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Meet Sue Rudolph of Absolutely Amazing Travel in Huntington Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sue Rudolph.

Sue, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I lost my job as a software engineer in 1994 and a travel agent that I know asked me if I wanted to work as an outside sales agent selling travel so I decided to do it temporarily until I found an engineering job. After being in the corporate world I found I really liked working for myself. After a few months, I decided to open up my own agency. I was pretty naive at the time as I knew nothing about sales or marketing or how to run a business and hadn’t done a lot of travel. I enrolled in a bunch of classes and started networking with other travel agents. I kept hearing that in order to be successful in travel you need to find a niche to specialize in. I first I tried to be a cruise specialist but I did not like cruises very much. Then in 2001 the president of one of my running clubs suggested I put on a tour to the Florence Marathon. I did not know what to expect but soon had 40 people signed up. I have been a runner since 1978 and very active in the running community but it hadn’t occurred to me to running tours. I then started Amazing Running Tours, a subdivision of my company. I now sell marathon tours all over the country and have expanded to sell cycling and other Active Adventures as well.

I also have started putting on international marathons and launched the Kenya Wildlife Marathon last year where I donate some of the proceeds to the Kenya Wildlife Trust to help the Cheetahs. In 2018, I plan to launch the Borneo Wildlife Marathon to help the Orangutans. I am extremely passionate about wildlife and want to do what I can to help endangered species. Aside from running and cycling, I sell all types of travel. My specialties are Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and Africa. It was a rough road getting to where I am today and I made many mistakes along the way, but I love what I do and I am much happier than when I was working in corporate America.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No it has definitely not been a smooth road. I was a Math and Physics major in college and worked as an engineer. I knew nothing about running a business. The only travel that I had done was a trip to Spain when I was in college and a trip to Tahiti. I had always been an introvert and kept to myself. When I started, I knew I could not make a living with my circle of friends so I joined a number of organizations. It was very uncomfortable for me at first but I really opened up and met so many amazing people. I made a lot of mistakes and went through much of my savings. The internet had not come into play and so it was much harder to get information. I could not figure out what to specialize in so I was going in all directions. It was 2001 when I finally found my passion selling tours to marathons and also realized my love for Australia and the South Pacific and was on the path to success. At that time 9/11 happened and the travel industry died. I thought about going back into engineering but stuck it out and made it through. I have had a few setbacks but have continued to grow since then.

Please tell us about Absolutely Amazing Travel.
As the owner, I am involved in all aspects of running the company – marketing, website updates, handling the finances and administrative tasks as well as selling.

We sell mostly leisure travel for individuals as well as groups of all sizes. We are a small company and spend a lot time with each client getting to know them and making sure they get what they want and are there to assist them before, during and after their trip.

As an avid runner and cyclist, I specialize in selling running and cycling trips. I also fell in love with the South Pacific and travel to Australia and New Zealand every year. As an animal lover, my other love is Africa which I have been to many times.

Although I sell other destinations, those are my specialties. I have an agent from Italy that handles much of my European Business. I have a couple other agents as well helping me that specialize in different parts of the world. I love learning about other cultures. When I have a client going somewhere I haven’t been to, I take it upon myself to find out as much as I can about the destination and work with my suppliers that specialize in that area, I have no problem putting together an amazing itinerary to anywhere in the world.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would start by putting together a marketing plan and a budget and have a clear direction of how I was going. I did not have any plan when I started and spent a lot of money foolishly. I have learned from all my mistakes and have grown to be a better person.

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