This traveler extraordinaire is now pouring her passion into a business aimed at providing meaningful trips to places far and near. Jody Rose Franko is living the dream as a home-based Travel Agent.
An Independent Contractor with Montrose Travel, her host agency located in California, Franko works through her Rose of the Winds Travel in rural Floyd County, Virginia. She uses business experience gained through the years along with her own personal travels to offer leisure and business clients a unique experience.
Making travel fun and easy is her job. “I prefer the term travel consultant although I am technically an agent. My work is to help clients by offering convenience and confidence. Shopping online for air and booking options is typically stressful and has a substantial level of uncertainty due to the high volume of inconsistent information and unknown quality and reliability,” she comments. Membership with IATA (International Air Transport Association) and other industry networks gives her access to quality preferred suppliers at all price points. She explains she also has “access to highly knowledgeable and experienced travel experts” to advise her on all travel questions.
Franko says “finding the absolute rock bottom cheapest prices takes time and doesn’t guarantee quality or access to help if anything is not as it should be”. She views herself as her clients’ travel advocate before, during and after a trip.
This travel agent also specializes in small group tours, led by herself or a group representative. Rose of the Winds Travel will be taking a small group to Iceland in March of 2017; highlights will include Iceland’s black sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and geysers, lava fields and volcanoes, the continental rift, geothermal pools and nightly aurora hunting. Customized independent travels to explore new places are also offered.
Franko is also promoting one of her favorite places, her home community. With Floyd As A Destination, she hopes to not only arrange for travel to the Southwest Virginia locale, but also to connect Floyd visitors to lodging, dining, entertainment, local art, services, and agrotourism by offering travel packages and opportunities for Floyd Local Tours. This project is currently in the research and development phase, and she is inviting input from Floyd residents who want to be involved. Tour ideas include wineries, art, bicycle, hiking and stone churches.
Even though her business just recently launched, Franko has already booked travel in Thailand, Belize, Ireland, Scotland, India, Mexico, Italy, Norway, Iceland, Germany and several locations in the United States. Her agency offers services for all types of group travel and vacation packages, cruises, resorts, voluntourism, educational travel and more. Groups include families and friends, reunions, businesses, special events and interests. Fundraising for churches and non-profits are also provided.
“I was thrilled to use Jody’s travel business because I do travel a lot for work and of course go to Italy once or twice a year because I teach there and own a small place,” said artist Donna Polseno. “Over the years it feels like a whole other job I have, to look for the best price and most convenient tickets. I spend hours in front of the computer looking at all the options between leaving here from Roanoke, or Charlotte, or Greensboro, etc. and then I can fly to Rome, Pisa, or Milan. Jody was fun and sweet to work with and gave me just the amount of information I needed to choose after I gave her my various guidelines. I will use her services from now on.”
Local resident Jim Newlin and wife Silvie Granatelli have used Jody’s services for an overseas trip, which involved planning for transportation, finding places to stay, deciding what sights to see, “and maneuvering through all sorts of decisions,” he said. “She made it easy for us by making suggestions and being patient as we changed our minds. I plan to use her again. She does it all with grace and humor.”
Franko also specializes in Romance Travel – Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, Anniversary and Vow Renewal Ceremonies. “Weddings and honeymoons are one of the most important times in a person’s life and the beginning of a couple’s life together. Rose of the Winds Travel gives professional and personalized attention to create a dream come true event.
“A brilliant new service we offer for engaged couples is a Honeymoon Registry,” she continued. “Couples can create their ideal honeymoon and provide a gifting opportunity for friends and family to participate. The average marriage age is now 29 for men and 27 for women. Many of these young couples have already spent money on establishing households and usually don’t need another toaster. With more couples paying for some or all of their wedding expense, many couples find themselves settling for less than their dream honeymoon. A honeymoon registry is a new way of helping brides and grooms have the experience of their dreams.”
Franko says she was greatly inspired and helped in her business start-up by Floyd County’s Community and Economic Development Director Lydeana Martin, Economic Development Authority Chairman Jon Beegle, and the EDA’s Entrepreneur Express series in March 2015. She was also assisted by biz coach Sarah Beth Jones, who also has a home-based business, NoBS, located just a few miles down the road from Franko.
For most of 2015 Franko was involved in Travel Agent course work, training and business development. Her first business was The Mountain Rose Dance Center in 1995. She also later spent 8 years helping to develop a local non-profit.
Now with a unique business for Floyd County – being billed as its first travel agency – she is taking on a new endeavor. “I’m glad to be back in the rich entrepreneurial Floyd spirit with Rose of the Winds Travel,” she says.
Franko describes herself as “a passionate red-headed Leo who loves big, works hard, digs deep into projects and values kindness and integrity. I collect interests.” She adds that her first devotion was nature and playing outdoors at the beach and in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which led to a study of horticulture at Virginia Tech and tissue culture in Israel. “Coming home the long way from Israel through Europe kicked off what has become decades of exploration in the States, Canada, Mexico, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. From the onset I realized that by challenging myself through delving into new experiences and cultures I found deeper connections with the greater realities and mysteries of our complex world and with myself.”
For years, Franko says she served as a de facto travel advisor for her friends, family and colleagues, and with her husband and children, family and friends she has shared “many fine adventures.” Now she is using her talent and energy to take her love of travel to new levels.
For more information call Franko at 540-613-1361, email, or visit
Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2016 9:10 am
Wanda Combs | The Floyd Press