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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 4 years ago

Entrepreneur promotes travel through video segments

Tammy Levent promotes destinations worldwide through a new TV and web-based travel segment. Now, partially behind a powerful partner, she aims for increased exposure.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Travel agent and entrepreneur Tammy Levent wants Just Go Trav to be a household name.

What’s Just Go Trav? It’s a four-minute sponsored segment about niche travel sites and vacation ideas, airing on NBC, Youtoo America and various websites. Levent says the goal of the segments is to promote tourism and help consumers “buy smart” when it comes to travel.

To get household prominence, Levent, based in Pinellas County, is partnering with former “Shark Tank” investor and the man behind “As Seen on TV” merchandise Kevin Harrington to help bring the segment to a larger audience. Harrington lives in St. Petersburg and has supported multiple businesses.

Courtesy. Tammy Levent, Kevin Harrington and Jerry Penacoli.

Levent, Harrington’s travel agent for personal and business travel, says the prominent pitchman will treat the program like one of his products and promote it, so it will achieve a bigger national reach. “The great thing about Kevin is he has a brand and a name,” Levent says. “If he endorses something, you’re golden.” He also brings his expertise in television and entrepreneurship, she says, and will help her promote the segment like an infomercial — but for travel instead of a tangible product.

Just Go Trav segments range in topics from specific destinations such as Ireland, South Africa and Iceland to companies offering vacation packages. Levent says the segment could also be used to showcase products related to travel, like suitcases.

“We like to cater more to the unknown companies that still do great business,” she says. “I like to go to the companies that are not as commercialized. Let’s give the underdog a little credit and help them out.”

Just Go Trav’s model is to sell sponsored segments. Levent, who also owns Palm Harbor-based travel agency Elite Travel, says Just Go Trav has sold sponsorships for more than 40 weeks in 2018, and she thinks it will sell out the whole year.

"What we’re trying to work on is improving the way the travel industry is working now. We’re trying to get people to understand there’s more to travel than what you see online or read in a magazine." — Tammy Levent, creator, Just Go Trav

Clients, so far, include Teeming River Cruises, Exodus Travels, GOGO Vacations, Unico resort in Mexico, Villas of Distinction, Ladera Resort in St. Lucia and Silversea Cruises. Levent has also promoted destinations sponsored by tourism entities, such as the Jamaica tourism board. And Levent sees clients promoting cities and countries as a growing market for Just Go Trav this year.

Customers who are interested in something they saw on Just Go Trav can call Elite Travel to book the trip. In that way, the segment boosts both businesses.

While Levent declines to disclose Elite Travel’s revenue figures, she says she has built the agency to more than $120 million in travel business to date since she founded it in 1997. About 20 agents work with her firm.

On the consumer side, by watching her segment, Levent says viewers will be able to understand the value of what they’re getting with a certain trip and how they can book it. “My whole goal,” she says, “is to bring consumer awareness about other products they may not know about.”

Just Go Trav aims to offer consumers better information than what they can find online or from other sources. “We’re trying to get people to understand there’s more to travel than what you see online or read in a magazine,” she says.

There’s lots of misinformation to be found online, Levent says — and that impacts both travel agents and consumers. “Our industry needs education,” she says. “Travel agents really need to have a knowledge of the product. They need to know what the consumer is like and what they want to buy. Listen to the consumer. Know your consumer.”


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