Great Bend may not be an international travel hot spot, but it’s the center of the universe for the clients of Paula Axman’s four-person travel agency in a small rural community of 16,000. “The nearest city of comparable size is 60 miles away. Yet Paula, individually, and as leader of our agency, regularly garners national peer recognition for herself and our agency,” says office manager Larry Kopke. Over the course of her 27-year career, Axman has been a Collette “Agent of the Year,” a “Top National Producer” for Globus Family of Brands and one of American Express’ “Top 50 Representatives,” apart from bagging other honors. A credo of “Small Town Caring — Worldwide” has also given her a book of repeat business any professional would envy. Some clients of the Vacation.com agency have participated in more than 70 hosted travel programs. Others belong to the “Seven Continents Club.” More than 1,000 have taken five or more tours, while others are in the “Super World Travelers Club,” with 10 or more international tours. “Paula’s empathy and attention to detail are largely responsible for these positive results,” says Kopke. Sometimes those details would tax the patience of a less-dedicated agent. On one recent European tour, a group of female clients was determined to catch a glimpse of George Clooney near his villa in Italy. That didn’t come to pass. But Axman kept her eyes open until she found a suitable lookalike, and convinced him to pose for pictures. Unmatched personal service is clearly a secret to Axman’s success. Sometimes that service is to the community at large.
In 2016, Axman’s agency marks its golden anniversary. Commemorations include a book about the principals’ half-century in the business. “As a collaborator, Paula arranged for 100 percent of the book’s proceeds to go to a children’s cancer fighting charity,” says Kopke.