According to the U.S. Travel Association, $296.3 billion a year is spent on business travel while $650.8 billion is spent on leisure travel. Further, U.S. residents logged 455 million person?trips for business purposes in 2015, and 1.7 billion person?trips for leisure purposes the same year. This is good news for Elizabeth Blount McCormick, president and co-owner of UNIGLOBE Travel Designers.
In business for 35 years, UNIGLOBE is an MBE certified travel management company that specializes in both corporate and leisure travel. Recently, McCormick was honored as the U.S. Small Business Administrations (SBA) Minority Small Business of the Year. Each year, the honor goes to a successful minority-owned business that also serves as an advocate for other minority-owned businesses.
I am so excited that we have been named the Minority Small Business of the Year, says McCormick. I am committed to working with and mentoring other women-owed and minority-owned businesses whenever I can. I also believe strongly in building diversity in my own company. We live in a global society, and I believe that our companies, therefore, should represent the society in which we live.
McCormick, a graduate of Spelman College, is also a finalist for the Visionary Award, an honor given out by the Columbus, Ohio, Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Here, McCormick talks a bit about why travelers should book their next trip through UNIGLOBE and what sets the company apart from the rest.
TNJ.com: Tell me about UNIGLOBE Travel Designers.
Elizabeth Blount McCormick: We provide travel management services for corporations and leisure clients. In doing that, some of what we do is create travel policies, which are the rules that actually govern the booked travel. We negotiate discounts with car rentals companies, hotels, and airlines on behalf of our corporate clients; send out reporting on a monthly basis, so that companies understand where their spend is and understand the opportunities to actually control the spend; and last, we ensure that our clients travelers are safe and accounted for at all times. Our clients feel like they are responsible for their travelers, so they need to know where their people are at all times. When you book with us, you have consultants who are working to rescue people in the event that something tragic happens.
TNJ.com: With so many other travel companies out there, why should corporations and leisure clients choose UNIGLOBE?
E.B.M.: There are a lot of organizations spending a lot of time playing travel agents, costing companies money. They could be using their time doing something else. And when it comes to booking your own trip, a lot of people have been burned when using companies that offer cheap trips. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. We are the experts, and people know that my team has traveled extensively. When it comes to a destination trip, a wedding, an excursion, or family reunion, were going to recommend someplace where weve been. This way, you know exactly what youre getting.
TNJ.com: You were recently named SBA Minority Small Business of the Year. What about your business do you think garnered that special honor?
E.B.M.: We have demonstrated significant service and growth. Our motto is that our customers are always right even when they are wrong. We really go above and beyond. We have a service agreement that we commit to which is a commitment to our clients. So, you will not get voicemail during the day. You will speak to a live person when you call. That makes a huge difference. Service is hard to come by these days. I am accessible, and respond to emails. Also, we customize all of our programs in meeting our clients needs since no client is the same.
TNJ.com: With women-owned businesses on the rise, what are some principles you have applied to your own business that you think aspiring women entrepreneurs can benefit from?
E.B.M.: Helping another woman out. Our PR company is woman-owned. Our attorneys are women. We try to give people an opportunity who may not have had opportunities elsewhere. Someone opened the door for me so I want to do the same for someone else.
TNJ.com: What are some challenges you deal with? ?
E.B.M.: Sometimes people dont take me seriously. Being a young, Black woman, I often have a lot to prove when I walk into a room. And thats fine because that has been the case my entire life. The diversity aspect is a gift and a curse, and it can be difficult but you have to get over the stereotypes that are often associated with being minority companies. I just want the opportunity to present. Overcoming those hurdles are my biggest challenges.
TNJ.com: Tell me about the competition.
E.B.M.: Our services put us above the rest. People will come to me and complain about the mega travel companies they deal with because they are not getting that personal touch. We offer that personal touch and its the reason why we are different and we stand out.
TNJ.com: You are a finalist for a Visionary Award that is awarded by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) to women business owners who contribute to their communities. Tell me about your community involvement.
E.B.M.: I am a member of NAWBO, Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) and a board member of the United Way. Currently, I am involved in a program where we mentor women who are in transition. Maybe theyve had hardships and had to stop working for some reason, etc. It is my second year mentoring on the message of self-worth, of having something for yourself, and taking care of yourself. I mentor a lot of young Black women, talking to them, giving them guidance, and connecting them with the right people for opportunities. I try to spend a few hours a week mentoring people and giving them exposure and experience.
TNJ.com: How and why did you launch the business?
E.B.M.: My mom purchased the business in 1996. Growing up, we used the company for personal spring and summer travel and the original owner approached my Mom and asked her to become his partner. She did, and ended up buying him out. It was a hobby that she grew into a successful business. In my adult life, Ive worked in retail, and traveled all over the world. I love to travel and you have to love what you do. So, in 2005 when she said she wanted to sell the company, my sister and I decided to move back home, buy the company and become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship was in my blood.
TNJ.com: Has social media been helpful in the success of your company?
E.B.M.: Yes! Social media has been key. I went to Spelman College and when someone inquires on social media about Black travel companies, my name often comes up. As a result, business has been crazy because of the people who can vouch for me.