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Technology has freed many travel advisors from the traditional geographic constraints to work where they please. And for some, Mexico has provided an ideal setting for running their U.S.-based businesses, even during the coronavirus pandemic.
Merida, the capital city of the state of Yucatan, has long been the home base of Ben Gritzewsky, senior independent travel advisor, Mexico and Latin America, at Houston-based Frosch.
“I began telecommuting about eight years ago and promptly realized that in our tech age, business runs virtually from anywhere,” he said. “Mexico is where I felt I needed to be. So, about five years ago, I decisively consolidated and settled.”
Kristen Gill, a travel advisor and the owner of Kristen Gill Travel, has found that living in La Paz, Baja California Sur, where she moved more than two years ago, has helped her become a destination specialist.
“I specifically chose to set up my international spot in La Paz as I was enamored by the place from my very first visit,” she said. “I've since become an expert in the Baja California Sur region, working closely with the tourism board and local tour operators.”
I specifically chose to set up my international spot in La Paz as I was enamored by the place from my very first visit. I've since become an expert in the Baja California Sur region, working closely with the tourism board and local tour operators.
Other advisors, meanwhile, made the decision to work from Mexico just as the coronavirus pandemic was developing. Jennine Cohen, owner of Magic, Momentum, Manifestation, a travel agency and consulting business based in San Francisco, made the decision to stay put in Yucatan after arriving in Mexico in January.
“I was here and busier than ever when the pandemic started,” she said. “And then everything came to a screaming halt, and I, like everyone else, was repatriating our travelers who were all over the world. I realized, wait a second — I'm abroad, too. I started receiving messages from the U.S. State Department urging me to get on a flight back to the U.S. or to be prepared to stay in Mexico indefinitely.”
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Cohen had to make a quick decision.
“After consulting with my Mexican friends, specifically the Yucatecos [people from Yucatan], I decided within 24 hours that maybe having to stay in Mexico indefinitely really was not such a bad thing, and I decided to ride it out here,” she said.
Operating During a PandemicWhile the amount of work may have lessened during the pandemic, the basic way of doing business remains the same for Mexico-based U.S. advisors, according to Frosch’s Gritzewsky.
“The way I serve my clients has not changed much, though transactions are much fewer, so I have a lot more time to devote to each one,” he said. “Before the pandemic, short-notice bookings were common. Fortunately, through this ordeal, I’ve had only a few cancellations, nobody stranded and no emergencies. Now, conversations are mostly about keeping in touch rather than business. Most people are very interested to hear firsthand what’s happening in Mexico, yet not quite ready to venture out.”
Gill also says that while her job stays the same, the focus has changed.
“My workdays look similar to the way they did pre-pandemic, although the demand for tourism and travel information has changed from ‘Where should I go?’ to ‘Is it safe to travel?’” she said. “Things have slowed down quite a bit, as people are wary of traveling right now. But I am still inspiring people on where to travel when they can safely do so.”
Gritzewsky has used downtime to expand his professional knowledge.
“With so much digital material available, I have definitely learned a lot more about Mexico and countless other subjects,” he said. “I’m better prepared to design future journeys, and I have lots of ideas. Staying optimistic, engaged and positive is imperative.”
Why They Love MexicoAdvisors report a variety of advantages when working from Mexico.
“One of the biggest benefits is economics: The dollar simply goes a lot further,” Gritzewsky said. “The lower costs of doing business and living generally add value to clients’ experiences, and also translate into higher net revenue potential. Another advantage is the facility of traveling — except now — to a range of popular destinations nearby, in order to keep up with continuous developments. That offers opportunities to bond with hoteliers and local service providers, acquire greater insight and enjoy amazing places, benefiting everyone.”
The lower costs of doing business and living generally add value to clients’ experiences, and also translate into higher net revenue potential. Another advantage is the facility of traveling — except now — to a range of popular destinations nearby, in order to keep up with continuous developments.
Even with challenges related to the pandemic, Gritzewsky says he is glad he made the choice to stay in Mexico.
“Over the past few months and years, my overall experience has been totally positive,” he said. “Personally, just being in Mexico is a huge bonus. There is no place I would prefer to be, quarantined or not. Professionally, it has been a boost to my business and expertise. Of course, it would not be possible without today’s technologies or the invaluable support of Frosch and Signature Travel Network. It has been infinitely rewarding and I am profoundly grateful to the universe.”
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Cohen concurs about the experience of working from a Mexico base.
“Sometimes the greatest adventures in life are the ones we do not plan,” she said. “I'm grateful. It's been an absolutely incredible journey on both a professional and personal level. I've made incredible friendships and business relationships here. I know many are struggling right now. The time living abroad has not been without its challenges, but for me overall it has been a dream and a time in my life which I will never forget.”