Who I am
At Shakespeare Agency, we partner with travel and tourism brands to bring extraordinary experiences to travelers.
Many travel influencers and agencies that were in their infancy at the beginning of the global pandemic barely survived. In fact, a lot of them didn’t survive at all. When Lisa-Gaye Shakespeare went all in on her travel career in late 2019, she had no idea that just around the corner was an event that had the potential to bring her business to its knees. But as the travel industry worldwide burned down, Lisa refused to give up on her dream. With an innovative approach, Shakespeare Agency rose from the ashes to become a successful travel agency, first within Jamaica and, as the global borders began to reopen, around the world.
Lisa-Gaye Shakespeare caught the travel bug early. At age 12, she visited Cuba on a school trip from her homeland of Jamaica and was immediately captured by the vibrance and diversity of the culture, the food, and the people. As she grew older, Lisa knew she wanted to travel, but it took some time to become a viable business dream as well. As 2019 drew to an end, so too did Lisa’s corporate career, and she became a full-time travel influencer with a vision of bringing the world to her audience and taking her audience to the world.
Where the challenges started
Mere months later, the travel industry grinded to a halt amid the first throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the future of life as a travel influencer looked grim. Lisa wasn’t about to give up, though, and when she took some time to revisit why she started her business, the solution was obvious. With international travel off limits indefinitely and her homeland borders closed to the rest of the world, Lisa decided to bring Jamaica to them instead.
Knowing why she started her travel business has been the single most important ingredient to Lisa’s success. As a young woman of color traveling the world, there were times and places she visited where Lisa couldn’t lay eyes on anyone else like her. She recognized that, for a lot of people of color, travel seemed unattainable and expensive. This was no more apparent than in her own family and friends network, with many of her loved ones never having set foot outside of their own country. Making travel attainable and attractive to people of color drove Lisa to start her own agency, planning travel for others and specializing in planning vacations for people to visit her Caribbean home.
As other travel influencers were scrambling to get home, find long-term places to stay, or try to work out how to keep their lifestyles and businesses afloat, Lisa got to work. She spent time connecting with local businesses, visiting sites she had previously neglected, and sharing all of it with her growing following. Lisa recognized that in the absence of being able to jump on a plane and travel themselves, the next move for her audience was to jump on Instagram and travel vicariously. This pandemic pivot provided space for Shakespeare Agency to grow and for Lisa to hone her skillset around travel promotion and content creation. Each local excursion was a chance to try something new with her camera, share something different to test what her audience wanted more of or review and promote a local business to the world. That last part presented an opportunity Lisa hadn’t fully explored before the pandemic. Collaborating with hospitality providers, local tour companies, and tourism companies is something that Lisa is starting to do more frequently now, and it is paying dividends for her business.
As the global lockdowns continued, so too did Lisa’s Jamaican exploration. With each experience shared, she was carefully curating content that told her exactly what resonated with her audience and with her. Learning more about what she loves to see, experience, and do while traveling to her homeland has shaped many of the experiences Lisa has had post-pandemic. This has also ensured that she has grown an audience of like-minded travelers and people attracted to similar experiences and adventures, which is a key aspect of any influencer business. When the world started to open up, and the travel industry got back on its feet, Shakespeare Agency began to offer travel planning for visitors to the Caribbean. With appetites whet through months of vicarious travel experiences, many foreign visitors to the region were not just keen to visit but also interested in getting the best and most authentic experience possible, and Lisa did not fail to deliver.
As her own desire to travel grew, Lisa sought out experiences that she knew would align with her audience. Much of her content relates to Africa and the Caribbean, and maintaining her focus on encouraging more people of color to travel internationally, Shakespeare Agency’s Instagram feed is a vibrant mix of colors, culture, and people that look just like her audience. One of the most important strategies used to grow Shakespeare Agency to what you see now has been the strategy of following her passion. Lisa has created a platform that shares her deep love for the Caribbean, but followers are also privy to her own journey of reconnecting to her African roots and creating a network of fellow women of color who love to travel. With her passion for food, nightlife, luxury, and adventure all evident in the content she creates, Lisa has curated a brand that embraces her sense of fun and her love of people, making her content and her brand a highly engaging and desirable partner for travelers and tourism partners alike.
The success of a travel agency is usually rooted in how many people want to travel using their services, but this is only part of the equation for Shakespeare Agency. Working with tourism providers to use and review their services for her audience has been a game changer for Lisa, reducing her own travel costs, providing great content, and creating a network of accommodation providers, tourism companies, restaurants, and bars that she can recommend to her audience, and book her travel groups into, ensuring a reputation for high-quality experiences that showcase the best a destination has to offer. There is no doubt that there are still challenges facing the travel industry and travel influencers like Lisa in the post-pandemic world. Airlines are facing increased demand with insufficient staff, meaning much higher prices and fewer services than travelers are used to. Many tourism providers are still trying to recover from the almost overnight catastrophic loss of international tourists. Travelers are slowly coming to terms with the need to navigate an ever-changing landscape of entry requirements for international borders. With all of those challenges, though, comes opportunity.
The opportunity for the travel industry now is in the complexity of traveling internationally, and the increased desire from travelers for simplicity. Hiring someone who knows what the visa and entry requirements are, how to get the best deal from an airline, and how to find the most reliable and affordable tourism providers is something more and more travelers are willing to consider. The added sense of security when traveling with a group, particularly a group led by a seasoned traveler who has arranged the trip themselves, is hugely appealing for people like those who follow Shakespeare Agency.
Advice to others about business
Perhaps that is the secret of Lisa’s success. Among all of the travel influencers out there, telling you where to find the best experiences, the best deals, and the most wow for your travel dollar, Lisa-Gaye is right there with you. On the dancefloor of the nightclubs in Kampala, Uganda. On the Aloha Ubud Swing, swinging out over the rice paddies of Bali. Beachside at the local bar in Curacao. Beating the drums with locals in West Africa. Sipping cocktails on the deck of a sunset cruise in the Caribbean. Whichever destination has caught your wandering eye, you can guarantee that Shakespeare Agency can get you there. No travel-based business has complete certainty around what the future holds. The past few years have demonstrated just how quickly the landscape of our global lives can change, but with innovation, passion, and a willingness to stay focused on the future, it is possible to build a resilient, highly successful business. The experience of Lisa-Gaye Shakespeare has proven that adaptability and the desire to build a business you love are two of the most important tools you will need on your entrepreneurial journey, and can be the difference between watching your business fall apart from external pressures or rising from the ashes of an industry under fire.