Today we’d like to introduce you to Mina Agnos.
Mina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a lifelong traveler, my passion compelled me to co-found Travelive in 2001, a full-service luxury travel company specializing in personalized travel experiences based on guest preferences.
Travelive originated from my thesis while completing my Master’s degree in Tourism Management at NYU. I had not intentionally set out to become a travel agent or entrepreneur, but the events of September 11th limited jobs in my field. I started with a five-page website at a time when Americans were looking to connect with people. I was able to compete with online booking engines on service, fine details, and personal connection.
Within a few years, it was clear that I was on to something and my husband joined the company as CEO. While I was responsible for the experiences, he brought a vision, process, and strategy.
Destination specialization took our business to a new level. As a Greek American having spent numerous summers in Greece, this was the obvious choice. I have traveled extensively throughout Greece and the world, hand-selecting hotels, of-the-moment restaurants, bespoke activities, and amassing local representatives and top local guides for Travelive clientele. This allowed us to build itineraries and curate experiences for a range of clients and travel styles.
As the business grew we opened out Athens office in 2008 to service our high level of business into the country. This was a great success and a model we were able to copy in other destinations as well.
Today Travelive is known for offering a high level of bespoke service specializing in Greece and other destinations including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Egypt, and Turkey. With offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Athens, Greece, as well as representatives in California and Brazil, Travelive offers a complete solution for travelers in established and emerging destinations.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I believe that times of crisis are where entrepreneurs emerge. Travelive was born out of crisis. In 2001, I was looking to expand my career prospects in the tourism industry, then September 11th happened. Having no viable career prospects, I opted to start a company to wait it out. In the process, I found my calling.
Since then we experienced a number of obstacles: the economic crisis in the US, protests and political issues in Europe, and most recently the economic crisis, capital controls, austerity measures, and the refugee crisis. All of these played in the international media, affecting travel decision making. Despite these challenges, business has continued to grow.
One of the biggest challenges for me was personal. Raising two kids (now 11 and 14) while building a business. I spent years working 12-15 hour days. I have spent a lot of time away from them. This definitely resulted in a feeling of guilt and questioning whether they would understand. I always felt that it was imperative that the time I spend with them is pure quality.
As they have grown older, I have found that they are proud of the accomplishments they have seen us achieve, they think its pretty cool. The best part is that they have a great first-hand example of making your own dreams come true and they believe that they are capable of doing the same.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Travelive – what should we know?
I truly believe that when a client hands you a part of their lifetime, it is essential to return and experience that is worthy of a magical lifetime memory. To this end, I am incredibly particular about our partnerships. I am known to make scheduled and incognito visits to preferred hotels and I regularly meet with vetted guides and drivers.
My dedication and multiple years of valuable luxury travel experience have led to some of my greatest achievements. I have been listed in Travel + Leisure’s A-List for seven consecutive years (2011-2017); featured as a top travel specialist in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016 and 2017 List; recognized as a Signature Travel Network Destination Specialist; was nominated for Wendy Perrin’s WOW List; is a Virtuoso Preferred On-Site Provider for Greece and received a Greek Tourism Award for Excellence in Customer Service.
Getting to the top is one thing, staying there takes work. I regularly travel in search of undiscovered areas in Greece, offering clients the opportunity to experience the destination as a local. My current favorite off the radar spots includes the Peloponnese, Ios, Milos, Zakynthos, and Koufonisia. I am always seeking new and unique experiences on ever-popular islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete.
Exclusive excursions can include visits to organic farms; yachting itineraries; private cooking lessons with local families; homemade wines and cheese tastings; olive oil pressing and tastings; baking and pastry lessons; winery tours featuring ancient techniques; “edutainment” travel for families focusing on mythology and Classical sites; scavenger hunt style itineraries and much more, creating authentic, once-in-a-lifetime vacations.
I strongly believe that traveling is an endless source of inspiration and education, for all ages. As a mother of two, I know that traveling is a great way to strengthen and renew family bonds by sharing fun and exciting experiences together.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Travelive would be nothing without our incredible team, past and present. It truly takes a village. Panos Chalvantzis has been an inspirational leader and mentor. Petros Halvantzis joined us in Athens in 2008 and has become an invaluable partner.
We have an incredibly dedicated team operating from Florida, California, Greece, and Brazil. We have a great group of partners including Travel Agents, Hotels, and Local Service Providers that are dedicated to delivering top service. And, we have incredible guests who share their experiences with us and with their friends. They have created a valued referral network.
- Address: One South Ocean Boulevard, Suite 315
Boca Raton FL 33432
- Website: www.travelive.com
- Phone: 888 377 5483
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @mina_travelive
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/Mina.Agnos
- Twitter: @mina_travelive
Kornilios Sarantioglou, Travel + Leisure Magazine, Greek Tourism Awards