT EUGENIA ...
In addition to her work in the travel industry, Chinsman is president and founder Sweet Mother, Inc., a foundation which honors mothers who have been successful in balancing motherhood with their business, their profession and their community.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec '23 issue of Groups Today.
Photos Courtesy of Eugenia Chinsman.