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Everyone has that one person in their circle; that trusted individual you can go to for informed guidance, sage advice, valuable experience and more. That person who never fails to bring fresh ideas to the table and challenges what has always been in order to build something better.

In the group travel industry, these are the leaders who have risen to the surface as folks who are always willing to try new things, bolster innovation within the industry, drive others in a positive direction, and are recognizable among group travel professionals as someone who can be relied upon.

We asked our readers to share who among their industry peers should be recognized for their efforts in this realm. Those who were selected to be among the 2022 Influencers of Group Travel were featured in a recent issue of Groups Today. Keep reading to get to know them!

 


 

Claudia Menezes
Vice President and Owner | GoPegasus

Born in Brazil to a family of trailblazers in the travel industry, Claudia Menezes was exposed to the world of travel at a young age and her passion for the industry has only grown since. She has spent over 30 years founding and managing various tour companies, and has held the position of Vice President and Owner of GoPegasus alongside her husband since 2001.

Menezes is always looking for opportunities for innovation and, with her team, strives to push the boundaries to offer new ideas and experiences for groups, including a newly-launched program: Art on Wheels.

"The idea came from the fact that we have groups who are constantly on social media while loading into the buses," Menezes explained. "We thought, 'what if we make our buses into moving instagrammable walls of art?' The program has been a huge hit already and features one-of-a-kind works of art from local artists in partnership with United Arts, Orlando City Soccer, and more to come. This is just one of the ways that we look to constantly add to the overall experience. It's the little things that often make the biggest impact."

For Menezes, being part of the travel industry means coming in with passion—something she and her team do well.

"Everything we do at GoPegasus stems from this passion to bring someone's travel dreams to a realization," she said. "That's why we have worked hard to become the best at what we do; to truly build a company and brand recognized for exceptional guest service. At the end of the day, when someone is booking with us, we strive to be synonymous with loyalty, integrity and every experience we build for a group is centered around this."

While there have been many lessons along the way, Menezes believes that every challenge is simply an opportunity in disguise.

"This is the way we tackle each and every task and have stayed authentic to who we are while steadily building a successful business," she said. "To have others look to our success story is truly a dream come true. We know that if we do it right, it's not about instant reward but building a solid foundation and the benefit will come later."

When it comes to what others can do to be influencers in their own group travel circles, Menezes says it's all about networking.

"We've been incredibly active in the community since inception of the company and have found there's an opportunity in almost every business we come in contact with. It's not always about the bottom line," Menezes explains. "The majority of the time, we've found that the more value added through amazing community partners that we include for our groups, the better the overall experience. When you do good work and provide a solid foundation of service—especially when including your community partners—the business will come."

Like everyone, Menezes is looking forward to the rebound of the travel market in the wake of COVID-19. She acknowledges, however, how the pandemic provided an opportunity for a reset and the chance to reflect on what could be improved and how.

"We need to understand the power that we have as the travel industry and involve partners in all areas of the community to help showcase how travel can benefit everyone in any segment," she said. "We have to remind ourselves that our industry is one of the largest and we are ambassadors for change, global acceptance, and the preservation of culture by showcasing new experiences to groups everywhere from around the globe.

"We are an industry that is so essential in the world right now—our message is one of peace, enjoyment and happiness, and it's our job to continue to celebrate each other by exposing new people to new exciting experiences every day."

To read more about the rest of the 2022 Influencers of Group Travel, click here.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

 

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