When possible, find an employer that believes in the same causes that you do. Travel Edge is very invested in giving back to the world. It is an interest we both share. From building schools for girls in Africa to funding ocean exploration, giving back is an important part of everything we do.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nadiya Makarenko, senior vice president of Travel Edge Network.

As the leader for Travel Edge Network, a luxury host travel agency to hundreds of top luxury travel advisors, Senior Vice President Nadiya Makarenko understands that comprehensive modern training, trusted preferred travel partners, best in class support and a passionate community can equal great success for all. Within her role, Makarenko drives new business and product development, builds global partnerships and analyzes sales data and trend experiences, oversees customer service as well as operations management, performance measurement and overall training and development. With 20 years of experience in the travel industry, Makarenko champions the true craft of the Travel Advisor with the mission of ensuring each traveler “Be Well Traveled.”

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always dreamt about travel. This passion for the world inspired me to explore the possibilities of working in travel. I started my career 20 years ago as a Travel Advisor — I loved helping people connect to their travel dreams, which I still feel passionate about today. Over the last 10 years, I have worn many different leadership hats in the tourism industry, from luxury tour operator to corporate business and wholesaler. Today I am privileged to work for Travel Edge Network, a luxury host travel agency to hundreds of top luxury travel advisors and affiliates. Travel Edge Network combines the many reasons I love travel as we celebrate the craft of the Travel Advisor and enable our clients to be well traveled.

In my two decades in this business, so many things have changed — destinations, partners, properties and more. One of the biggest changes has been our clients’ expectations and aspirations. Through travel, we can make dreams come true — the sky is the limit.

The one thing that has not changed is the importance of the Travel Advisor. I understand how much-trusted partners, reliable support and a caring community can make a difference to our advisors’ business. And today, that’s my passion — helping each member of our luxury travel advisor network succeed.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I have been lucky to explore much of my travel bucket list, but I must talk about my recent experience to Rwanda. I had always dreamed of visiting Rwanda for its natural beauty, including its volcanoes and montane rainforest.

While in Rwanda, a truly incredible moment happened during ethical gorilla trekking. Hiking through woods and watching these magnificent gorillas go about their daily lives in the bamboo-covered slopes. To look into the eyes of a gorilla, and for a gorilla to look into yours was a transformative experience.

That moment took mindfulness to the next level for me. It was a reminder of me and my place in this incredible world. It’s proof that travel changes you.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started my career in sales as a Travel Advisor. I was young, enthusiastic, and excited to be selling travel.

The company I worked for was a generalist where advisors sold all products without specializing in any destination. I was lucky to close my first sale within 10 days of joining the company — the booking was for a group of 10 people going on a cruise to Greece. I thought this was easy.

Excited about the big reservation, I collected the deposit and called the cruise company to confirm cabins. To my surprise and horror, I learned that the sailing route I had sold had been cancelled a year ago, and my company should not have this product in our system.

The moral of the story is to know your product and be diligent in checking all details before collecting a deposit. Learning to cross each “t” and dot each “i” has provided me with confidence in decision making.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

There are three pieces of advice I’ve learned over the years that have helped prevent me from burnout.

Take Regular Breaks

Great achievements require breaks. Breaks are essential to avoid burn out — and can help greatly in refocus.

Organize Your Time, Prioritize Tasks

No matter where technology takes us, there is nothing more effective than a list. Lists are a great way to visualize the tasks and projects at hand.

Remember — We Work In A Fun Industry

The last two years have been hard for the people and industry of travel. It is important to remember why we joined the travel industry, and remind ourselves that one of our main goals is to help make people’s travel dreams a reality.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have been lucky to work with many great leaders that helped my career development. I am grateful to a leader in travel who gave me the push I needed to find my place in the industry and within the company. It was this push and show of confidence from a leader that provided me the confidence to pursue my own successes — and to see the confidence others had in me.

From this leader, I learned how to look at things from a different perspective. I learned not only how to sharpen my problem-solving skills, but also visionary strategic thinking that has allowed me to lead with new focus on resourceful, compassion, and collaboration.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

There has never been more choice when it comes to travel. There are more travel destinations. There are more sellers. There are more voices in the business of selling travel. Travel Edge Network is committed to the promise and desire for each of our travelers to be well traveled — in whatever way that they personally define what “Be Well Traveled” means to them. Because it’s the personal touches that only a travel expert can access and provide that make travel more special.

The Travel Advisor has always been the traveler’s best advocate when something goes wrong on a trip. In the last two years alone, a lot of things could go wrong for travelers. These realities have showcased the true importance of having a professional travel expert on your side — and for every step of your trip.

The Travel Advisor was once the best kept secret for flexible cancelations policies, complementary upgrades, special experiences, and insider knowledge. Today’s travel landscape really requires a Travel Expert to have your back as you return to travel. The human connection between a Travel Advisor and a partner can greatly elevate the client experience from great to amazing.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

When people typically book travel online, the experience is just a transaction. You now have a confirmation code to access your reservation or ticket. The rest is up to you. In this ever-evolving landscape, change seems to be a current constant.

The craft of a Travel Advisor lets travelers go way deeper than that simple transaction. They know things online booking sites don’t know and don’t disclose. Is the hotel under heavy renovations? A Travel Advisor knows. Have there been changes to a destination’s entry regulations? A Travel Advisor Knows. Your flight has been cancelled — how do you get on the next possible flight with ease? A Travel Advisor is the answer to being well traveled.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Personalized expertise and customer care will always be superior to a transactional online website. People make travel better. Travel Advisors make travel better. Travel Advisors allow for clients to have a truly personalized experience that an algorithm simply can’t match.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

Flexibility — There will be more flexibility than ever before.

Travel Insurance — Once a nice to have, this has become a key way to protect both your money and your trip.

Duration — People are staying longer at their destinations to both work and play now that many offices allow work from anywhere.

Space — We are continuing to see a focus on wellness and sustainable travel in destinations that can deliver wide open spaces.

Travel Advisor — Travel Advisors have become an essential way for travelers to be well traveled and to help navigate the world of travel.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

The perfect vacation experience is always personal. For me, having a trip tailored to the needs of myself and my family always makes for a perfect experience. Through conversation and discussion, a Travel Advisor can learn about my travel style and tailor a trip to my specific needs and desires. To me, a perfect vacation experience is one created by a Travel Advisor.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

Both nature and wellness have always been an important part in my travel decision making. One of my favorite things to do when visiting a destination is to explore the local nature hikes and walks. To see the local wildlife where possible. Connecting with nature is wellness at its best.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When possible, find an employer that believes in the same causes that you do. Travel Edge is very invested in giving back to the world. It is an interest we both share. From building schools for girls in Africa to funding ocean exploration, giving back is an important part of everything we do.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe kindness is key. Kindness would be the movement.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can find inspiration and learn about the world’s best travel experiences curated by our expert travel advisors on social media on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, or on our website at www.traveledge.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.