Business Development Director
Home base: Miami
Years in the travel industry: 43
As a Business Development Director at TourismSolved, Maria Blanco knows relationships matter. And she wants tour operators to understand she is here to help them grow their businesses on their direct channels. For more than four decades, Maria has worked in sales and account management for the likes of American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Tripadvisor. At the end of the day, travel is about "seeing new places and meeting new people," she says. It's something she's got plenty of experience in, with favorite spots noted as Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, Monaco, Paris, Napa Valley, Washington DC, Vail, Alaska, Madrid, Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Cartagena, Cuba (where she was born), Lugano, Assisi, Rome, Capri, Madeira, and the Caribbean islands.
Sharing her love of travel with family is what brings it all together for her. "Some of my favorite travel memories are with my nieces. I took my niece to Europe for her 15th birthday. It was her first trip to Europe, and seeing her face light up when she saw the Eiffel Tower was priceless. The other time was taking my youngest niece to New York and teaching her how to hail a cab."
Learn more about Maria
What motivates you to stay in the travel industry?
Seeing new places, discovering what makes that country unique and special. I believe that no matter how poor a country is, there is beauty to see whether it's the people, the land or the food. It's about sharing those places and experiences with others.
What’s one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?
I was in charge of introducing American Airlines (AA) to the Travel Agency community in Latin America in 1991. AA was not known in Latin America at the time. I conducted trade shows in 18 countries throughout the Americas — very successful and productive. AA quickly became the airline of choice in Latin America.
How do you see travel changing over time? What’s exciting about these potential changes?
Travel is not the luxury it once was, it's now available to everyone and every budget. That means more people are traveling now and they want to see the world and experience new things. It's no longer the bus tours visiting 10 countries in 14 days that was once popular; it’s now about experiencing local activities from cooking to tastings to local dance lessons. It's those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
What 3 things can every tour operator do to make their experience more enjoyable for travelers?
- Be clean, safe and on-time
- Combine with local flavor, in other words, make it a unique experience
- Hire experienced, friendly and knowledgeable guides
When you’re not working, where can we find you?
At anything or anywhere that has to do with wine and photography!
What's something surprising people might not know about you?
That I have never been to London!