Nona Mounir had an interest in being a travel professional from early adulthood.
"When I first got out of high school, I was shopping with my grandma and we walked by a travel agency. I got very excited. I wanted to get a job in that field, but couldn't find one without experience—and how do you get experience if no one will hire you?"
Fast forward through a career as a legal assistant, and Nona found her chance.
In 2005, Nona and her husband, Walt, traveled to Costa Rica for their honeymoon. It was Nona's first trip outside of the United States. "I absolutely loved it, and got bitten by the travel bug!" When they returned, Nona continued to work as a legal assistant, but the commute and work environment were stressful—so she started shopping around for a work-from-home opportunity. "I stumbled upon a destination wedding and honeymoon travel franchise, did my due diligence and purchased the franchise in 2006."
While the franchise Nona and Walt purchased specialized in destination weddings and honeymoons, she notes, "I've fallen in love with the travel industry in general and have branched out into general travel." Nona has continued to work as a legal and executive secretary, and transitioned from the franchise to a role as an independent contractor with Divine Destination Weddings/Travel by Divine, in Sacramento, California.
Part of the joy in her work comes from helping others have great experiences: "I'm passionate about our planet—getting to know and see as much of it as possible. It's exciting to help young people who have never traveled out of the country." And travel consultants, she adds, have some pretty cool tools at our disposal: "I can do more for them than an app can! When people come back, and they've had a wonderful time, they're thankful for my hard work and they want to go again!"
As a new travel consultant, Nona relied on the expertise of fellow franchise owners to answer questions. "I attended every training I could get my hands on."
Nona learned about ASTA , signed up, and got in touch with Sacramento Chapter Director Lucille Carter about ASTA benefits and involvement. "I started attending meetings and got more involved, beginning with greeting people at the door at meetings and eventually working with the leadership team, assisting with membership drives, event planning, and other areas. I am up to my ears in ASTA and I really love it."
Her advice to fellow travel professionals? "If you're going to be in ASTA, focus on growing your community and being active in your local chapter. Get involved!"
Written by Jennifer Reynolds.
Photo courtesy of Nona Mounir.