Photography by Paul Morse.
With clients and partners all over the world and in multiple time zones, Amina Dearmon, founder and owner of the travel company Perspectives Travel, knows how to optimize her work hours. This skill is particularly useful at the moment, since as many destinations reopen and people increasingly feel comfortable indulging their wanderlust, Dearmon, who specializes in creating one-of-a-kind, custom excursions that immerse travelers in the local culture, is fielding frequent calls from clients ready to plan their next dream vacation. Recently, we followed along with the New Orleans, Louisiana-based travel expert for 24 busy hours as she conducts client consultations, catches up on local happenings, and does research for her cocktail-focused IGTV travel series.
7:30 a.m.: I’ve started using the bedtime feature on my iPhone, so even though I would much rather stay up until 2 a.m. and sleep until 11 a.m., I have supplier partners all over the world and I have a better chance of communicating with them the same day if I get up early.
8:00 a.m.: If my 7:30 a.m. alarm doesn’t wake me up enough then I have a backup at 8 a.m. By then, my two short leg Jack Russells, Archie and Josie, have usually been fed by my husband, Matt, and put in the bed for my real wake up call. This consists of them either walking over me like I’m just a bump on a log or running around the bed chasing each other, which always motivates me to get up.
8:15 a.m.: I sit in bed and try not to grab my phone right away. I like to start my day with stretching, talking to Matt about what he has on his calendar or a crazy dream that I had, and giving both pups plenty of belly rubs.
8:30 a.m.: I do a quick scroll through my email to see if I need to respond to any partners in different time zones and if traveling clients have contacted me about anything. I don’t do a deep dive into my emails, and instead use this time before my day gets too crazy to post to my Instagram, respond to any comments, and catch up on a few of my favorite accounts.
9:00 a.m.: I throw on workout clothes as a reminder that I need to do at least 20 minutes on my Peloton before the day is over and I take the pups out before the heat and humidity get too bad. During the stroll I call my mom for our morning chat to hear what she’s been reading about on Nola.com. My mom knows more about what’s happening in New Orleans than I do, and she always gives me the rundown on the weather and new restaurant openings. I live in the French Quarter, so I typically walk over to Louis Armstrong Park or down to the Mississippi River. If Matt’s able to walk with me we’ll go get coffee and tea at Backatown Coffee on the way back to our place.
9:30 a.m.: I’ve been working from home since I started my business in 2019, so my commute is non-existent. I have two email accounts that I manage, plus a customer relationship management system, so I start the morning by going through my emails, looking at revenue producing tasks and tackling them first. Since so many destinations have reopened and everyone is anxious to travel, this morning is all about answering questions from potential clients who I’ve had a consultation call with and who are deciding what level of my services they’d like to engage. The majority of people I speak with haven’t worked with a travel advisor before, so I also use the call as an opportunity to explain the value of using my services. I am always contacted by the person who is the planner, so my goal is to help them understand that my job is to handle the logistics, the challenges, and the itinerary so that they can simply show up and enjoy.
11:30 a.m.: I log on to my Peloton and pick a 20-minute class. I just added the floor classes to my workout routine and 20 minutes is all I can survive. I try to work out 5 days a week and take the weekends off, but if I get bored and need to change things up, I head to Romney Studios for a Bounce trampoline class.
12:00 p.m.: I get dressed and make a fruit and yogurt smoothie. I don’t like to eat when I first wake up, so I usually eat breakfast when most people are eating lunch! My husband has been working from home since last March and is usually on calls all day with a break for lunch, so we use this time to check in and see how our days are going.
1:00 p.m.: I leave time on my calendar three days a week for client consultations. The purpose of these calls is to chat with clients about what their travel needs, goals, and priorities are and explain to them the collaborative process that I use to plan travel experiences. Today I spoke with one client who wants to celebrate her 42nd birthday on a TBD Caribbean island, one who wants to celebrate an anniversary in Napa Valley, and a couple who want to spend three weeks exploring Italy on their honeymoon. I’m a preferred partner for hotels in all of these destinations, so I’m able to immediately mention that I can offer additional amenities like daily breakfast, hotel credits, and priority room upgrades at no additional cost, which is perfect for celebratory trips!
2:30 p.m.: At the end of my calls, I send each client a recap of the call and explain that I offer four levels of service so that I can help with everything from a simple hotel booking to a multi-country, multi-week trip. The client recap also forces me to enter every person that I speak to into my customer relationship management system, which is how I keep track of who is traveling, the dates they are traveling, where they’re going, and what stage in the planning process we’re in at the moment.
3:00 p.m.: I either eat lunch at my desk or standing up at the kitchen island to stretch my legs. Living in New Orleans, we have access to such great seafood, and I try to support local restaurants as much as possible, so I opt for a shrimp po boy from Killer PoBoys. It’s around the corner from my building so I call it in for pickup and I end up eating at my desk because I have three proposals due by the end of the week and I still have a lot of work to get done.
3:30 p.m.: My assistant is helping me launch my Pinterest account next week, so we are putting the finishing touches on the boards. Pinterest is a platform that I love for my personal use and they’ve recently upped their business features, so I’m excited to get it up and running.
4:00 p.m.: Since I’m not a morning person, I’m much more productive in the afternoon and use the last two hours of my workday to work on client itineraries. For the Napa trip that I’m working on I have a partner who is based on the ground in Napa Valley who helps me plan trips with a local’s point of view. It’s so much easier to offer clients the authentic, immersive trips that I aim to create when I’m working with someone who lives and breathes a destination. I also work with quite a few clients who have no idea where they want to go, and that’s fun, too! I love the challenge of matching a client to the perfect destination, and then explaining to a client why the destination is a good fit for them. For my Caribbean birthday client, they’ve been to a lot of the Caribbean already, so I’m focused on some overlooked destinations like Curacao and Antigua. I’m spending most of the summer island-hopping in the Caribbean, so I’m hoping to come back with some first-hand experiences, lots of notes on hotels that I visit, and a few new tropical cocktail recipes!
6:00 p.m.: The pups require two walks a day, and the evening one we take as a family so that we can share the highlights of our day. We’ll stop at one of our neighborhood bars like Betty’s Bar, The Upper Quarter, or Effervescence and get a to-go drink while we walk back home. Today it was the frosé from Betty’s Bar, which has become my favorite summertime cocktail.
7:00 p.m.: I don’t cook, but I do make great cocktails! So, while Matt is prepping dinner, I’ll test out one of the cocktails that I’m considering for my IGTV series, “Destination Cocktails.” I started this series early on in the pandemic, and it has proved to be both fun to make and a great way to research destinations. Food and spirits play such an important role in so many destinations, and doing the series gives me the opportunity to showcase the national cocktail or favorite spirit of a place, and talk a bit about the hotels and activities that I or my clients have loved.
8:00 p.m.: Because so much of the economy in New Orleans is based on hospitality, the businesses that supply our amazing restaurants had to get creative during the pandemic. JV Foods, one of the suppliers to some of the best restaurants in town, started selling direct to consumer last year, and I order from them weekly to get the freshest Louisiana crab meat, tuna, grouper, and shrimp. They also provide some of the seafood for GW Fins, one of my favorite restaurants in the city, so tonight for dinner we’re having BBQ Shrimp with GW Fins yummy BBQ Shrimp Butter.
9:30 p.m.: I like to spend the last hour before my phone reminds me that it’s time to start winding down catching up on any texts or emails from family and friends and watching television. We just finished Mare of Easttown and now we’re watching The Mosquito Coast, but I try to limit us to one episode a night, otherwise we’ll be up all night!
10:15 p.m.: The last thing I do before I put my phone down for the evening is check to see what’s been posted on the SmartFlyer Facebook Group. Even though I’m a small business owner, I am fortunate to be affiliated with SmartFlyer, one of the premier luxury travel agencies in the world. As a “Smartie,” I am able to tap into SmartFlyer’s 30 years of relationships, buying power, and 200 other Smarties who all help each other craft one-of-a-kind experiences for clients all over the globe. I’ll respond to any posts that I’m tagged in and will often ask questions if I’m stumped about an aspect of a trip.
10:30 p.m.: I love to read or take a Peloton meditation class before bed. Right now, I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and I have Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pam Am by Julia Cooke on my nightstand to read next.
11:00 p.m.: I usually wake up with the book open, my glasses still on, and realize that I’ll have to reread the last chapter of the book! I tell everyone good night, turn on my white noise app, and am asleep in a matter of minutes.