The foundation of KaliKosmos Travel was laid long before its establishment in 2008.
“Julie and I were childhood friends,” Katie explains. “Neither of us really remember it, but, back in the early 1980s, we attended church together in Oklahoma City, Okla. at the Quail Springs church of Christ. We even went to each other’s birthday parties.”
During these years both Katie and Julie’s families introduced travel in the lives of the young girls.
“My parents and grandparents took my sister and me on several trips when we were growing up,” said Julie. “Some of my best memories are of spending time at Disney World and traveling to Kauai.”
“In 1990, the summer after the Berlin Wall fell, my family went to Germany,” remembers Katie. “We went into the former Eastern block the day the stores had food back in stock. It was historic.”
In the fall of 1990 Katie’s family moved to Tulsa, Okla. and Julie and Katie lost touch.
At the end of high school, both girls decided to attend Oklahoma Christian University. They were reunited at an orientation weekend and decided to be roommates.
‘It really was pretty much like going potluck,” said Katie. “We hardly knew each other.”
“But,” added Julie, “it worked out great. We had a blast together that year.”
The next year Katie transferred to a different university to take part in an Italian study abroad program while Julie stayed at Oklahoma Christian.
“I pretty much should have been given an award at graduation for the person who graduated in four years having spent the least amount of time on campus,” Katie stated proudly.
“I transferred to any school that would let me on their study abroad program and left the country as often as I could.”
After their time in college, Julie and Katie both married and moved in their own directions.
“I was fresh out of college and married to my best friend.”, said Julie. “With his job as a youth minister we had the freedom to serve on many mission trips, but I wasn’t sure where my communications degree would take me.”
Julie and Chris lived in Florida and Oklahoma where Julie bounced around to jobs in the school system, fitness facilities, and even the local coffee shop.
“Eventually Chris’s future in education led us to Missouri and we were expecting our first child,” Julie said. “I was looking for a job where I could contribute to our family but still be home and raise my daughter. I was prayerful that God would put me where He wanted me.”
“Luke and I married straight out of college,” Katie explained. “We lived in the freshman boys’ dorm our first year of marriage while Luke worked as a hall director and I worked in PR on campus for Oklahoma Christian. It was an interesting way to start a marriage,” Katie added with a laugh.
After the year in the dorms, Luke and Katie moved to Memphis, Tenn. for Luke to work on his Master’s of Divinity.
“I had expected to move there and get a job in PR,” Katie remembered, “but a big firm had just closed down and there wasn’t a public relations job to be found anywhere.”
Eventually, Katie found a job working the early morning shift at the front desk of a hotel.
“It wasn’t the greatest job, but hardly anyone came to the front desk during the early morning hours and they had a free newspaper to read,” Katie added with a smile.
While reading the paper early one morning, Katie came across a want ad hiring travel agents- no previous experience needed.
“It was like a light went off in my head! On my study abroad trips, I had helped everyone plan their free travel, but I never knew that could actually be a job,” said Katie.
Katie applied and was hired by Carlson Wagonlit Travel/Leone Travel Corp, which later became Travel Leaders/Leone Travel Corp.
“I loved working in the office,” said Katie. “There was a definite learning curve to the programs and systems, but it was pure energy to plan travel for other people.”
Not long after starting her career, Katie and Luke found out they would be expecting their first child.
“Luke and I had agreed from the beginning that I would stay home when it came time to have kids. While this was earlier than expected, I assumed this would be the end of my time as a travel agent.”
But that was not to be.
Before it was time for Katie’s exit from the agency, the owner offered Katie the opportunity to work from home.
Katie worked from her home in Memphis for a year before Luke accepted a job back in Oklahoma.
“This time I knew it was the end of my career. Remote agents weren’t really a thing in 2004 so I never expected the owner to offer me to take my work back to Oklahoma with me.” said Katie.
But the owner did. And Katie worked remotely from Oklahoma for four years.
In 2008 the Memphis owner came to Katie and offered to set up a storefront for her in Edmond, Okla., where Katie was living.
“The offer was an amazing gift,” said Katie, “but I didn’t want a storefront. I loved that my home-based business gave me the flexibility to work for people from anywhere in the world, while still being able to be home for my sons.”
Katie came back with a counter offer: what if she could train people to do what she does, to be agents from home.
“The whole ‘home-based/independent contractor’ model of operations that is around today wasn’t an option at the time,” Katie explain. “It was pretty much uncharted territory. But I sucked up my nerves, started my company, and jumped in. I used the skills I learned from my time at Oklahoma Christian and designed an online, interactive, training portal.”
“I can teach anyone how to be an agent,” added Katie, “but once the portal was done, it was time to find the right person who understood not just how to sell travel but who also knew what it would take to be an exceptional travel advisor.”
As KaliKosmos Travel was developing, Julie was in Missouri, waiting for a career that would satisfy her desire to work with and help others and still allow her to stay at home with her daughters.
“That’s when I reconnected (again) with Katie. She has a way of bringing out all the fun things in life,” Julie said. “She told me about her career as an agent, how rewarding it is to send clients on adventures and share in that with them.”
In 2008, Julie joined KaliKosmos Travel, went through Katie’s training program, and has been working with clients ever since.
In 2019 Julie transitioned from corporate and leisure to leisure only.
“Working with families, honeymooners, and couples brings me such joy,” said Julie. “It’s all about helping people get away, reconnect, and make memories together that will last the rest of their lives.”
In 2019 Julie also added the specialization of special needs travel to her training.
“My mom has mobility issues. It’s very personal for me to be able to help all people, no matter their special needs, to be able to see the beauty of this world,” Julie added.
“When I stop and think about it,” Katie said, “it’s really amazing how this all came together. It’s an absolute blessing to have a career I love, working with people and helping them explore the world, and to have been able to pass my industry knowledge on to someone else who cares as much about customer service as I do.”
“Every day,” Katie added, “every day I feel blessed and excited to plan new adventures.”
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