In June, the WBENC network will come together in Baltimore, Maryland for three days of rich programming, networking, and celebration at the 2019 National Conference & Business Fair. We are thrilled to have an amazing group of co-chairs who have collectively made this event a reality, including Capital One, EY, Pfizer Inc, Ampcus, APCO Worldwide, and Omega World Travel, Inc.
We invite you to learn more about each of co-chairs and their dedication to supporting women-owned businesses. Today, we’re proud to introduce Gloria Bohan, CEO and President of Omega World Travel, Inc., one of the largest travel management companies in the U.S.
CEO and President of Omega World Travel, Inc.
What inspired you to start your business?
I fell in love with the travel industry after my honeymoon cruise on the QE2 in 1972. My husband and I were upgraded to a suite as it was our honeymoon. We went back the following year and did not get the upgrade we wanted. As it turns out, we were surrounded by travel agents, and he said, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” They also looked like they were having fun and I wanted to get into the action. These agents really inspired me to start my business. I opened Omega as a small storefront in Fredericksburg, Virginia with just one employee. As the travel industry became deregulated in the late 70s and we automated, many opportunities opened up, and I was able to open offices wherever clients needed which helped expand the business. Today, Omega is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Over the years I’ve learned that you should always treat everyone with respect, always embrace quality, and know that your success starts with how you treat your employees and clients. My main lessons would be to always reach out to people and we are a family at Omega World Travel. Make sure you are honest with people and always have a backup plan. Perhaps the most important advice I would give would be to tap into people’s creativity and encourage their entrepreneurial spirit.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
We were an early WBENC-Certified company in the beginning of WBENC in 1997. As a woman-owned business, it is critical that we maintain this certification as many of our federal and corporate clients ask for it. At Omega, we pride ourselves on our diverse workforce, and we boast our own internal and external supplier diversity portal and process. Some of our major clients are also a part of the WBENC network, and we met them at prior tradeshows. This is an invaluable network of amazing business leaders. We are proud to be sponsors this year!
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
The travel industry is vast and there are many trends that are becoming more popular in 2019, including sustainable travel, foodie trips, wellness travel, and solo travel. These days, women travelers are traveling solo now more than ever either on business or personal trips. There are a large number of women who do not feel comfortable or safe traveling by themselves, they would prefer to join a group of people with similar interests. Safety is also a concern; groups offer an extra level of safety. Travelers these days, especially the millennial traveler, are starting to combine business trips with leisure vacations – ‘Bleisure’.
What do you love about being a business owner?
When you get involved with something, and when you keep working at it you keep looking for opportunities. That is my business mantra and it has not changed over the years. I keep looking for those opportunities and ways to be innovative today. My love of travel fueled my desire to start a business, but it’s really the people I work with and helping our clients. That is what I love most about being a business owner.
What’s your favorite career moment?
Over the years, there have been so many great moments. It is hard to choose just one. Recently, I have been honored at The American Society for Travel Advisors (ASTA), and won the Lifetime Achievement Award. My entire staff came to help me accept the award in Washington, DC last year and it was such a momentous, exciting occasion. I also was accepted into the Business Travel News’ (BTN) Hall of Fame last year. The ceremony was held at the prestigious St. Regis Hotel in New York and many of my staff were there as well. I am so lucky to be a part of this industry. My other favorite moment was being named a Godmother. I am the Godmother of two cruise ships! It is such an honor as I love cruising and supporting these companies. I am the Godmother of Windstar Cruises Star Legend, and Riviera River Cruise Line’s MS Robert Burns.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Sleep seems to renew my imagination. If I didn't have to sleep, I would probably be drawing or playing golf.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child I was inspired by the New York image of being a career woman. I loved the look of a gray suit and hat, walking down the avenue, and going to an exciting job. I liked the independence that it evoked; and, the idea of being creative. I believe in starting the day with a good night's sleep; getting up early enough to have an hour to myself for review of emails; news, a little exercise and light breakfast. I often play energizing music, songs that make me feel young and that remind me of my husband; happy moments!
How do you unwind after a long workday?
I just like to leave the office only when I have done a sufficient job of solving problems and knowing what needs to get done the following day. I sleep better when I have done my best. 7 pm is usually my limit. In bed no later than 10 pm and sometimes with an old movie that puts me fast to sleep. TMC has gotten me through some worrisome times.
Fill in the Blank
When I face a challenge, I… usually look at the pros and cons; establish an 'attack plan'; discuss with a small team or adviser and move quickly.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… to spend more leisure time with my husband; plan on a family.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is… being around people; although I really appreciate my quiet time.
To get my creative juices flowing, I… tap into my own creativity. It has also been a great satisfaction to see others blossom by fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in others as they realize their potential. It brings about a lot of teamwork, group support; loyalty and caring for each other.
About the Company:
Omega World Travel, Inc.
Omega World Travel is a woman-owned, diversity supplier, and one of the largest travel management companies (TMCs) in the US. With worldwide headquarters in Fairfax, VA, Omega serves corporate, government, meeting, and leisure clients throughout the US. Since 1972, we have been providing travel services to businesses and consumers around the world. With the power of our brands, such as Cruise.com, and our industry-leading software, we help our clients safely navigate the globe, provide them with the latest in travel technology, and ensure they take advantage of every cost-savings opportunity. On average, around 70% of our volume is in business travel, and 40% of our total volume is international in scope. Omega World Travel also owns Cruise.com, one of the largest sellers of cruises on the Internet, and TravTech, a software development company and Omega Meetings and Conference services.
Learn more at omegatravel.com