A Trailblazer Who’s Still Going Strong

Originally published in Travel Weekly by Laura Del Rosso on August 24, 2014

Ellen Paderson was a pioneer 20 years ago. She opened a home-based travel agency during a time the business model wasn’t recognized or respected much. Today, the travel industry landscape is vastly different.

Paderson and her agency, Smiles and Miles Travel of Easton, Mass., have repeatedly been recognized for their success, most recently with the Golden Egg Award from the American Marketing Group’s Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST).

NEST, a marketing organization with 500 independent agencies, honored Paderson with the award as one of the group’s top 15 home-based entrepreneurs based on sales.

Twenty years ago, Paderson saw an ad for a travel course and had a vision. “I was in a sales and marketing job for a food broker and thought that travel would be fun. I thought I could work out of my home. When you’re in sales and marketing, you can sell anything, and I had a passion for traveling.”

At the time, learning a GDS (in her case, Sabre) was essential, and most client communication was over the telephone. “It was a lot of hard work. I took people’s calls every minute of every day. I promoted myself everywhere. I had young children, and I’d be at their ballgames and I’d be talking travel with the other mothers. It’s different from a brick-and-mortar agency where people walk in. I couldn’t rely on that.”

Paderson was with the now-defunct Joystar host agency for a time and then joined NEST. She also served as the Massachusetts director for the Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN), the home-based association of independent agents. Paderson said she believes OSSN helped boost the visibility and promote the professionalism of home-based agents in the early years of growth for the new business model.

“Like in other professions, you’re going to get people who are hobbyists. And it took a while for people in the industry to realize that there are home-based agents who are big sellers,” she said. “I believe that OSSN was a great contributor to that. There are home-based agents today who are producing more than brick-and-mortar agencies.”

Paderson attributes her success to focusing on lucrative specialties: destination weddings, honeymoons and bar mitzvahs.

Paderson, who believes she’s the only travel agent offering destination bar mitzvahs, partnered with a Florida-based cantor who flies to destinations to conduct the ceremonies. Typically, family groups are 20 to 30 people; her largest has been a group of 80. Because so many Americans families are spread out geographically, the trips are used as reunions and combined with vacations, bringing far-flung family members together for a special occasion.

“Every year, it’s grown and grown. It’s at least 50% of my business now. Families work with the cantor to scale it to whatever the family’s needs are. We do a lot in Italy. I’ve done one in a villa in Puerto Rico. I’ve arranged some on St. Thomas, where there is a temple with a lot of history and meaning. We’ve done them in a rain forest in Costa Rica, on cruise ships and at all-inclusive resorts on a beach or conference room.”

For Paderson, her business is a calling. “I don’t really see any downside. The only pitfall is sometimes I can never stop working. I get up every morning and can’t wait to get to work.”

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Smiles and Miles Travel Named in Top 15 Home-Based Travel Entrepreneurs in U.S.

Ellen&LeonBOSTON, MASS. (Issued July 2014) — For the second consecutive award cycle, Ellen Paderson of Easton, Mass., (shown in photo with husband Leon) and her Smiles and Miles Travel, Inc., have won the coveted Golden Egg Award from the American Marketing Group’s Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST).

Paderson and Smiles and Miles Travel were recognized from among hundreds of travel professionals as one of the top 15 home-based industry entrepreneurs across the U.S. The group has over 500 member agencies.

NEST rankings are based on the value of member travel bookings. NEST helps home-based travel agencies “achieve greater success financially, professionally, and personally by championing solutions and opportunities for them.” The organization, comprised of the finest home-based agent professionals in the industry, connects suppliers, such as cruise and resort operators, with travel agents to create opportunities, strengthen partnerships, and enhance profits.

The presentation was made by NEST President Kathryn Mazza-Burney at the Global Travel Market Conference at the Boca Raton Beach Club and Resort in Boca Raton, Florida.

For more information, contact Ellen Paderson: 508-238-4088 / Fax.508-238-9817; Email: ellenp1@comcast.net / Website: www.smilesandmilestravel.com

– By Stanley Hurwitz stanhurw@comcast.net / 508-269-0570

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A Summer Bermuda Cruise

Leon and I spent a relaxing week in July, cruising to Bermuda from Port Liberty, New Jersey, aboard the comfortable Celebrity Summit. It was an easy Sunday-morning drive from Boston to the port, with plenty of parking and a simple boarding process.  In no time we were stepping off the gangway in Bermuda….no worries, no stress.

The weather was balmy and not too humid, the water warm and brilliantly clear for snorkeling and swimming – heaven!

Horseshoe Beach, Bermuda - lovely!

With fewer crowds than in May or October, we traveled easily around the island by taxi, motorbike and ferry–

On the ferry to Hamilton, Bermuda's bustling main town

My favorite feature of the cruise was meeting a wonderful group of fellow-passengers on the Summit. We made many new friends and created great memories on our summer cruise adventure!

Let me know if you’re thinking about a Bermuda cruise, or if you want more information about Celebrity cruises or other cruise lines – I know them all.

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Panama!

Good news for New Englanders!
Beginning in July, 2013, Copa Airlines will be offering daily flights from Boston to Panama City. This is exciting not only for travelers who want to visit Panama, but also as an alternative to connecting via Miami enroute to destinations in Central and South America.

Contact me at Smiles and Miles Travel if you’re interested in planning a trip!

In October, Leon and I enjoyed several days on a land-based fam (familiarization) trip to Panama with a travel agent group. In addition to the expected Canal tour, we were delighted to discover the deeper culture of Panama, and to visit some world-class resorts and beautiful countryside. Like my Panama hat?


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Sail across the sky!

Another item checked off the bucket list – ride in a hot air balloon!

Leon and I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to soar over beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona on a clear day – smooth sailing with phenomenal views!  The ride was a huge thrill we’ll never forget.  Our experience was planned by ScottsdaleTourism for myself and other Affluent Traveler Collection members Now I can add hot air ballooning to zip lining, parasailing and my other favorite recommendations for discerning travelers!

Leon and I (left) getting ready for our spectacular balloon ride over the Arizona desert!

We’re adventurous here at Smiles and Miles Travel and Bar/Bat Mitzvah Vacations!   We love planning exciting activities for your destination wedding, honeymoon, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and other family celebrations, in a range of locales from relaxing to exciting to exotic.

Contact Ellen now to start checking off your bucket list – up, up and away!

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Caribbean Dreams – St. Lucia

Leon and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary at Sandals La Toc and Sandals Grande in beautiful St Lucia. Sandals surprised us with a butler when we arrived! Thank you Sandals!!  We had a wonderful time!!!


Love the swim-up suites!

Beautiful beach wedding!

Plenty of fun activities...first time riding horseback in a swimsuit!

St. Lucia - great romantic getaway for a destination wedding, honeymoon or anniversary!

Contact Ellen for help in matching your vacation dreams and budget to the best possible destination for you!

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My new ride celebrates Sandals and Beaches resorts!

Got my new Mobile Office wrapped in party mode to let the world know I’m excited about Sandals and Beaches Resorts as great destinations for couples and families!

Here’s how the Modern Travel Agent rolls:

Sandals & Beaches Resorts by Smiles & Miles Travel

Love my new ride celebrating family vacations - that's what Smiles & Miles Travel is all about!

Sandals adult resorts are perfect for destination weddings, honeymoons and anniversary celebrations, while Beaches is the place for carefree family getaways. Because they are all-inclusive, these resorts are kind to your budget with no pricey extras to bite into your wallet.

I’ve visited most of the Sandals and Beaches resorts in the Caribbean, and of course I have my favorites! Work with me to find the best match for your family’s travel requirements. Your leisure time is precious; make the right choice, relax, enjoy the Sandals and Beaches experience!

Call me! 508-238-4088 –0r– Contact Me via Email!

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Celebrity Silhouette Cruise

We just enjoyed a 2-night cruise from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on the brand-new Celebrity Silhouette, the latest of Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships.   Awesome!

Entertainment by Kenny G!

Magnificent 2800-passenger ship with all the amenities you could want!

Plenty of places to relax and enjoy the ship.

We especially loved relaxing on deck in the sun - cheers!

Have a question about the Celebrity Silhouette?  or just wondering which cruise would be best for you, your family and your budget?  Send me an email or give me a call at 508-238-4088; I’m always happy to discuss the many travel and cruise options we offer at Smiles and Miles Travel!

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Unspoiled Portugal

I enjoyed our off-season tour of the cities and countryside of Portugal.  Loved the people, the vineyards and the Old-World feel of the country!  Call me if you’d like to visit Portugal!

 

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