My Story

I will never forget the times in my childhood when my mother would start planning the family vacations. I first paid attention to her doing this when I was four years old. I would be sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching Sesame Street and playing with my Fisher Price Little People boat, pretending that the little plastic people were me, my parents and my sisters, and that we were on our family vacation. I did this while my mother sat on the couch going through travel magazines and books trying to plan the perfect trip. After spending hours looking at different places, she finally settled on Disney World in Florida. We were living in New Jersey at the time, so in addition to planning where we would stay in Florida, she had to plan how to get us there. I admired her knowledge when I would hear her talking on the phone with the hotels and airlines, finding us the best flights and hotels for the trip.

That same scenario played out year after year as she would plan our family vacations. Once I was old enough to have a voice about the trips, I would sit with her and look through the magazines as well to help her find the perfect place for that year’s trip. Over time, my sisters graduated from high school and moved out and my father became busier and busier with work as he progressed up the ranks at his job in New York City, so the trips started getting shorter and less frequent. Eventually, when I was in 8th grade, my mother decided we were going to go on a week-long vacation with just the two of us. We chose to go to Disney, and she wanted me to plan out the entire thing. She would help me with everything, but she wanted to give me the chance to plan out an entire vacation. As it would turn out, there wasn’t really much planning to do because I found a trip in the local paper’s travel section going to Disney by motor coach. We just needed to call and reserve our spot.

When it came time for the trip, we boarded the bus and rode it to Florida. I made a new friend during the ride and we sat in the aisle playing with our toys the entire way. Each night we would stop at a different hotel, have dinner, and go swimming. We finally reached Disney after two days of traveling and I had the time of my life. It was the first vacation that I actually had a friend to enjoy it with instead of my older sisters (who were more interested in the “big kids” stuff than in what I wanted to do).

Back in 2000, my wife, Diane, and I got married. Having never planned a wedding before, there is so much to do that thinking about your honeymoon can become a whole other project in itself. We decided that we wanted to go to Italy. I hadn’t planned a vacation for a long time and had never done anything overseas, so we decided to seek out a professional agent to help us plan our honeymoon. Doing so was probably the easiest part of the whole wedding/honeymoon process. We told her where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do and she put the whole trip together for us: everything from booking the planes to hotel stays; she even arranged the transportation from Venice to Florence to Rome. I had always admired my mother for the amount of work she put into our trips, but when I used a travel agent for the first time, it really made me appreciate all that went into creating a custom trip for someone. It was at this point in my life that I decided that working in the l industry was something I really wanted to do.

Unfortunately, however, I had years of training in computers and programming that I wasn’t ready to just throw away. Because of this, I started looking for jobs that would give me exposure to both computers and travel.

One of the first jobs that did this for me was working for Westgate Resorts in their Internet Marketing Department. While there, I was able to work with Disney, Universal, some venues in Branson, Missouri, and other travel/vacation companies. Once I left Westgate, I found another position working in Internet Marketing developing lead generation forms for various companies, some of which focused exclusively on the travel industry. Working with these companies fueled my passion for travel even more.

In 2017, I started to get burn-out working in the computer field. It was becoming a chore to keep up with the ever-changing technology that was taking place. I thought it was a great time to finally break away from the computer industry and follow my passion in travel. I started doing my research, and in April 2018, I made the move. I joined a terrific host company (KHM Travel Group) who gave me my initial travel agent training and has always been there to answer questions and point me in the right direction.

I started going out to the cruise lines we worked with and took every training I could find with them. I eventually joined CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) in the fall of 2018, and ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) in the winter of 2018. Through CLIA, I have earned my certification as a Certified Cruise Counselor and am currently finishing up my Associate Cruise Counselor certification. In July of 2019, I also completed my CTA (Certified Travel Associate) certification which I had been working on with the Travel Institute since August 2018.

When I first started as an agent, I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on, so I was doing pretty much everything from short hotel stays to transatlantic ocean cruises. As time went on, I slowly started moving away from different types of travel. I finally settled on two specialty avenues: cruises (specifically river cruises), and selling just one resort company. After a few months of research on all of the all-inclusive resorts, I settled on Sandals. I found they had the best offerings for the clients that I was booking, and in June of 2019, I went to the annual Sandals workshop here in Orlando and completed my Certified Sandals Specialist training.

I love where my career has taken me and I’m passionate about helping my clients create amazing memories on the trips of their lives. If you’re ready to create your own lasting memories on your next dream vacation, let our office take the guesswork out of planning and make sure you get the most out of your experience! Contact our office today at 352-575-9364 to get started!

 

Tony DeNIcola
TDJ Travel

TOP LEVEL INDUSTRY CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Travel Associate
Certified Cruise Counselor Certification

SECONDARY TRAVEL SPECIFIC CERTIFICATIONS

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CRUISE LINE SPECIFIC CERTIFICATIONS

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