Our Team 2018-09-17T17:26:33+00:00

Our Travel Experts

Michelle Boots, Cruise Expert

Email: mboots@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-632-3659

Meeting new people and hearing about their life experiences is Michelle’s favorite part of being a trusted travel expert. She loves working with all different types of clientele, offering them suggestions to make their travel plans runs seamlessly.  She understands details are very important in making her clients happy, and it is essential to her to get them right.

Michelle has been in the cruise industry for 30 years. She started off as a receptionist and quickly worked her way up to a Cruise Consultant.  She has traveled extensively to Mexico, Alaska, and the Caribbean and has been on a Mediterranean cruise voyage. She is knowledgeable of most cruise lines, and has had the opportunity to sail aboard Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, and Silversea. Michelle loves the Caribbean and learning about the history of Europe.

Michelle looks forward to helping you plan your next cruise or tour!

 

Cruise Expert:

  • Alaska
  • Asia
  • Caribbean
  • Europe
  • Mexico
  • Mediterranean
  • South America

Travel Specialist:

  • World Cruises
  • Grand Voyages
  • River Cruising
  • Beach Vacations
  • Land Tours
  • Group Travel

Travel Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways
  • Seabourn Academy
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises Academy

Bonnie Childs, Cruise Expert

Email: bchilds@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-632-3659

Bonnie’s favorite part of her job is planning the perfect cruise for luxury clients and their families, and she enjoys escorting trips and meeting new people all over the world. She has been selling luxury cruises and tours for over 29 years. What cruise lines and tour companies top her list? Silversea, Crystal, Regent, Seabourn, Windstar and Tauck Tours

Having been to Australia and New Zealand two times, it is a destination Bonnie would love to repeat. Antarctica, Greenland and Iceland are also on Bonnie’s bucket list. One of her most memorable cruises was through the British Isles which took her to the Orkney Islands where her paternal grandmother grew up. On a different journey, she also visited her German grandfather’s home in Germany and met many relatives prior to the river cruise. Bonnie hopes to learn about her Finnish side of the family combined with a Baltic cruise in the future. She finds that many of her clients are interested in ancestry and she would love to help coordinate a cruise that visits their homeland on the same journey.

She has sailed on three European river cruises, two in Germany, and one Tulip Time cruise and she enjoys helping clients discover and plan river cruise vacations. Other destinations Bonnie has relished visiting include South America, the Mediterranean, Norway, Baltic including St. Petersburg and Moscow, Israel, Croatia, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Korea, Egypt and the Suez Canal, and the Panama Canal. Bonnie is excited to take Rocky Mountaineer (Banff to Calgary on April 29, 2018) and host a Cunard ancestry cruise in November 2018. Bonnie looks forward to sharing her passion for luxury cruising with you!

Cruise Expert:

  • South America
  • Mediterranean – Several times
  • Norway
  • Baltic including St. Petersburg and Moscow
  • Australia and New Zealand 1999 and 2008
  • Israel 2012
  • Croatia 2014
  • Hong Kong, China, Japan and Korea on Crystal Symphony 2015
  • Egypt and Suez Canal 2012
  • Panama Canal

Travel Specialist:

  • Luxury Cruising
  • River Cruising
  • Tauck Tours – Tauck Academy Certified Agent 2015
  • Family Cruise Vacations
  • Ancestry Cruises/Trips
  • Silversea, Crystal, Regent, Seabourn and Windstar are my favorite cruise lines.

Travel Certifications:

  • Tauck Academy Certified Agent
  • Seabourn Academy
  • Accredited Cruise Counsellor
  • Vancouver Specialists Program 2018

Vickie Coston, Travel Expert

Email: vcoston@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Vickie has over 30 years of experience in the travel industry predominantly servicing business travel clients. She has served as the team lead on major corporate accounts including Brunswick, Haliburton, SPX Corporation, Dartmouth College, Lehigh University and most recently Meijer, Inc.

Well versed in domestic and international travel, Vickie is very knowledgeable about destinations around the world. She chose to leave the “call center” atmosphere to be able to provide more personal service and develop professional relationships with her clients and will do what it takes to make sure their trips go smoothly.

Lynne Cox, Cruise Expert

Email: lcox@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-632-3659

Every time Lynne gets back from a cruise, she says it is her new favorite trip because she is always so excited about what she has experienced. She has over 25 years of experience selling luxury cruises and tours and facilitating group travel. She specializes in sending clients on long, extended voyages such as world cruises and grand voyages that span from several weeks up to four months long, in addition to river cruises, and specialty land trips ranging from safaris to guided tours of Europe.

Lynne also sets up large group cruises for everything from family reunions to an organization’s annual meeting where the group combines meetings with an exciting cruise destination. She works with the group leader to plan and organize the entire retreat from start to finish, and occasionally serves as a host for the group on the ship.

Having traveled all over the world, a few of Lynne’s favorite memories include hiking at Alaska’s Eastern Baranof Island and exploring Glacier Bay National Park by foot, experiencing France for the first time on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, and discovering Germany on her first river cruise. She thoroughly enjoys sailing on small ships to get to experience the smaller ports where large ships can’t reach. The cruise lines Lynne knows best include Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Holland America, Seabourn, Celebrity and Tauck.

Destination Expert:

  • Alaska
  • France
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • England
  • Transatlantic Cruises
  • Caribbean
  • Mexico
  • Panama Canal

Travel Specialist:

  • World Cruises
  • Grand Voyages
  • River Cruises
  • Group Travel
  • Specialty Land Trips

Travel Certifications:

  • Tauck

Debra Dickerson, Cruise Expert

Email: ddickerson@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-632-3659

Debra loves to hear the excitement from her clients of what they got to do on a trip she had planned. She enjoys working with people who have a sense of humor and like to go out of the box a bit and do things with more adventure.

Having been in the travel industry for over 27 years, Debra is extremely knowledgeable of destinations around the world and how to match her clients with the best vacation options for them. Her priority is making sure they have everything set before they leave so they have nothing to worry about but to have a good time.

Debra sells a lot of world cruises, adventure/expedition cruises and Alaska cruise tours. She has been to Alaska about every other year for the last 15 years, and has been a frequent traveler to Hawaii, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She also visits Disneyland with her daughter and skis at Whistler, British Columbia at least once a year.

Her favorite part of traveling is meeting people from different cultures around the world and seeing how they live. Debra looks forward to helping you plan your next adventure.

Destination Expert:

  • Norway
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • BC Canada
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Mexico

Travel Specialist:

  • World Cruises
  • Grand Voyages
  • River Cruises
  • Skiing & Winter Sports
  • Family Vacations
  • Beach Vacations
  • Disney – all aspects

Travel Certifications/Awards:

  • Top Sales Person in Northwest for Tauck
  • Top Sales Agent for Several Years

Mary Ellsworth, Cruise Expert

Email: mellsworth@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-632-3659

Mary loves finding the perfect vacation fit for her clients to help them take away special memories. She loves building relationships with all types of clients such as luxury, groups, families, singles and both new and experienced travelers.

Mary is known for being persistent in helping her clients find availability when it seems impossible and feels rewarded when they come home thrilled with their experience. She is a seasoned cruise professional with over 25 years in the travel industry.  Her passion for travel was built by working with tour companies, hotels and cruise lines prior to joining Cruise and Travel Experts.

She specializes in selling grand voyages, world cruises, luxury and family travel and is extremely knowledgeable about traveling to Alaska, Hawaii, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific.  A few of her favorite spots include Hawaii, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Australia & New Zealand. Mary looks forward to helping your travel dreams come true!

Cruise Expert:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Central America (Costa Rica)
  • Asia
  • South Pacific
  • European River Cruises

Travel Specialist:

  • Grand Voyages
  • World Cruises
  • Luxury Travel
  • Family Travel
  • River Cruises

Travel Certifications/Awards:

  • Top 2, 3 or 4 Sales Agent for Past 12 Years
  • SEA Award (Sales Excellence Achievement)

Lori Grantz, Travel Expert

Email: lgrantz@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

A few of Lori’s favorite travel memories include ziplining with her father through the Costa Rican rainforest, flying over Niagara Falls in a helicopter, swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, and taking in the impressive scenery and wildlife by rail in Alaska. Lori has worked in the travel industry for 22 years and enjoys getting to know her clients personally and helping them fulfill their interests and passions through travel. Lori loves planning destination weddings, anniversary trips, babymoons and family reunion cruises where she gets to know the grandparents and great-grandparents.

Lori has visited the Riviera Maya region of Mexico 11 times and has taken seven Caribbean cruises so is a pro at recommending the best excursions. A few of her suggestions? Rent a jeep in Cozumel and stop at all the small beach bars, especially Coconuts, where there is no electricity and everything is chilling on ice or hot off the grill. Or climb the Coba Mayan ruin, zipline through the jungle, rappel into a Cenote, and enjoy a tasty local lunch prepared for you by the women of the Mayan village. Lori is excited to help you pull the details together for your next vacation.

Destination Expert:

  • Mexico – Riviera Maya, Cancun, Cozumel
  • Caribbean
  • Ireland
  • Alaska
  • Czech Republic

Travel Specialist:

  • Honeymoons
  • Destination Weddings
  • Couples/Romance
  • Ocean Cruises & River Cruises
  • Coach Tours/Escorted Tours
  • Multigenerational Group Travel/Family Reunions

Travel Certifications:

  • Marriott Hotels
  • AM Resorts
  • Princess Cruises – Exclusive Commodore Level Agent!
  • Disney Specialist

Vickie Grysen, Travel Expert

Email: vgrysen@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Vickie’s favorite part of her job is talking to her clients after they return from their vacation, wedding, or honeymoon to hear all about the fun they had and the memories they created. She also really appreciates when clients refer her to their friends and family because then she knows she has done her job well.

With over 40 years of experience in the travel industry, Vickie assists both leisure and corporate travel clients. While she has visited many destinations around the globe by land and sea, her favorite place has been New Zealand where she spent two weeks visiting both the North and South Island.  She loved the New Zealanders and all of the activities offered and the beautiful landscapes.

Vickie excels at planning destination weddings and will stop at nothing to help her clients get the best resort at the best rate. She has been on 25 cruises so can give you the scoop on the different cruise lines and itineraries, matching you with the best fit. Whether you need help rebooking your flight or want that special room or cabin, Vickie has the industry contacts to help you.

Destination Expert:

  • Mexico – Riviera Maya, Cancun, Acapulco, Cozumel
  • Italy
  • New Zealand and Australia
  • Germany, Austria and Switzerland
  • Hawaii
  • Cruises
  • Florida
  • Japan
  • Caribbean Islands

Travel Specialist:

  • Destination Weddings and Honeymoons
  • Family Vacations
  • Beach Vacations
  • Vacations out of the Ordinary
  • Group and Incentive Travel

Travel Certifications:

  • CTC (Certified Travel Counselor)
  • Sandals
  • AM Resorts

Gene Gustafson, Travel Expert

Email: gene@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 616-278-0282

Gene has more than 30 years of corporate travel experience and has worked with a variety of different companies throughout his long career. He has earned his CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) and is a Destination Specialist in Western Europe and has a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Gene is a travel enthusiast, having traveled to Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Estonia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, French Polynesia, as well as throughout the US and Canada.

Gene looks forward to providing our business travelers with his kind and efficient service.

Travel Certifications:

  • CTC (Certified Travel Counselor)
  • Destination Specialist in Western Europe

Tina Hirr, Travel Expert

Email: thirr@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Tina’s most rewarding part of her job is seeing the excitement in her client’s eyes as they tell stories from their recent vacation. She has nearly 20 years of experience serving travelers in a variety of roles in the travel industry. She has racked up many miles traveling to the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, and throughout the United States with her family of six.

Tina enjoys visiting the U.S. National Parks and has vacationed at Glacier, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, and Devils Tower. She has also traveled to many islands throughout the Caribbean and Mexico by land and by cruise. She has traveled in Europe and recommends taking a river cruise. Tina looks forward to providing you with her personal recommendations on the destinations you are interested in visiting.

Destination Expert:

  • Caribbean
  • Italy
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico
  • Hawaii

Travel Specialist:

  • U.S. National Parks – Camping
  • Family Vacations
  • Beach Vacations
  • Women’s Travel
  • Sailing & Boating
  • Cruises
  • River Cruises

Travel Certifications:

  • AM Resorts
  • Avalon
  • Marriott Resorts
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

Lory Horrevorts, Travel Expert

Email: loryh@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Having been a travel expert for more than 28 years, Lory knows how to match her clients with the best vacation to suit their needs. Lory specializes in selling luxury travel, escorted group travel, cruises, honeymoons, destination weddings, all-inclusive vacations, and Disney vacations. She enjoys working with everyone from busy millennials to seniors and loves hearing their travel stories and forming a bond with them.

Lory feels her best quality as a travel agent is that she is a good listener to really hear what her clients are looking for in each vacation they take. She takes the time to find out what is important to them and many have trusted her with their travel plans for over 16 years.

Lory has traveled the world extensively and some of her favorite destinations include China, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Mexico, Western Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean. New Zealand and Ireland top her list and she found them to be surprisingly very similar because of their stunning scenery and friendliness of the people. Lory looks forward to helping you plan your next journey!

Destination Expert:

  • Alaska
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Italy
  • Europe
  • New Zealand
  • Tahiti
  • Ireland
  • Hawaii
  • Benelux
  • Walt Disney

Travel Specialist:

  • Luxury Travel
  • Escorted Coach Tours
  • Cruises
  • River Cruises
  • All-Inclusive Vacations
  • Honeymoons
  • Destination Weddings
  • Disney Vacations

Travel Certifications:

  • AM Resorts
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  • Avalon Waterways
  • Hawaii Destination specialist
  • Apple Vacations
  • Walt Disney
  • Sandals Resorts
  • Globus
  • Trafalgar
  • Rail Europe

Penney Lipner, Travel Expert

Email: plipner@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Penney’s passion lies in coordinating domestic and international business travel and helping road warriors make it to their final destination. With her 36 years of experience in the travel industry, she prides herself on being there when they need her, even if it’s after hours.

According to Penney, that is just part of the value add she provides to the traveler wherever they may be in the world. She makes sure they have the flights they need, and will leave no stone unturned in helping them with a flight change or securing a sold out hotel.

Having traveled extensively herself, Penney also plans clients’ leisure travel and Caribbean cruises tops her list to sail and sell. She is also a big fan of Hawaii, saying it’s truly paradise.

 

Shannon Nelson, Cruise Expert

Email: snelson@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-632-3659

Shannon has always had a passion for culinary and wine destinations and usually finds herself signing up for the cooking class, wine tasting/culinary shore excursions along with trying all the specialty restaurants onboard cruise ships. She feels it brings the “food to table, wine to glass” understanding and appreciation of unique regions of the world. She has transformed this passion into helping her clients find unique culinary adventures and has even coordinated several exclusive wine member cruises.

Shannon has over 28 years of experience selling luxury cruises and tours and is an extremely dedicated agent focused on providing the best service to her clients. She specializes in selling luxury cruises, world cruises, and grand voyages and understands the high attention of detail and unique preparations required for these long cruises. Her vast knowledge of cruising allows her to expertly match her clients with the most ideal cruise vacation for them.

Shannon has traveled throughout the Mediterranean, Thailand, Latin America, Peru (Machu Picchu), Mexico, Caribbean, Alaska, and most recently Papua New Guinea/Indonesia/Australia on an expedition trip with Zegraham Expeditions. Belize is Shannon’s favored beach getaway and she is hooked on snorkeling, birding, diving, hiking, seeing the ruins, and just enjoying the fabulous resorts and restaurants. She looks forward to helping you plan your next great cruise adventure! 

Destination Expert:

  • Mediterranean
  • Thailand
  • Latin America
  • Peru
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Alaska
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Australia
  • Indonesia

Travel Specialist:

  • World Cruises
  • Grand Voyages
  • River Cruises
  • Wine and Culinary Travel
  • Group Travel
  • Specialty Land Trips

Travel Certifications:

  • Tauck

Michele Peleras, Travel Expert

Email: mpeleras@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Michele’s favorite part of her job is having the opportunity to interact with people and share her knowledge and expertise in travel. She has gained that insight and insider knowledge from her 28 years working in various aspects of the travel industry. The destinations she is most passionate about include Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe. Having visited Hawaii over 8 times, Michele has plenty of suggestions for activities to try. One of many adventures she recommends is driving up to the Waimea Canyons in Kauai to take in the breathtaking views with a stop in Hanapepe at Salt Pond to swim and snorkel, and another break at the Fern Grotto to experience the fern covered lava rock and gardens. Michele has also frequented plenty of warm-weather destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean by land and by cruise and enjoys the history and architecture of each unique destination.

For those looking to travel a little farther, Michele is quick to recommend a trip to Italy, South Africa or a European river cruise. In addition to seeing the landmarks in Rome, Venice, and Florence, Michele often suggests her clients stay in a villa in the beautiful Tuscany region to visit the charming small towns, enjoy good food and wine, and take in some cooking classes. In South Africa, Michele encourages clients visiting Cape Town to travel to Victoria Falls to venture on a thrilling safari at the Saba Saba Game Reserve. A big fan of river cruises, Michele believes it is a great way to get an in-depth experience into a particular country/culture.

She looks forward to sharing her knowledge with you and offering you a worry free vacation!

Destination Expert:

  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Canada
  • Europe

Travel Specialist:

  • Escorted/Independent Tours
  • Spa and All-Inclusive Vacations
  • Cruises
  • Destination Weddings
  • Honeymoons
  • Family Travel

Travel Certifications:

  • Marriott Hotels
  • AM Resorts
  • Sandals
  • Walt Disney World
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Apple Vacations
  • CIE Tours
  • Rail Europe
  • Starwood Hotel & Resorts
  • Hawaii Destination Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise
  • Collette Vacations
  • Working towards Uniworld River Cruises

Paula Scholten, Travel Expert

Email: pscholten@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Paula has over 20 years of experience as a business travel agent on many large corporate accounts and was selected to serve as a team lead on many of these. She is highly skilled in both domestic and international airline travel and provides a superior level of service to her clients.

Making a personal connection with travelers and travel arrangers is the most rewarding part of Paula’s job. She strives to make the booking process as seamless as possible for the traveler to give them peace of mind that everything will be handled in a timely manner.  Paula enjoys the relationships she builds with repeat clients and wants each traveler to look forward to making their travel arrangements with her.

Janet Taylor, Travel Expert

Email: jtaylor@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Working with clients who are planning a trip of a lifetime holds a special place in Janet’s heart as she enjoys watching their dream come true. With over 31 years of experience in the travel industry, Janet is well versed in leisure and business travel and spent many years coordinating meetings and special events as well as developing and managing group tours.

Janet looks forward to planning trips that are very specific to her client’s needs whether it’s a destination she is very familiar with or one she needs to research and learn about. She prides herself on her attention to detail and ability to assess a travelers needs when she puts together a custom itinerary.

The destinations that most excite Janet to explore are typically off the beaten path where there are cultural and/or language barriers. She has been on over a dozen cruises and also loves adventure trips like Kenya and China.

Destination Expert:

  • China
  • Africa
  • Russia
  • Cruises to Caribbean, Mexico and Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Caribbean and Mexico

Travel Specialist:

  • Skiing and Winter Sports
  • Family Vacations
  • Beach Vacations
  • Group Travel
  • Overseas Travel
  • Adventure Travel

Travel Certifications:

  • Certified Travel Consultant (CTC)

Jennifer Walters, Travel Expert

Email: jenniferw@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Jennifer loves matching her client’s interests to the perfect vacation spot. She has over 17 years of experience as a travel consultant and enjoys helping clients plan their honeymoon, destination wedding, romantic getaway or family vacation.

A frequent traveler herself, Jennifer has experienced many destinations within Mexico as well as many islands in the Caribbean. A few of her favorites include Riviera Maya, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jennifer makes it a priority to go above her clients’ expectations such as contacting the resort or hotel before their arrival to make sure their requests are taken care of. She looks forward to helping you find an exciting destination for your next trip!

Destination Expert:

  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Cruising
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Disney

Travel Specialist:

  • Honeymoons
  • Destination Weddings
  • Family Vacations
  • Beach Vacations
  • All-Inclusive
  • Couples & Romance
  • Adult Only
  • Escorted Tours
  • Independent Travel

Travel Certifications:

  • Sandals Specialist
  • Destination Wedding Specialist
  • AM Resorts Master Agent

Our Support Team

 

Ingrid Boes, Operations Support Specialist

Email: iboes@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-798-9950

During her extensive career in the travel industry, Ingrid realized her passion lay in working behind-the-scenes providing support to clients and fellow travelers. She enjoys coordinating the small details that add to a client’s overall vacation experience and loves the sense of accomplishment when a project is completed.

She has over 25 years of experience in all aspects of the travel industry. She began her career in the leisure department booking vacation travel and has hosted large cruise groups as well as facilitated historical study tours to Israel and Turkey. She has also worked in corporate travel for VIP travelers which included making reservations, monitoring flights and documentation requirements, and coordinating hotel reservations, added amenities and extra requests like limo service.

Ingrid has traveled extensively over the years, however, Israel and Turkey with their rich history remain at the top of her list of most memorable vacations.           

     

 

Donni Jonas, Business Operations Manager

Email: djonas@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Donni has over 25 years of experience managing accounting functions for corporations and over 20 years spent specifically in the travel industry. Through the years, Donni has done everything from file brochures to serve as Office Manager and she loves the variety of duties she performs as it is never monotonous.

Along with managing the back-office functions of a large travel agency, Donni also works closely with independent travel advisors located across the country. She enjoys multi-tasking to stay on top of everything and her favorite part of her job is working with all types of travel professionals.

Donni’s favorite travel destination has yet to happen as New Zealand is number one on her bucket list. She loves any type of vacation that combines adventure with relaxation – exploring new destinations and taking in local culture is always a plus.  

 

Beane Lynema, Support Specialist

Email: blynema@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 888-600-7470

As a Support Specialist, Beane works hard to provide our members the support they need in a timely manner. No stranger to the travel industry, Beane has been working in a variety of sales and support roles helping clients, travel agents and members for over 30 years. Her favorite part of her job is hearing that clients had their best vacation ever thanks to us!

Beane enjoys traveling and loves the Caribbean. She has vacationed on a variety of islands and has been on over 10 cruises to the Caribbean. She says Tortola tops her list for being a small intimate island with lovely beaches and super nice people.

 Travel Certifications:

  • Certified Travel Consultant (CTC)

Vickie Meeuwsen, APR, Director of Marketing and Communications

Email: vmeeuwsen@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Vickie has 19 years of experience in corporate communications, public relations and marketing. She has spent the majority of her career working in the travel industry with the past nine years at Travel Leaders Leisure Group (formerly the Carlson Vacation & Business Travel division of Carlson Leisure Group). There, she managed marketing and public relations programs for a variety of unique travel businesses and led a team of marketing and graphic design professionals.

Her expertise lies in managing the implementation of a variety of communications and marketing activities to support the company’s vision, mission and business objectives including customized website and email marketing promotions, media relations, social media management, and creation of newsletters, blog posts, and internal communications. Vickie has earned her APR (Accredited in Public Relations) designation from the Public Relations Society of America. Some of Vickie’s favorite travel destinations include Hawaii, Costa Rica, Brazil, Alaska and the California Coast.

 

Bethann Rahn, Business Development

Email: brahn@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 888-600-7470

Bethann has worked in a variety of positions within the travel industry for over 15 years, and now works hard to support employees and independent travel partners at Cruise & Travel Experts. Having a MBA in business and marketing increases her knowledge with marketing negotiations, plan creation, events, and training within the company. Her previous roles in leisure travel, vendor relations, and business development have helped give her the experience and insight to help agents and agencies increase their sales and profits through effective training and marketing programs.

Bethann’s favorite part of her job is working closely with vendors to educate travel consultants on exciting, new travel experiences they can offer clients. She is a strong advocate of using a travel advisor to help create a fulfilling vacation and believes these experiences help people make memories that they can talk about for years to come. She has two favorite destination areas. For relaxation in the sun, she enjoys walking the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and for history and culture, she likes traveling anywhere in Europe to see all the ancient buildings and learn their history.

Jody Ryland, Vice President of Sales and Operations

Email: jryland@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-590-1578

With nearly 30 years of experience in the travel industry in both corporate and leisure travel management roles, Jody most enjoys helping travel professionals reach their full potential. Jody has led large teams of employees and independent contractors in helping them grow their businesses through effective sales and marketing strategies. Jody keeps her focus on employee and independent contractor engagement and professional development as the key driver to ongoing success.

For the past 11 years, Jody served as the Vice President over several businesses within Travel Leaders Leisure Group which included all facets of the travel industry. Prior to that, she worked for both Navigant International and Carlson Vacation & Business Travel which later spun off to Travel Leaders Leisure Group. Jody initially got her start in the travel industry working for American Airlines.

Jody also has a great deal of corporate travel experience including new account sales and implementation along with providing an ongoing consultative approach to position products and services to achieve company growth and revenue goals.

Some of Jody’s favorite travel destinations include the Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda, and Italy.  She has sailed on over 50 cruises with some of her most enjoyable memories from sea spent snorkeling or diving in interesting coral reefs in the Caribbean. Another travel highlight of Jody’s was a helicopter ride into dormant volcanos in Hawaii.

Sharon Sikkema, Training & Education

Email: ssikkema@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Sharon’s first job in the travel industry had her doing everything from selling travel to deicing aircraft. Thirty years later, Sharon has built a successful career inspiring, managing and training travel agents.  She worked at Worldspan/Travelport as a GDS trainer for seven years, and spent the last 11 years as a training consultant for Carlson Wagonlit Travel (later named Travel Leaders).

Sharon enjoys helping others learn and develop their knowledge base and careers. She prefers working with professionals who want to learn rather than those who are told to learn. Nothing makes Sharon happier than when a travel advisor advances their career by putting her best practices in place.

Tom Baumann, President

Email: tbaumann@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Tom Baumann has more than 30 years of strategic travel leadership. Prior to founding Cruise & Travel Experts, Tom most recently served as President of Travel Leaders Leisure Group division of Travel Leaders Group which encompassed a variety of business and leisure travel entities. Tom was responsible for overseeing the complete portfolio of unique travel brands which included up to 200 employees and had multi-million dollar annual revenues.

Tom initially got his start in the industry by opening Travel Right, Inc. in West Michigan in 1987 and grew it to become one of the largest and most successful franchises of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. After selling the company to Carlson in 2000, he continued to head the Carlson Vacation & Business Travel division within Carlson Leisure Group which later spun off to Travel Leaders Group.

Passionate about traveling, some of Tom’s stand-out destinations have been trips to Namibia and South Africa and also travel to Vietnam.  Tom has also been on more than 70 cruises with his favorites being the South Pacific, river cruising in Europe, and of course, the Caribbean. Having traveled many destinations around the world, one of Tom’s favorite sayings is “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money ever will be.”

Major recognitions in the travel industry include:

  • #1 Travel Agency in West Michigan
  • Carlson Circle of Excellence Winner 1997
  • Carlson Franchise of the Year 1995

“I am a strategic leader who will motivate my teams to ‘stop at nothing’ to deliver top customer service.”

Mark Schiffner, Vice President

Email: mschiffner@cruiseandtravelexperts.com
Phone: 800-750-7839

Mark Schiffner has spent 30 years building companies focused on helping small business owners manage and grow their operations. A veteran of the travel industry, Mark most recently spent five years as COO of Cruise Holidays, a travel franchise business which was part of the Travel Leaders Leisure Group (formerly Carlson Leisure Group).

During his 24-year career at Cruise Holidays, Mark led the creation and improvement of a variety of new programs and initiatives in travel technology, marketing, and training. He was initially tasked with developing Cruise Holidays in Canada, and later oversaw the expansion of Cruise Holidays International in the United Kingdom, and Australia. He also developed a home-based focused business for Carlson called SeaMaster Cruises, which eventually merged with Cruise Holidays.

Ireland, Italy and most of Eastern Europe top Mark’s list of favorite travel destinations. He has also been on over 120 cruises so knows a thing or two about life at sea. His front-runners include river cruises down the Danube and Rhine rivers, as well as cruises in the Greek Isles and Caribbean.

“I am passionate about business and travel. Building and striving with a team is what motivates me.”

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