With the launch of Carol Orton Travel last month, the Menlo Park resident of the same name is embarking on a third career. “I practiced law for about 15 years, and then after my two daughters were born, threw myself into being an educational advocate,” she says. “I was on the Menlo Park city school board, was president of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation and volunteered with the various school PTAs and PTOs. Now as an empty nester, I wanted to have my own business and be my own boss.”
Carol loves traveling and, in particular, the research that goes into planning a trip, which to her translates into not only reading in advance but also watching relevant movies. Over the years, she found herself making trip plans for her own family as well as friends. “I learned not everyone enjoys planning,” she says. “Some people just get overwhelmed with all the information. Plus, they don’t have the access to the deals, perks, and suppliers that you have as a travel consultant.
“My business model is that I don’t have set fees nor am I solely commissioned based. I start by talking with clients and listening to what they want. We talk about fees or commissions upfront. I want them to be happy with the service I’m providing and come back to me to plan their next trip.”
In preparation for her new career, Carol learned a few things that are not common knowledge. For example, she didn’t know that when you book a hotel through one of the large aggregate travel sites, you’re often put in the least desirable rooms. “People are driven to those sites in the hope of getting the best deal, but that isn’t always true,” she says. “Using an agent can net you low prices and additional perks like free breakfasts.”
Carol plans to weave some travel of her own while pursing her new career. “My goal,” she says, “is to help people create meaningful, memory-inducing trips. I’m hoping that people who know me from my Menlo Park community work will come to me thinking, ‘This is a person who won’t let me down.’”
Photo of Carol Orton taken in the travel section of Kepler’s Books by Irene Searles