Luxury Defined By You
NEIGHBOURS Magazine by: Anastasia V. Silva
Sometimes, when pursuing your passion, a leap of faith is all you need. When Mary Jean Tully launched her award-winning global travel agency, her enthusiasm for the industry was burgeoning. Tully Luxury Travel’s industry debut occurred after Tully, founder and CEO, persuaded the manager of a Chicago travel agency to interview her, not having the required experience. Within eight months of being hired, she was promoted to a management position. After moving to Canada in 1987, Tully launched The Cruise Professionals, rebranding in 2015 to Tully Luxury Travel. More than 32 years later, the travel company, whose original focus was cruise travel, has evolved into a multi-faceted organization offering safari adventures, premium cruises, and tailor-made travel experiences.
“I still have the first employee I ever hired,” boasts Tully, who was named ‘One of the Most Powerful Women in Travel.’ She emphasizes, “Having a team that is aligned and compatible makes the greatest difference in loving what you do on a daily basis and [in] staying motivated when life gets hectic!”
Since its launch, Tully’s agency – with a global clientele from as near as Mexico to as far as Australia – has also received countless accolades, from some of the most well-respected organizations, year-over-year.
Tully’s interest in the travel industry began when she was nine years old, while growing up next to a “globe-trotting flight attendant.” Since opening Tully Luxury Travel (located in Mississauga), Tully and her Travel Designers are committed to providing “life-enriching global travel experiences with a commitment to conservation and community.” Clients “are not calling a call centre, but a team of experts who have either lived in, worked in or travelled numerous times to the destinations they sell!,” says Tully, whose own travels have helped enhance her life experiences: “When I travel, I immerse myself in the culture, and the people who constantly teach me new things and broaden my perspective on life.”
Maintaining a steadfast approach to “working with several top cruise lines, resorts, and travel brands to create the most inspiring and enriching experiences,” Tully’s agency is one of the “top-producing agencies for numerous hotels.” Tully explains that her “powerful relationships with partners” allows her company to “arrange additional perks, such as room upgrades, early check-in/late checkout, or spa or bar credits, as well as extra amenities on cruises. According to Tully, everything in life is about relationships. “Working with a travel agency that has strong relationships with its vendors will provide the client way more perks than calling in an 800 number or going online and making a booking. We pride ourselves on the strength of the relationships we have developed with suppliers from all over the world, and our travel partners want to keep us happy because of the volume of business we provide them.”
Tully’s business motto, “Luxury Defined by You,” is behind everything that her company sets out to accomplish. “For some people, luxury is a 5-star hotel and fine dining experience, for others it is a backpacking adventure, or relaxing on a beach. Being up-to-date on everything a client needs to know about hotels, cruise lines and safaris while keeping in mind what would make the experience personally memorable, is very important to us.”
Equally important, says Tully, is to have a “giving back” mentality, which could involve bringing reusable straws to make less of an impact on the environment, distributing school supplies to help children, or eyeglasses to the visually impaired in underprivileged communities, and organizing beach clean-ups, all activities that “make such a difference.” She adds, “It is also great to contribute to the local economy by purchasing items locally, so you won’t have to worry about the additional weight when travelling.”
In addition to their approach to “giving back,” Tully Luxury Travel is positioned against the unethical treatment of animals. “We will not book any tours or excursions that compromise the treatment of animals,” says Tully. “I have taken a strong stance against booking any clients on hunting trips and will not book any experience that involves petting lions, riding elephants, or anything promoting unnatural wildlife behaviour.”
Although Tully is often away from home, on business, she says, “while I love my neighbourhood and local community, travel enriches us in ways we can never imagine. Wherever I am in the world -Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Hong Kong – people sit around the table with their kids and they laugh. To describe this commonality of people worldwide, Tully alludes to a personal experience: “When I sat and ate on the floor of a cave with a Berber family in the Atlas Mountains, I felt at home. Every time I visit somewhere, I return home more enriched. You don’t get these experiences staying put!”
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