Problem Solver. This innate quality is arguably what led Terri Rickard to start her company, Southwestern Travel Group, founded in 2016.
However, the seeds of Southwestern Travel Group were initially planted back in 2012, when Terri was working as Henry Bedford’s Executive Assistant. She took on a major project to create an internally-managed travel program for the (then) 16 operating divisions of Southwestern Family of Companies, managing over $5 million in annual travel spend. In just a few years of collecting travel data, conducting industry research, and perfecting the vendor contract negotiation process, Terri was able to achieve a savings of over $500,000.
Terri accredits much of her success to her beloved mentor, Henry Bedford, who encouraged her to get involved in solving problems and jump on any situation where a positive impact could be made.
This is exactly what Terri did with the internal travel program, which was turned into a public service with the launching of Southwestern Travel Group. The company has evolved over the years; starting with the focus of meetings and incentives – consulting with external companies to help them save money on group travel. However, the focus quickly changed when an opportunity arose to build unique travel experiences for school groups, by partnering with Southwestern Fundraising. Today, student group travel has become the fastest growing division of the company.
“When school groups travel with us, we make it a top priority for them to know that we only do one type of trip: an amazing one! We show them an amazing travel experience through our elevated level of customer service, the quality of our vendors, and by integrating one-of-a-kind character-building activities into every trip.”
An entrepreneurial spirit comes natural for Terri Rickard. It was engrained at an early age as she grew up with an entrepreneurial family. Owning their own small businesses, her dad and uncle helped set the tone and example of what it meant to be an entrepreneur.
“I’ve always enjoyed solving problems and creating efficient processes, which are two very important roles of an entrepreneur… It is important to have a vision and be into the details on the ground level of your business.”
Terri says the most rewarding and challenging part of building a business is the people. She believes in recruiting A+ people because when you have a team that is passionate, loyal, curious, and always strives to bring their best, it creates a fun and positive work environment.
Whether she’s busy running a growing business or raising a beautiful family – Terri excels in maintaining a work life balance. Over the years she has learned the importance of forming good habits and understanding that what you do today matters for your future. She realizes that today, we are all becoming the person we will someday be. Also, that your schedule is your lifeline!
She considers herself lucky to love what she does every day.
“When you love what you do it all balances out. I tell everyone that I don’t hate Mondays and I don’t wait for Fridays. I love the work I do, the people I work with and the clients I serve.”
‘I do what I say I’m going to do’ – this is one of many principles that has proven to be very important in Terri’s career. Terri is inspired to continue building a principle-guided business with purpose driven people. She encourages her team with the following best practices:
- Never walk past a problem. Get in the habit of taking action immediately.
- Be for what is right, not who is right.
- There is power in serving others; servant leadership is key.
- See people not for who they are but for who they can become.
- Use positive self-talk and never give up on your dreams.
- Be honest, be coachable, communicate clearly, listen and take lots of notes, be the quietest person in the room, and have fun. ALWAYS have fun.
Terri’s passion for travel began when she studied history in college. She believes the impact of travel is powerful enough to change the world. Next on her destination list is… Spain!
“Travel opens our mind and emotions. If we allow it, travel will take us outside of our comfort zone so we can see and experience new things… Travel frees us to dream, relaxes the soul, and transforms and enriches our lives – so that we can do things that will change the world for the better.”
Our team of travel experts would love to help you plan your next adventure. At Southwestern Travel Group, our depth of expertise, knowledge of destinations, and attention to detail saves you time, money, and headaches. As travel experts, we can handle any emergency that may arise when you’re on the road — everything from a missed flight connection to a hotel that closes unexpectedly—and we will go the extra mile. To book your next trip, contact us today at 800.222.4441 or [email protected].