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Best Host Travel Agency of 2021 | HAR's Luminary Awards!

Host Agency Reviews

January 2021

Mary Stein

In the good old days of 2019, before the term "social distance" was even a twinkle in our eye, the Host Agency Reviews crew got really existential during a team meeting one day and asked, "Who is the best Host Agency?" 

This is a question HAR set out to answer in 2019. Lo and behold, now HARs Luminary Awards, which recognize the best host agencies out there, have become a time-honored tradition that carries into 2021.

You may be thinking, "it's impossible to say who is the best host agency! There cannot be just one!" And you're right. It's impossible. There are different hosts for different folks. There's so many great hosts out there, that we can't choose just one.

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New Deal Europe Weekly Update on Tourism to the Balkan Region, Week 21

New Deal Europe

November 2020

News from the markets: United States

In the week when the momentous events in the USA were top of the news agenda, we cross the pond to get the perspective of Ashley Metesh-McCoy, owner and founder of Kinship Vacations, a California based travel agency.

She tells us about the challenges faced by travel agents in the USA this year, how she thinks things may change under the new administration, and the implications for sustainable tourism and travel to Europe.

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Travel Unites Us

March 2020

Richard D'Ambrosio

Ashley Metesh-McCoy of Kinship Vacations unites all of us, including the travel advisors you should get to know better.

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Jobs for Military Spouses Through the Travel Industry with Ashley Metesh-McCoy

Sheepdog Financial

December 2019

Episode Description

According to today’s guest, unemployment for military spouses is six to seven times higher than it is for the general population. This makes sense considering that military families move frequently. Starting over and finding a new job can be a challenge. Today’s guest experienced this herself. Ashley Metesh-McCoy was raised in the military and was used to the moves. She also served for about ten years. In this time, she met her husband, and now she is a military spouse and a veteran.

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ASTA Ashley Metesh-McCoy Entrepreneur Of The Year

Travel Advisor Magazine

November 2019

Martha Chapman

It’s no secret that our industry is full of visionaries. And a shining example of that is Ashley Metesh-McCoy of Kinship Travel in Carmel, California, winner of this year’s ASTA Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

What sets Metesh-McCoy apart is that she saw a very high rate of unemployment in a well-travelled and well-educated sector of the population: spouses and veterans.

“All that mobility is exactly part of the problem. It can be such a challenge to establish your own networks and community when every few years you have to move,” she explains. Herself an “army brat” and ex-military (she served in the National Guard in the U.S. and Afghanistan), Metesh-McCoy’s husband is still in the millitary.

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How to Thrive as a New Travel Advisor


November 2019

Michelle Marie Arean

From Army Officer to Travel Mentor

Awarded the “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the ASTA Global Convention, Ashley Metesh-McCoy understands the importance of travel advisors, and will be using the award money she received to run Kinship Vacations, helping military spouses start their own travel agencies. An Army veteran, Metesh-McCoy has worked with Carnival Corporation, and it was there where she “became increasingly aware of the continued relevance of travel agents,” she says. “I learned that travel agents can still very much thrive despite the OTAs of the world.” Soon after, she joined the Gifted Travel Network’s Travel MBA program, and its host agency.

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ASTA Announces Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalists 

Travel Agent Central

August 2019

Adam Leposa

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has announced the three finalists for its 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

The winner will be selected and announced at the ASTA Global Convention (AGC) in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, August 27. 

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Demistifying Lead Magnets for Travel Agents 

Travel Market Report 

June 2019

Richard D'Ambrosio

Lead magnets. IFOs. They go by many names and come in different shapes and sizes. But these giveaways can be a crucial tool to inspire a traveler to become a sales lead for a travel advisor, and with the right amount of nurturing, a paying client.

However, for many advisors, creating lead magnets (some kind of free travel content) is mysterious and daunting, and often causes them to never get started.



“For new travel advisors, lead magnets can be a very intimidating project,” said Ashley Metesh-McCoy, owner of Kinship Vacations, in Williamsburg, Virginia. “But email is still the No. 1 conversion tool for digital marketing, so I highly recommend lead magnets to fill your prospect database, so you can close more sales.”

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Finalists for Top to Watch award | Small Business of the Year 2019

Pilot Online

April 2019

Three Top-to-Watch Businesses will be honored with awards for 2019. Here are the six nominees.

Kinship Vacations

Kinship Vacations is a 100% woman, veteran, military spouse-owned and operated business. It provides portable career opportunities for military spouses/veterans spread across the United States and Europe. Its reach toward providing career opportunities in the military spouse community is growing every day.

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Entrepreneurial Spirit Series


February 2019

Working virtually doesn’t mean you have to work for an employer. Check out some of our favorite Virtual Entrepreneurs in the VirtForce Network in our Entrepreneurial Spirit Series.


April Wilhem – Started as a Freelance Virtual Assistant and Launched her own marketing agency. 

Ashely Metesh McCoy – Launched a virtual travel agency business after completing her active duty service. 

Kristin Schreiner – Owner of a successful online boutique!

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10 Reasons You Should Use a Travel Agent in 2019 

Travel Market Report 

January 2019

Cheryl Rosen

This year promises to be a busy one for the travel industry, as record numbers of travelers take to the skies, the rivers and the seas. With more ships, more flights and less legroom than ever, Travel Market Report asked travel agents why they think a traveler should never travel without a professional travel advisor behind them. It’s a good list to share with your clients and prospects. Here’s what they said:

1. Travel is more complicated than ever.
With 24 new cruise ships coming online — never mind the new resorts and new airline fare categories — keeping with the options is a full-time job. And the growing trend toward groups of families and friends traveling together makes each trip a much more important purchase. Having a professional help with the planning and logistics can have a big impact on how much you spend on — and how much you enjoy — your vacation.

2. Travel advisors are on top of what’s new and exciting. 
The world is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences in 2019. If you’d like to see The Passion Play at Oberammergau, the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, the cricket World Cup in Australia or the inaugural sailing of Virgin Cruise, travel professionals have access to the best tour packages and exclusive events, and they understand how to navigate the logistics, said Ashley Metesh-McCoy.

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Community Impact Awards: Kinship Vacations

CoVa Bix Magazine

December 2018

Melissa M. Stewart

Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: No full-time employees, but they work with several independent contractors—all women, including seven military spouses and four veterans from all service branches.

What They Do: A travel design firm made up of a network of military spouses and veterans that help people plan unique travel experiences.

How They Help: Kinship strives to assist military spouses and veterans in a meaningful way by offering fulfilling, portable and potentially lucrative travel career opportunities that can fully utilize their education, skills and knowledge of travel.

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A conversation with Ashley McCoy of Kinship Vacations

Simply Great Vacations with Kathy Seifert

August 2018

In this episode, I had a meaningful conversation about nurturing family relationships through travel with Ashley Metesh McCoy of Kinship Vacations. 

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Online Travel Career Summit for Military Spouses and Veterans

Daily Press

May 2018 

Unemployment and underemployment of military spouses is approximately four times higher than the general population. Travel-related careers offer a potential solution to this problem.

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia - May 7-11, 2018 - Ashley Metesh-McCoy, Owner of Kinship Vacations, LLC, and a military spouse and veteran, will host a week of education and exploration into careers in the travel industry. The information, designed specifically for her fellow military spouses and veterans will be shared via Facebook Live segments.

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Military Veterans and Family Members Encouraged to Become Travel Agents

Travel Market Report

May 2018 

Richard D'Ambrosio

As America prepares to celebrate its military members this Memorial Day weekend, industry organizations and individual travel agents are looking to enroll veterans and their family members in the travel advisor profession.

Host agency Nexion recently launched the "Nexion Veterans in Travel" scholarship program, to introduce and support veterans in exploring travel agent careers. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition for the Travel Leaders of Tomorrow Virtual Campus training program, while waiving all membership fees for eligible scholarship recipients for up to 24 months.

The Travel Leaders of Tomorrow program, which normally costs $1,800, includes the 17-week, four-module online course, weekly live instruction in a small study group, and business plan guidance. Activation and monthly fees waived under the program amount to more than $400.

Nexion President Jackie Friedman, CTC, CTIE, said a coach works with all new entrants in the program, and that Nexion has a number of veteran agents who are interested in mentoring participants in the program.

While Travel Leaders Group is throwing its national strength behind its program, travel agent and veteran Ashley Metesh-McCoy is launching her own grassroots effort to educate military service members and their spouses about a career as an independent contractor (IC) working for her two-year old company, Kinship Vacations, in Fort Eustis, Virginia.

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How Two Solo Travel Agents Use Outsourcing to Free Up Their Time

Travel Market Report

April 2018

Marilee Crocker 

Ashley Metesh-McCoy has only been selling travel since November 2016, so she’s still in growth mode, with the uneven cash flow to match. But that didn’t stop this solo travel agent from taking a bold step last October. She began outsourcing certain business tasks so she could focus on growing her agency.

It’s a move that too many entrepreneurs wait too long to make. Here’s a look at how two travel agents are using outsourcing to free up their time to do what they do best.

Shifting off responsibilities

Metesh-McCoy is owner and “head experience curator” of Kinship Vacations, a home-based travel agency in Williamsburg, Virginia. Last fall, less than a year after launching her business, she hired a professional social media manager.

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Celebrate Your Bachelor Party Without the Doghouse

Travel Pulse

July 2017

Lisa Iannucci 

Looking for a place to let loose, blow off some steam, make memories with your best buddies before your wedding and not end up in the doghouse after the bachelor party is over? 

“Despite their reputation, bachelor parties don’t have to be a cause for tension for engaged couples,” said Megan Velez, Destination Weddings Travel Group.

“Rather than booking tickets for a Hangover-inspired trip to Las Vegas, consider jetting off to tropical destinations like Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica. In addition to soaking up the sun on the beach, the group can get into all sorts of adrenaline-filled adventures, like zip lining, scuba diving and mountain trekking. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t catch some drinks at the resort bar—it just means you’ll get to experience a variety of activities throughout your stay."

Hard Rock Punta Cana

Sara Locke recommends a good time at Hard Rock Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. 

“The resort is huge, sits on a gorgeous beach, has both the best casino and best golf course in the Caribbean and plenty of things to do,” said Locke of Book Better Travel.

Get Sporty

“Horse races, such as the Kentucky Derby or European car races, such as the Monaco Grand Prix, can be a very fun and classy way for guys to get away together,” said Ashley Metesh-McCoy, owner of Kinship Vacations, in Fort Eustis, Virginia.

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Making Good Travel Better (and Bad Times Bearable)

Travel Pulse

June 2017


Travel agents love what they do, especially when it comes time to clients surprising other clients with getaways or wedding proposals.

They are also there for clients who need help during the tough times, and sometimes those stories of redemption turn out to be the best.

I asked several travel agents for their favorite customer service stories, ranging the gamut of dream, disaster and everything in between:

Birthday Surprises

Ashley Metesh-McCoy loved it when a client wanted to surprise his wife for her birthday.

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Mommy & Me

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