Vicky Garcia proves that hard work and determination lead to business success. Despite dropping out of high school, Garcia rose up the ranks at Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, and is now the Chief Operating Officer and co-owner. In the process, she has become one of the most respected women in the travel industry. The Cuban-American and proud lesbian has also committed herself to charity work, including LGBT causes. We recently had a chance to speak to her about her various interests.
Why do you have such a passion for LGBT travel?
Garcia: I believe that people should be good to one another. That is not an LGBT issue—that is a human issue. When my partner and I wanted to get married in 2013, we had to go to New York City for a legal wedding. I took my personal story and shared it in a way that brought light to the issue within the travel industry. As soon as it was legal to get married in our home state of Florida, we renewed our vows with 99 other couples, including former boy band singer Lance Bass and his husband Michael Turchin in Fort Lauderdale—it was special to take a stand and represent that ALL love is love.
What is different for LGBT community members traveling?
Garcia: LGBT travelers should look for destinations that are LGBT-friendly. Safety should continue to be a top priority for LGBT travelers since globally there are still some advances that need to happen in some destinations—this is where a professional travel agent, who knows the best LGBT-friendly destinations, cruise lines, resorts and tours can come in handy.
How did you go from dropping out of high school to becoming such a successful businesswoman?
Garcia: I was always interested in learning but had to do it in my own way since I am not the traditional academic type. I call myself a “gadget girl” and am always teaching myself the latest in technology and am passionate about experiencing life to the fullest while traveling. Being creative, thinking outside the box, being tech curious, and always questioning the status quo has made me a successful businesswoman.
You have initiated a lot of charity programs, notably CP Cares. Describe the program and its effect on society.
Garcia: I am so proud of all we have done with Cruise Planners’ CP Cares program—we have positively impacted so many lives not only through the charities we support, but also through our franchise owners and our home office team. So many of us are impacted by the various types of cancer, so we passionately support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I held The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Women of the Year title in 2012 and continue to be involved and serve as the Vice-Chair on the Board of Trustees. Our team has helped raise more than $1 million during the past few years.
Photo Credit: travelpulse.com