Juliet Amazona goes the extra mile
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
JULIET Amazona once sang on a bus full of foreign tourists just to keep them entertained, one of the odder things she has done in her line of work, and surely the most memorable. She said it was her way of keeping their spirits high of what otherwise would have been a long, dull drive to the city from the south – a decision that more than anything, shows how devoted she is to her craft as a travel specialist.
The 31-year-old Juliet is the managing partner handling sales and marketing of iTravel, iExplore Tours & Services, a travel agency she co-founded. But the path in this industry came as a surprise for her, having taken up AB English in college that was meant as a precursor for law school. Much to her dad’s dismay – he had hoped she would follow his footsteps – after graduating, Juliet joined Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort, where in her six-year stay she had done stints in front office, sales, marketing and public relations.
It was in 2010 when she and biz partner Venice Juera started their agency, after seeing the potential of the burgeoning local tourism and travel industry. “We saw the potential,” she said, “And we also wanted to step out of our comfort zones and try a new challenge. It was a risk for me to shift, but because of the support of my family, friends, previous bosses and clients, and their belief in me, I was able to help myself to where I am today.”
Despite having succeeded far along in their venture, Juliet said she remains hands-on in operations with only a handful of staff on her side, as she multitasks in marketing and logistics, even in taking photos of her tour group, and, yes, singing. What keeps her going is the sense of fulfilment of seeing her client enjoying a successful and memorable trip, whether inbound or outbound, business or leisure.
“Giving out an extra-mile service is not easy but definitely worth it,” she said. “You will meet irate clients but if you give them a great experience, then surely you will gain friendship and loyalty with them. It’s like work and play.”
She has also met individuals with different personalities and from different cultures, and for her this has become a bonus, too. She said, “It’s nice to exchange ideas with them.”
First big event
Going a step further in her field, last July Juliet and her partners from MyEventology staged the first International Travel Festival at Ayala Center Cebu, a three-day travel mart that had various exhibitors including LGUs, hotels, resorts, tourists attractions, airlines, tour operators and visa specialists in attendance.
ITF, she said, was her first big event, as her background in events management had been limited to private functions for friends, family and clients. But if the jam-packed halls of the mall at that time were any indication, then it was considerably also a success.
On her feet
An always-on-the-go travel entrepreneur who often finds herself working even late in the evening, Juliet balances her week by spending time with family and catching up with friends, playing with her dog and her favorite, joining run races.
Around the same time she started iTravel, iExplore, Juliet also got into running, as part of her goal of having a healthy lifestyle. “I’ve done marathons and ultra-marathons including the Bataan Death March at 102k, which is still an unfinished business since I DNF’d at kilometer 55. The longest I’ve done was the 65K from the Provincial Capitol to Toledo City via the Transcentral Highway,” she said.
This month Juliet will be doing the run leg of her first Ironman, and aims to do all three soon. “Try-tri is on my list, so hopefully by next year I can call myself a tri-athlete.”
Travel, of course, is a given. Juliet named Batanes as her next dream destination. “I can’t wait to visit there soon,” she said. “I also love Palawan because of its natural resources, and Cebu – because everything is here and this is where my heart is.”
If there’s one thing the industry has taught Juliet over the years, it’s how important for everyone – travel agent or otherwise – to serve as ambassadors to their own places. She said, “By promoting and showcasing the Philippines, Cebu, or my hometown Dalaguete, it means to say that we’re ready to welcome visitors and ready to give fun experiences to tourists. It always starts within one’s self.”
Photography: Junmar Sprite G. Dulosa | Hair & Make-up Artist: Arnauld Airraveche
Assistant: Zeke Sullano | Locale: Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort