About Gifted Travel Network
The landscape of travel has changed, and the path to profitability is simple: experts make more money.
Gifted Travel Network (GTN) was founded in 2013 by Meredith Hill, Jennifer Cochrane and Vanessa McGovern in response to the growing demand for a travel host agency that gives travel agents the freedom to build their own brand and establish their expertise. Through GTN’s sister company, the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) Meredith, Jen and Vanessa have coached hundreds of travel agents to achieve their potential through specialization. After hearing from agents that their hosts were not supportive of the specialization model, the team decided it was time to create a travel host agency that supports agents who want to sell the type of travel that they are truly passionate about.
The GTN leadership team knows how to support you, because they have been in your shoes. These three dynamic mompreneurs are sought-after industry speakers, educators and coaches who have launched and run their own successful businesses, all while juggling the busy schedule of having a full-time career and (between the three of them) seven children between the ages of 1-19.
You can have a highly profitable and successful travel business AND the lifestyle you desire. With the support of GTN you can design the travel business of your dreams, and take control of your business so that you run it instead of it running you. We understand the importance of belonging to a supportive community and having the work-life balance that is best for you.
Feeling successful yet unfulfilled, Meredith left her high-paying position as a Wall Street analyst so that she could focus on her passion for travel. In March, 2001, Meredith started her own travel company, Hills of Africa Travel, specializing in high-end customized tours to Africa. Like many other travel agencies, Hills of Africa Travel found itself struggling and in 2007 Meredith came to the realization that to be successful she needed to find a new way of doing things. Meredith used her gift for finding the path to success no matter what the odds. Realizing she had to revolutionize her marketing, she looked to other industries for direction, and began applying cutting edge, effective marketing techniques for the small business, learning in the process about the importance of passion, mindset and support for entrepreneurs in travel. In 2011, Meredith sold her shares in Hills of Africa Travel (which continues to be a thriving agency) in order to found the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE). GIFTE’s coaching and training programs have helped hundreds of travel professionals identify their brilliance, define their niche, and implement successful business strategies so that they can make more money selling travel. In addition to helping GIFTE Members, Meredith provides high-content insights to the travel industry through speaking engagements, published articles, and webinars. In working with GIFTE clients, it became clear to Meredith that many agents were having a hard time finding a host agency that truly supported them as travel entrepreneurs. As a result, Meredith teamed up with Vanessa McGovern and Jennifer Cochrane to found Gifted Travel Network, Inc. in 2013. In 2016, the American Society of Travel Agents named Meredith Hill Travel Entrepreneur of the Year for her work educating travel agents through GIFTE and GTN.
After nearly 20 years with the Federal Reserve, Jen left her high-level executive position for better quality of life and began her career as an entrepreneur in 2008. Her first entrepreneurial business venture was highly successful; when her business partner relocated in 2011, they sold the business at an 800% return on investment. The business continues to thrive under its current ownership. In 2012, GIFTE became one of Jennifer’s clients for whom she provided services on a freelance basis. In 2012, Jennifer gave up her other clients to work with exclusively with GIFTE and co-found Gifted Travel Network in 2013. Jen was responsible for the set up and launch of the host agency and is Gifted Travel Network’s EVP and Chief Operating Officer running the day-to-day operations of the host agency. Due to her extensive business background, Jennifer is also a coach for GIFTE’s Diamond Mastermind Program and Travel Business Consulting packages where she provides coaching in the areas of business management, finance, team building, operations/implementation, strategic planning and leadership.
Vanessa began her career working on board cruise ships, and quickly became a record-breaker in her role as Art Auctioneer. She was then recruited by Park West Gallery to train new auctioneers, manage cruise line accounts and launch multiple high revenue yielding programs. In 2009, Vanessa purchased a Cruise Planners/American Express franchise and was recognized by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the Top 30 Under 30 Travel Professionals. She went on to oversee new agent training programs as Training and Business Development Manager at Cruise Planners, where she was a part of the Gold Magellan Award winning team in 2010. In 2011, she joined Special Needs Group and played a critical role in the creation and launch of the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate program. In 2012, Vanessa joined the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) as VP of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, and in 2013, Vanessa founded Gifted Travel Network with Meredith Hill and Jennifer Cochrane. Today she proudly serves as CEO & Co-owner of GTN, now one of the fastest growing travel host agencies whose mission is to support entrepreneurial-spirited travel professionals. Vanessa’s passion for the travel industry is contagious and her mission is to continue to spread relevant and effective travel educational programs to all levels of the industry and to put travel professionals back on the consumer radar.
Lisa began creating custom itineraries for luxury clients in both Europe and Hawaii back in the early 1980s. Her knowledge of Hawaii, in particular, is unparalleled; she knows everything there is to know about the most desirable destinations and has a huge portfolio of contacts at the resorts who are positioned to deliver VIP treatment to her clients. Her Signature Escapes Facebook Fan page has become a great resource for travelers and suppliers alike. Since 2014, Lisa has dedicated a significant amount of her time and energy to coaching and supporting fellow agents as the mentor for GTN’s Travel MBA Program. She officially joined the GIFTE team full-time as Director of Training and Education in June 2017.
Sandy came to the travel industry after 10 years as a business and career coach. After encouraging hundreds of clients to follow their dreams, Sandy decided to pursue her own dream of working in the travel industry. After completing travel school, Sandy began working as an agent, but quickly moved into leadership. She has held management positions in training, marketing, and sales, and has worked with leisure and corporate travel, meetings and incentives, and home-based agents. Sandy has a master’s degree in communication from Queens University of Charlotte, and a bachelor’s degree in business from UNC Wilmington, as well as the Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) designation from The Travel Institute. After 17 years working in travel, Sandy is even more convinced that this is the best industry in the world and there continues to be tremendous potential for agency owners and agents. She loves introducing people to the industry and helping those already working in travel to be more successful by leveraging their skills and passion.
Sarah joined Gifted Travel Network upon graduating from North Carolina State University with a major in Business Administration concentrating in Finance. Leveraging her financial background along with her marketing creativity, Sarah devotes her time to the company as the Client Care & Operations Manager. Sarah first learned about the possibility of a career in travel in the summer of 2013 when she worked as an intern with our sister company, GIFTE. She loves her job and has never looked back!