Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: February/March 2009
Travel Agent Profile: Lillian Smalls
By: Victoria Head

LILLIAN SMALLS
EASY FLOW TRAVELS

Running a minority-owned travel business out of her hometown in Manchester, New Jersey, came with its share of challenges to overcome for Lillian Smalls of Easy Flow Travels. Manchester has a less than 14% minority population and it seemed that many thought Smalls should seek out a more ethnic neighborhood to do business in. She was told that starting her business in Manchester would be too hard, too costly and unappealing to the city of Manchester. For sometime Smalls had been in charge of arranging vacations, conferences and conventions for her church, family & friends and really enjoyed doing it. The idea of going into the travel business for herself seemed a natural progression, despite the appearance of many obstacles. So, with the encouragement of her husband, her love for the business and faith in God, Smalls forged ahead and set out to do what some felt would be a losing battle.

Smalls enrolled in a Travel Agent course at the Lakehurst Naval Base and subsequently was hired at Monarch Travel, where she just happened to be the only minority in the company. Her beginnings were challenging; the company had little resources for aiding Smalls in obtaining the necessary information needed to service minority client's travel needs. After some time with Monarch Travel, Smalls took that big leap of faith and started Easy Flow Travels.

Although many of her initial clients were out of state, things took off much better than she had been told they would. Smalls stated, "In this new venture I made it a point to reach out to friends, colleagues and other organizations for the information I knew I needed to make my business a success. That's when a friend told me about TPOC." TPOC (Travel Professionals of Color) is an international organization that promotes education, networking and the support of minority travel professionals. They specialize in providing quality training to assist agents in effectively reaching the vast expanding "niche" market of the multicultural minority travel community.

Through TPOC, Smalls learned more about travel destinations for African-American and other ethnic travelers. She met people she could converse with, network with and share common experiences with. "My eyes came opened with so much information regarding the amount of cultural heritage many destinations had to offer. I was able to come out-of-the-box with my travel suggestions and consider other exciting destinations for my clients such as South Africa, Brazil and Costa Rica for their cultural celebrations, holidays, parades and true local color," says Smalls. Smalls feels that continually getting educated in one's field is very important. The travel industry is ever changing with new developments occurring daily.

Smalls' many satisfied customers are most impressed with the detail that she puts into her planning to make each trip special. It's also said that she knows how to stretch your dollar, providing the best deal for your budget. It's obvious to her clients that Smalls loves the travel business and loves servicing her customers at Easy Flow Travels. She's so glad she stepped out on faith and followed her dream. "If you have a dream or vision, always follow it," says Smalls. "When someone tells you that you can't, that's when you push all the harder. Never let fears keep you from obtaining your goals."

Currently Smalls' pioneering efforts continue as she desires to further grow her company in the Manchester, New Jersey area and beyond. She's desirous of more offices and wants to be able to do more to aid other minorities in entering into the industry in Manchester. "I want to be able to educate other minority travel professionals in the abundance our market has to offer. Whether group travel, cruises, family reunions, church fund-raisers, business trips, conventions or honeymoons, there are great destinations that are affordable and have so much to share with the traveler who wants to learn of [his/her] culture and not just visit the surface," adds Smalls.

For more on great travel destinations, you can contact Lillian Smalls at Easy Flow Travels by phone: (732) 323-8262; email: easyflowtravels@aol.com; website: lseasyflowtravels.com.

Advertisement

Don't Book a Meeting