Meet Eysa

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Eysa Portugues spent hours flipping through treasured stacks of her mother’s National Geographic magazine collection.

Page after page, the faraway destinations, cultures, and people captivated her—Machu Picchu, the Grand Canyon, and so many others.

“I was obsessed,” Eysa said.

The glossy photos, coupled with a worn children’s atlas she lugged around, fueled dreams of globetrotting—something her family encouraged. Letters and mementos from her mother’s South Korean pen pal and her own pen pal from Singapore also inspired her to see the world.

When Eysa was 14, her father asked her to pick between a party to celebrate her upcoming Quinceañera or a birthday trip. Eysa didn’t hesitate. Soon, her family was making plans to take Eysa on her first cruise.

“My mentality was always ‘where can I go next and how soon?’” Eysa said. “I always knew that I would travel the world. I just didn't always know when or how.”

Fast forward several decades, and Eysa has figured it out. She is now the founder and proud owner of THE SPLENDID LIFE | Travel Designs, an affiliate of Gifted Travel Network—a Virtuoso® member.

‘What’s going to happen?’

Eysa’s path to becoming a travel entrepreneur wasn’t straightforward.

For years, she successfully climbed the corporate ladder, taking a job that moved her, her husband, and their then 2-year-old son from Puerto Rico to Texas. Eysa transitioned roles and companies over the next decade and a half, never forgetting those National Geographic magazines and traveling often with her family.

Then, turbulence jolted Eysa’s world.  

At the beginning of 2020, as Covid-19 was starting to wreak havoc, Eysa found herself without a job after going through a layoff. As she searched for a new career, the job market did not respond as she hoped and Eysa had to consider other paths.  

For months, Eysa worked part-time gigs, including with the Census during the summer of 2020. As she debated her next professional step, she couldn’t shake the thought: ‘What if I start my own travel business?’

She asked herself two key questions:

  1. Is travel an industry in which I can thrive?
  1. Is it smart to start a travel business during a global pandemic?

Thorough research answered her first question: Yes! While Eysa didn’t know it at the time, the profession would soon face unprecedented demand as lockdowns lifted around the world.

As for her second question, Eysa was ready to bet on herself. She went for it.

A ‘splendid’ new chapter

Eysa’s research led her to the luxury consortium Virtuoso, which then introduced her to Gifted Travel Network. She soon set up an interview with the host agency to learn more about its award-winning 12-month Travel MBA program. Before she hung up the phone, Eysa knew it was the right fit for her.

“I didn’t have 10 years to figure out how to establish a travel business on my own,” Eysa said. “I needed a solution to help me fast-track the foundation of my business and leverage the skills I could bring to the table. I needed the right mentors and affiliations. I didn’t have time to dabble.”

The Travel MBA program combines coaching calls, on-demand content, mentoring, and more tools to help travel advisors build successful luxury travel businesses. The material includes both entrepreneurial topics and travel industry-specific education. While the program was designed originally for new-to-industry advisors, like Eysa, many experienced travel advisors who haven’t yet found success also enroll.  

“Eysa is a shining example for whom we meticulously designed the Travel MBA Program. It’s for those people who were born with an insatiable hunger to explore the world and share their treasured findings with others. They don’t realize their guilty pleasure that helps them escape from reality can be turned into a business and life they love. We know it can happen and we show them how,” said Gifted Travel Network Chief Visionary Officer and Co-Founder Meredith Calloway.

After the Travel MBA program, members move into Accelerate alongside other advisors in the Gifted Travel Network community. Accelerate provides continuing education and professional development in a collaborative environment. The program meets advisors where they’re at, regardless of whether they’re a top producer, recent Travel MBA graduate, or anywhere in the middle. Coaching and mentoring are at its core.

“The mentoring provided by Gifted Travel Network is certainly the number one reason I’ve been successful,” Eysa said.

Success, indeed.

Eysa’s annual sales with THE SPLENDID LIFE | Travel Designs grew 604% between 2022 and 2023.

“Beyond the mentoring, I’ve also been impacted by the generosity of fellow Gifted Travel Network members,” Eysa said. “So many times, I’ve turned to the community for advice. Everyone always just piles on love and encouragement.”

Love is something Eysa knows a few things about herself—love for her business, love for her clients, love for travel, love for her family. She feels it every morning as she wakes up to live out her travel entrepreneurial dream.

Several years in now as a travel advisor, Eysa still feels as grateful for every booking as when THE SPLENDID LIFE | Travel Designs opened its virtual doors. Serendipitously, the first trip inquiry Eysa ever received was for an island she treasures even more than her childhood National Geographic magazines…

Her homeland. Her island of enchantment, Puerto Rico.

[breakout box on page] Are you a travel advisor looking for a new host agency—one that prioritizes professional (and personal) growth in a supportive community of thriving luxury travel advisors? Learn more about our Accelerate program or apply to Gifted Travel Network today!

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