Close Icon
Allowed Formats: (123) 456-7890

Debbie and Wallis Fairvalley

Inheriting Wanderlust

Creating Travel Businesses for the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Many entrepreneurs, regardless of industry, have a desire to create a business that can be passed down to the next generation, and travel is no different. At Brownell, we are honored to have many accomplished advisors who’ve not only built successful travel businesses but have also inspired the next generation to follow in their footsteps. We asked a few of these dynamic duos to share what they have learned from each other, what inspired them to enter the travel industry, and what they are looking forward to when it comes to the future of their business. Discover how Debbie and Wallis Fairvalley, Pat and Taylor Bowden, and Martha and Michael Gaughen turned their wanderlust into a family business.

Discover the Family-Run Businesses

Michael Gaughen

Martha Gaughen

Discover the Family-Run Businesses

Debbie Fairvalley and her daughter Wallis co-founded their travel business, Red Letter Travel, to create specially curated travel experiences and make dreams come to life. With over 15 years in the industry, it’s no surprise that Debbie’s expertise inspired Wallis to follow in her footsteps. Wallis was recently named on Travel Age West’s 30under30 list and helped launch a Millennials in Travel chapter in Atlanta.

Also, part of the Red Letter Travel team is the mother-daughter duo Pat and Taylor Bowden, who entered the travel industry around the same time. While Pat joined Brownell to launch her second career, Taylor worked for another luxury agency for 1.5 years to learn the business and build her own network of clients. When travel returned after the pandemic, Taylor was inspired to join forces with Pat and become a part of the Brownell advisor community.

Advisor Michael Gaughen always knew of the travel industry from his mom Martha, who has been a part of Brownell since 2004. Martha always had a passion for the travel business, yet it wasn’t until Michael began assisting Martha in her business operations that he decided to shift gears to become an advisor. Michael now co-owns M&L Travel with fellow advisor Lillyta Lyn while Martha serves on Brownell’s Board of Directors.

Pat and Taylor Bowden

Establishing a Legacy

Debbie, Pat, and Martha all had unique journeys that ultimately led them to launch a travel career, but each desired to create a business that their children would see as a notable profession through the support and opportunities the Brownell community provided.


“The job provides flexibility to have a “life” outside work and enriches your personal outlook on the world and different cultures. It expands your knowledge and allows you to consistently live out your dreams! Who would not want this for their children?” –Debbie Fairvalley


“After being in corporate America for most of my life, building a business at 58 was just a little crazy. Travel was a passion for both me and Taylor, [and as] I was building my book of business I needed help.  Taylor was the one who suggested, “Mom, wouldn’t it be nice to go into business together?”  And isn’t that just what any mother wants to hear?” -Pat Bowden


“My family has always loved to travel and growing up my children had some amazing travel experiences. None of them grew up thinking they would come into the business with me but at different times in their adult lives, two of my children chose [travel] as their career path.” -Martha Gaughen

Continuing the Journey

While there are many reasons our advisors enter the travel business, Wallis, Taylor, and Michael can attribute the allure to watching the success and passion of their parents.

“My early exposure to the world of travel [from Debbie] planted the seed for my career choice. I grew up understanding that a career in travel would not just be a job, but a gateway to fulfilling my passion for exploration. This seamless blend of personal passion and professional ambition is what drew me into the industry, and it continues to be my driving force.” -Wallis Fairvalley

“I find it inspiring how much [my mom] was able to grow her business over the last few years. Funny enough, we joined the industry around the same time, so we both agreed we should join forces and here we are today!” -Taylor Bowden

“My mother always enjoyed sharing her passions, and that included travel… Martha has always loved being in the travel industry and I was able to experience the comradery and strong community that is the core of Brownell. I am a firm believer that if you enjoy and are passionate about what you do, then success will follow. You feel the excitement and joy when she talks about Brownell, and who doesn’t want that?” -Michael Gaughen

Navigating the Industry Together

As the travel industry continues to evolve, being able to adapt and learn from each other is an important factor for success. When asked, each advisor said they have gained so much insight from their family member:

“One of the best things I have learned from Michael is to be open to new ways of doing things that accomplish a desired outcome.” -Martha Gaughen

“My mother has taught me so many invaluable lessons in life and business… I cherish the ability to strengthen and build long-lasting relationships with clients and suppliers alike, of which all my skills were honed under Martha’s wing.” -Michael Gaughen

“Both of us have learned so much; our world has been expanded to places we never thought we’d see, and we are mastering the art of running a business.  Our individual strengths and talents complement each other, and we both balance each other out in many ways.” -Pat Bowden

“My mom’s previous experience in sales and how to build lasting relationships has helped me learn and grow immensely. I feel I have helped bring some new ideas and ways of efficiency to the table, so together we are a compatible power unit, and continuing to grow.” -Taylor Bowden

“Wallis has taught me that you have to “keep up” with technology and be relevant to today’s trends. You are never too old to adapt!” -Debbie Fairvalley

“The most significant learning [from Debbie] has been her deep knowledge of hidden travel gems that only come with seasoned experience. Equally enlightening has been my experience in client engagement. Silently observing Debbie’s interactions during client calls has been a masterclass in itself, teaching me the nuances of addressing diverse client needs and preferences. It’s truly enriched my approach in the luxury travel sector.” -Wallis Fairvalley

Advice for Up-and-Coming Entrepreneurs

Having a built-in mentor to look up to in the travel business is a unique advantage our second-generation advisors have, yet the legacy advisors believe there are still plenty of opportunities for those seeking to join the business – and plenty of ways to learn from other advisors, especially in a knowledgeable community like Brownell.


“My advice to [Michael] and others is to never compromise your values, stay true to yourself, and always go the extra mile for your client. Everyone can make this business what they want it to be.” -Martha Gaughen


“My advice: explore every chance you get to see new and different places and network with everyone you can – especially the more seasoned advisors – to better understand how they work, who they partner with, how they engage with their clients, and what makes them successful. Most importantly, find a mentor!” -Debbie Fairvalley


“Wisdom and youth are a perfect blend to run a travel business.  Clients respect the experience we bring to the table in both our professionalism, handling travel bumps in the road, and providing valuable advice since we have “been there and done that.” Remember: It’s still a personal relationship business. People buy from people they know and trust.” -Pat Bowden

The Future of the Family Business

Looking ahead, each of these duos is excited about what’s in store for their respective businesses, and the direction the industry is heading. When it comes to the travel industry, the future looks bright:

“We’re excited to attend educational trips and vendor travel conventions such as Virtuoso, Brownell Academy, and LE Miami.  Building relationships is one of our favorite parts of this job!” -Pat and Taylor Bowden

“I am excited for the young people who are finding a very lucrative and fulfilling career in this business.  I love the professionalism our industry is experiencing now – the consultative sales process is wonderful. There is a very bright future ahead and no signs of slowing down…” -Debbie Fairvalley

“We are thrilled about the growing emphasis on sustainable and responsible travel. As a luxury travel agency, we can lead the way in promoting and facilitating travel experiences that are not only extraordinary but also mindful of environmental and cultural sustainability. Additionally, we look forward to leveraging new technologies and digital innovations to enhance our clients’ travel experiences, from personalized trip planning to seamless, tech-enhanced stays.” -Wallis Fairvalley

“Future AI technology will impact how and who we do business with, and opportunity is around every corner. Those who create and innovate will be admired, and those who embrace new tech like AI will be the rising stars.” -Marth Gaughen

“What excites me most about the future of travel is that I feel people are prioritizing what is important to them and travel is a part of their conversation. Through recent years, we have learned that we can work and learn remotely, freeing up more time to enjoy each other. I suspect the trend of loved ones traveling more frequently and for longer periods to keep growing.  For this reason, I feel that having a travel advisor is now more important than ever.” -Michael Gaughen

Create Your Own Legacy

Learn About Our Hosting Program

Have you wished to launch your own family business in the travel industry? Are you or a relative desiring a new career that lasts for generations to come? Discover how you can launch your career as a travel advisor with Brownell.