Listening — taking the time to listen to my clients, listening to the details and asking lots of questions to dig deeper into what they are wanting. Many times, clients do not even know what they are looking for. Asking the questions and reading between the lines to understand what they are expressing is important for their vacation experience.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Niki Rakowitz

Niki Rakowitz, owner of CARE Travel, brings over 20 years of expertise to create transformative travel experiences. As a certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) and Travel Counselor (CTC), Niki goes beyond pampering, focusing on crafting unforgettable moments. Her excellence is recognized with awards like Caribbean Wedding Industry Awards Travel Agent of the Year. Niki extends her impact by empowering women in business, sharing her entrepreneurial journey and guiding mentees to surpass their dreams. Through CARE Travel, she redefines luxury as an experience that changes lives.

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

I was raised by my grandparents, and we traveled (by car, and RV) a lot over the course of my childhood. When I lost my grandparents, those experiences and memories were all I had left. I have always cherished the memories that I have from my childhood vacations with them. I believe that these vacations created a “travel bug” in me from a very young age…this travel bug along with my passion of helping others has been my vision since I was about 12 years old!

At about age 17, I was diagnosed with a very rare bone disorder called Camurati Engelmann’s Disease (CED for short). Lucky me, there are only about 300 cases in the WORLD, it is that rare! Learning to navigate my life with medical challenges, and not being the most responsible person to show up to many of my standard full time jobs, I began looking for work that I could do with more flexibility.

I found an education program for travel agents that touted setting your own schedule. I dove in head 1st, no education, no experience and spent many years educating and learning. Then one day in 2002, I took the leap of faith and created my own business doing something I loved, helping others create valuable travel memories!

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

I am not sure I have a most interesting story, as every day I am faced with a unique challenge that keeps me on my toes. I think some of my most interesting stories come from travel industry events, and the behavior of others who call themselves professionals. Eek! Check your travel advisors’ credentials and certifications, this industry has lots of what I call imposters (MLM agents, multi-level marketing agents) who are simply looking for personal discounts vs actually putting their clients’ needs priority.

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?

It was not funny at the time, however every time I think about it, I giggle. Early in my travel booking career, a client reached out asking for flights and hotels in Rome. I created a simple flight with 4-star hotel itinerary, sent for them to review and apply deposit. Clients deposited, I confirmed all flights, and reached out to supplier for hotel confirmation, all looked good. 3 days, let me repeat 3 days before they were to travel, I get a phone call getting yelled at about what the bleep bleep have I done…confused I asked her to slow down, and talk to me instead of yelling, come to find out the clients wanted to go to Rome, GEORGIA, not Rome ITALY!!!!

What did I learn from this? I learned that clients do not read anything you send them, they assume you can read their mind and know what they want, lol. Now I have processes in place to avoid costly mistakes like this in the future.

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?

This one is difficult for me, as I feel all my drive and motivation has come from my own personal strength and mentality. While yes, my friends offered the most support, always encouraging me to do what made me happy. No one, from family to friends thought I could make it in travel, while they supported me, it would not have called it encouragement. It did not come until the past few years, when I found that encouragement I longed for when I was starting out. I meet at a industry event, several people who have become my support and encouragement, Shout out to Sandy Anderson and Brenda O’Neal, for your huge hearts! Now I feel like I have some of the most amazing supporters and cheerleaders on my team. Maybe this is why my heart’s passion is so strong to be there to cheer on others in their dreams.

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?

I feel that we are unique in taking the time to LISTEN to clients and that I have created a team of travel designers that truly “care” about the experience and investments they entrust in us. Making a vacation experience more than a point and click booking site.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Our clients pain points vary, but one of the common ones inexperienced travelers face, is “I have arrived and it looks nothing like the pictures on their website”. While no one can verify all resorts and quality, as a professional travel designer this is the exact reason I personally travel as often as I can to our high selling destinations, to be able to offer a real life experience for a clients expectations.

The internet world had made this a huge challenge to educate on internet information vs actual information.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few 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?

While COVID19 has changed the world as we know it, the travel and hospitality industry took a huge hit. While not all these processes that were put into place were convenient for us, they have influenced how travel looks moving forward. At CARE Travel, my travel agency, we are seeing some fun a positive trend that came from what we call “COVID Revenge Travel” surge. We are seeing more immersive vacation experiences, clients are wanting more culture and hands on experiences, think cooking classes in Italy. As well as we are seeing that families are taking longer vacations to more exotic, bucket list destinations. Spending an average of 10–12 days on vacation vs the past 5–7 days.

People are looking for experiences over the typical getaway trip.

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

As much as I would love to have a definition of a “perfect vacation experience”, this is simply not possible to define. What perfect vacation for me looks like is luxury 5-star resort, white sand beach with tropical teal blue waters, fresh cocktail in hand (refreshed by a butler), no phones, no technology only a good book and the sounds of the ocean, equals a perfect vacation for me. However, this is far from a perfect vacation for most people. This is something that I love about what I do in creating vacation experiences for our clients. I enjoy learning about my clients’ ideas of “perfect”, their personality, their expectations and wishes from the trip they are taking, and designing what a perfect experience would be like, uniquely for them.

I don’t know about you, but most of us have different trip expectations for different trips. I don’t always want a beach destination; I also love to explore new cultures and foods. Every vacation experience comes with various expectations and needs for that specific experience.

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.

This is an exciting question to me, as my personal goal for my clients’ travels is about connection with the destination they are traveling to. We strive to include more hands on and wellness experiences in all of our travel experiences. Wanting our clients to return from a vacation feeling rejuvenated and connected with themselves and the destination they experienced is something we strive for with every client’s travels.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more?

As a travel advisor: 5 things you should know about creating vacation experiences that keeps people wanting more:

  1. Listening — taking the time to listen to my clients, listening to the details and asking lots of questions to dig deeper into what they are wanting. Many times, clients do not even know what they are looking for. Asking the questions and reading between the lines to understand what they are expressing is important for their vacation experience.
  2. Connection — When you make time for and actually listen to your clients you are unintentionally building connections with them. I strive to take this connection further and build my relationships with my suppliers, this connection leads to a better destination experience for our clients. I always want my clients to return from their travels with a personal connection to the destination they traveled.
  3. Inclusion — Everyone loves to feel included. We include our clients in all our decisions, so they are building a trip fit for them. Inclusion also means wrapping as much as possible into the final cost of the client’s travels, so they do not have to stress during travels to find ways to save money. We want to ensure they have a fully inclusive package.
  4. Support and Guidance — Being there for our clients before travel for all the questions and preparations to set expectations accordingly, as well as during travels is important for clients to feel connected to a reliable source of information when things happen. There is huge value in the connection with your clients when they know that you are there for them, for support and guidance during any situation.
  5. The details of the small things — This is my personal favorite. I love the details and finding the small things to surprise and delight our clients. The best way to offer these things circles back to listening to your clients’ stories.

I personally feel that when you as the travel professional wrap all these things together in your services to your clients, as well as incorporating these same tips into the client’s actual trip will not only keep them coming back to you for your knowledge, they will seek more from the destinations they travel to.

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

I believe that success means different things to different people, some see success as value in income, financially while others define it as freedom to have time. To me success is about a balance of freedom and financial stability, with this mentality I feel I can use my time and experiences to help others grow in their dreams. Helping others live a life they love, spreading more kindness and positivity in the world.

As a travel designer, I always bring a backpack filled with school supplies to donate to a child or school in the destinations I travel to. I know that I cannot change the world, but I can make a difference to one person at a time.

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. 🙂

Oh, this question about creating a movement is great, as I have personally been working on this thought for a while now and have recently actually started putting these thoughts to action! I personally feel that women face their own unique challenges in life (aka have babies), challenges in business (aka imposter syndrome) and the challenge of the work/life balance. And the movement I dream about is one where “we” as women, have a safe, judgement free, positive support, and group of similar women to connect and uplift each other. I have created my passion project, Elevate — Piloting your own Journey, this is a female business owners retreat where we come together to share our struggles, and provide comfort and connection for success to move forward in our Journey.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Social Media:

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.