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Meet Shana O’Mara of The Pixie Planner in Tempe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shana O’Mara.

Shana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am an Arizona/Phoenix native- raised in the West Valley. I completed my undergrad in political science at NAU and stayed there to complete a Master in Education in School Counseling. I moved on to work in Higher Education, as both an academic counseling manager and faculty. During my time in Higher Ed, I completed an MBA and a Project Management certificate from the University of Phoenix.

In 2014, I started an at-home business while working full-time and saw the potential to work for myself. I left my corporate job in late 2014, to work for myself. This was a learning process, trying new ideas until I found the “right” one. In late 2015, I started looking at becoming a Disney Authorized Travel Agent, because I was always the friend who had found the best travel deals. I was also a lifelong Disney fan, with an Annual Pass to Disneyland. I applied to work with a Disney travel company, and while I was waiting, I started to piece together what I could do on my own.

I realized that I always saved BIG over most travel sites. I realized that people have the tools out there to plan their own travel, but don’t have the time to research and find the best deals. This is when I decided to launch The Pixie Planner. We officially started in 2016. We are not a travel agent, but instead, provide a service finding the best deals for our customers. We charge no more than 10% for our time, and consistently save our customers hundreds on their vacations.

In 2017, we tripled our 2016 revenue and are on pace to reach over 750K-1 million in sales in 2018. I brought in an amazing business partner, Misty Pollina, in 2016. She has a background in direct sales and has reached the top of her industry. Together, we have grown from a team of 2 planners to 8. We have grown organically through social media and word of mouth. It has been a labor of love and I am blessed to be able to do what I love every single day.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest challenge for us has been funding. I did not have a large amount of start-up funds, so minimal overhead was critical. I also had to continue doing other work while building the business. In 2016, I partnered with a social media management company to help run their operations. In exchange, and in combination with my salary, it ran my company’s social media presence.

Starting out a new company can be challenging, and having a consistent social media presence was a large contributing factor to our success. I highly suggest that business owners make this a priority. Our social media also drives customers to our website, generating leads.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Pixie Planner story. Tell us more about the business.
The Pixie Planner can help plan most trips and specializes in Disneyland and Disney World trips. Our goal is to save our customers money, and we also are full-service Concierge for your trip. We teach customers all about Disneyland and only recommend hotels we love and trust. Most people find they save more than even doing it themselves because we shop the deals, but we do all of the work!! We include an in-person or phone planning session before customers travel to get them park ready. We’re on call for help when our customers are traveling as well.

What sets us apart from other travel planners is a focus on saving money. We are not bound to travel agent rates, because we are shopping available deals.

I am most proud of the value we provide our customers. The Pixie Planner has over 50 5-star reviews, with no customer complaints in over 2 years in business. We truly care about our customer – and if an issue ever arises, we go above and beyond to make it right for the customer. Our customers come back to us to plan future travel, and act as our brand ambassadors online, referring us to friends and family.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
The best luck for me was not receiving a call back from the Disney travel company I applied to. One month after launching my business, and booking over $10,000 in travel, I received a rejection letter from that company. I laughed a little, knowing I had found a better option.

Pricing:

  • Concierge services are available for customers who would like assistance with planning without a full package, starting at $25

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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