The whir of the espresso machine is background music for Tori Petry’s work day. With a travel schedule like hers, finding cute local cafés to work in has become her specialty. Today, she’s perched on a rustic bar stool in a tiny rustic café called Mountain Sage, about an hour’s drive from Yosemite National Park. In front of her, a massive wisteria climbs over the front porch of the coffee shop, adorning its roof with elegant purple flowers. Beyond that, a garden of wildflowers, and clear blue skies as far as the eye can see.
For some people, opening up your laptop in an unfamiliar café for a few hours of work is an exception; something you do once in a while. But for Tori, who creates her own schedule as a social media consultant and a Fora Advisor, it’s a typical day in her life.
“I think on social media, it looks like I'm always traveling and never working. But that work comes with me,” Tori explained. “Even though I am on the road a lot and it looks like I'm taking all of these very glamorous trips, the actual story is I’m often landing in San Francisco at 4am, driving to a little town outside of Yosemite, opening the door as soon as the café opens, working there for the entire day until it hits 5pm back on the East Coast and then trying to sneak into the park for a couple hours."
While a schedule like that can feel exhausting, Tori loves that it gives her the freedom to do things that she simply wasn’t able to do when she worked a desk job.
“It’s really fun to be able to have that flexibility,” she mused.
That flexibility doesn’t mean just taking a couple hours for a walk in the park after work, either. On this particular trip, Tori and her brother backpacked through Yosemite, covering 33 miles in three days, including a portion of the hike where the rock face was so steep, she and her brother had to pull themselves up with cables.
“Yosemite in itself is just life-changing,” she said. “You drive into the park and your jaw is just on the floor. It’s incredible.”
Tori has had a deep love of visiting national parks for as long as she can remember. Just ask her for tips and her entire face lights up. This year, she had the great fortune of planning her sister’s surprise honeymoon.
“My sister did not want to know where they were going,” she explained. “I snuck into their room the night of their wedding while they were at the reception, and it was all printed out in a booklet. The booklet would reveal where they would be getting on a plane to the next morning.”
She sent them to Big Sur, the majestic stretch of California coastline, often considered one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Later, she planned her 30th birthday party with her family to Florida’s national parks, visiting the Everglades and then taking ferries Dry Tortugas and Biscayne in the Florida Keys. In February, she’ll be marrying her fiancé in Joshua Tree.
For Tori, experiencing the natural wonders in the States is just as important as traveling overseas.
“Don’t overlook how many amazing places there are here in the US,” she advised. “No matter where you live, I'm sure there's one close to you. You might have to drive a couple of hours and it might be sort of in the middle of nowhere, but trust me, it will be worth it. I just love how beautiful our own country is.”
It may seem obvious, with this dual love of travel and the nuances of travel planning, that Tori would find her way to becoming a Fora Advisor. But her journey getting there is different than you might expect.
It started with a love of sports.
For Tori’s family, visiting stadiums and attending sporting events went hand-in-hand with a typical family vacation.
“How we spent time together was we traveled and we went to sporting events. And it was so much fun to mark different places off of our list and say, ‘Hey, we're going to this city, why don't we squeeze in a trip to the stadium?’” Tori explained.
Tori grew up an avid swimmer, but it was a convenient mistake that introduced her to the world of broadcast journalism. In high school, she got accidentally placed in a TV production class, but decided to go with it. She ended up loving it so much, it became her career. She worked as the team reporter for the Detroit Lions for seven years.
“I loved broadcasting. There is a certain adrenaline rush to it, of being on camera and needing to be in the right place and tell a story and convey a message to someone who maybe wasn't there for it,” Tori explained. “The camera turns on, and it's just ‘lights, camera, action’, and you have to be ready to go.”
During her time with the Lions, Tori started to build an Instagram following.
“I started posting about the best restaurants to go to and the best things to do in Detroit, and people got to know that I would be sharing those recommendations,” she said.
Tori traveled with the Lions all across the US to different stadiums, and that included trying different restaurants and learning local Game Day traditions in her spare time. Throughout her travels, she collected content and made notes. When she eventually left the Lions, she combined all of that information into Instagram reels of Game Day weekend guides. She’d craft recommendations of where to eat and what to do in different cities when you’re traveling somewhere to see your team play, merging her loves of travel and sports together and helping thousands of fans in the process.
“That’s when I discovered Fora,” she said.
It was through an Instagram ad.
“The ad said something like, ‘get paid to share your travel recommendations,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘well, that’s what I’m doing already.’”
For Tori, joining Fora has been the antidote she needed to satisfy her wanderlust.
“It’s so much fun to be able to use the expertise you've gathered from all of your travels and have an outlet for it,” she said. “You're not just the trip planner when it comes to your friends and family. Now, you're actually able to help someone have an amazing vacation. Being able to use that skill set is just so much fun.”
There are a lot of similarities between sports broadcasting and travel advising, when you think about it.
“As a broadcaster, you're trying to help the fan feel like they are inside of something that maybe they aren't inside of right now,” Tori explained. “As a travel advisor, you’re also helping someone understand a place they've never been by giving your recommendations. Those things all help translate that location's story. I think that is what we do as travel advisors. It is another form of storytelling.”
There’s one more critical theme that connects the world of travel advising, sports broadcasting and social media together, and that’s trust.
“In both sports and in travel, trust is extremely important,” Tori said. “As a sports broadcaster, you want people to trust that you know what you're talking about. When it comes to travel, you need people to trust you with their vacations. This is such a valuable thing to people: it’s time off work, it’s money spent. Being able to build that trust on social media, I think is the biggest win.”
Tori has confessed that she’s even brought in a few clients on social media due to the inherent trust that she’s building on her platform. It is a critical way that she has built her business as a Fora Advisor.
As a social media expert, Tori’s seen a lot of people, and especially other travel advisors, try to use social media as a sales funnel. But for Tori, social media is better used as a way to establish your expertise and build that necessary trust.
“The thing about social media is finding an area where you have expertise. So it's not just like, ‘I'm going to post about this and be totally all-sales.’ Because I think that can be exhausting for people to see on social media. Instead, offer some of your tips for free. Maybe you are a total expert on travel to Florence, Italy, and you would say, ‘make sure you go watch a sunset at this spot.’ It establishes you as an expert, it makes people want to follow you and it makes them trust you more, which makes it easier to sell them on your work. Being able to offer value on social media is the important part of building an audience.”
Even Tori has had to un-train herself on the misconceptions about what travel advisors do.
“I think that maybe people, at least in my generation, associate travel advising with someone at Costco who pull out a big one-size-fits-all catalog,” she laughed. “But travel advising is custom. It's bespoke. It's catered to your needs and your tastes and your budget and the things that you want to do. It's listening, it's a real human being listening to you say, ‘This is what I want out of my vacation.’ It’s not cookie cutter."
That deeper understanding of travel advising has completely changed the way she views the work, and has even made her a bit outspoken so that others understand it, too.
“I’m on board with bringing back the travel agent,” Tori said. “I want people to say, ‘hey, working with a travel advisor was great, it was so much fun to be able to take my hands off of my trip, and it would have taken me hours and hours to find this on my own.’ I want to be able to give people a great impression of working with a travel advisor because we’re all on board with that mission of changing the perception of what travel is.”
Want to book your next trip with Tori? Reach out to her today.