Pioneering education organization the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) is shutting its doors after nearly 11 years spent helping travel advisors achieve their business and life goals. The GIFTE leadership team—and all of its employees—will now solely focus on serving advisors through GIFTE’s sister company Gifted Travel Network (GTN), an award-winning host agency.
GIFTE was started in 2011 by Meredith Hill, a former Wall Street analyst turned agency owner. Hill co-founded a travel agency that reached 7 figures in sales, but she was frustrated by the bumpy—and often lonely—road it took to get there. She then created GIFTE to fill a massive hole in the industry around entrepreneurial education and community. Hill’s original mission was to help travel entrepreneurs monetize their passion for travel, by moving beyond supplier-driven education and instead embracing cutting-edge marketing and business strategies.
Since then, GIFTE has grown to a community of more than 800 members, several coaching programs, and a flagship, Magellan-Award-winning event, the Book More Travel Workshop. GIFTE’s mission grew bigger, too. GIFTE evolved to help advisors not only achieve financial success, but more freedom, balance, and fulfillment in their lives as well.
That more ambitious mission sparked the GIFTE team’s interest in starting its own host agency for entrepreneurial-minded advisors. “As we coached more advisors through GIFTE, it became more and more clear to us that supporting them in a holistic fashion required a host agency,” said Hill. “A host agency would allow us to help them choose the right supplier partners, earn greater commissions, implement more efficient systems, and truly bloom under their own brands—so that they could create businesses on their own terms.”
Thus, host agency Gifted Travel Network was launched in 2013, with a unique-in-the-industry goal of encouraging its advisors to cultivate their own unique brands. Today, the Virtuoso agency hosts more than 400 advisors and has continued to grow at a rapid pace even amid an industry-shaking pandemic.
“We could not have predicted the kind of growth GTN has seen, and that growth has led us to sunsetting GIFTE today,” said Hill. “Focusing solely on GTN moving forward means our employees will no longer spread themselves too thin—and can instead fully support our hosted advisors in building their best businesses and lives.”
Hill hopes that GIFTE’s lasting legacy will be the sense of community and connections built between advisors who’ve realized they don’t have to go it alone. That’s the case for Julia Matheson, owner of Travel Julia’s Way, who participated in GIFTE’s coaching programs and is now hosted by GTN.
“I know my business would not be where it is today without the support of GIFTE,” said Matheson. “The tools and practices I learned have given me the knowledge and confidence needed to build the kind of business I love, which supports the lifestyle I want to lead. The greatest benefit from my GIFTE membership, though, was the lifelong friends I have made who are a constant source of inspiration and support. The community was truly amazing (and luckily is largely recreated at GTN!).”
That sense of community will carry on at GTN. The host agency will continue to produce GIFTE’s annual community-building event the Book More Travel Workshop—and all advisors, regardless of host affiliation, will be invited to join.
If you would like more information about the GIFTE or GTN, or to schedule an interview with GIFTE founder Meredith Hill, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.