Faces Of Fargo Business: Cindy Tyo

Written by: Brady Drake

Over the years, Cindy and her staff have always worked extremely hard on behalf of their corporate and leisure travel clients. Cindy has taken her agency in Fargo to new levels thanks, in part, to creating an entire division specializing in destination weddings and honeymoon travel. 

Cindy, who is originally from Argyle, MN, moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area after high school, and originally planned to build a career in the medical field. But by the age of 19, after working in a hotel and travel agency in the area, she realized her passion was travel. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Tyo worked as a travel agency manager in Crookston, MN, and Fargo-Moorhead. Tyo then spent several years in Los Angeles, CA, before returning to Fargo – first to manage her current agency, then becoming the agency’s owner in 2003.

Cindy has found herself in elite and rarified company, as one of the only people ever to win both of Travel Leaders’ highest honors: Associate of the Year and The Golden Legacy Award. The Golden Legacy Award ranks as the single highest honor any Travel Leaders Associate may receive and celebrates the award winner’s lifetime career achievements. Accompanying those two prestigious honors, Cindy was among the first to earn Travel Leaders’ “Agency of Excellence” award.  Only 23 franchisees nationally were honored with that distinction. To earn the “Agency of Excellence” award, Travel Leaders agencies are scored in several categories that reflect business growth; utilization of marketing programs to effectively reach local consumers; participation in key training programs to enhance service to their clients, as well as in local and national business networking meetings, and their overall promotion of the Travel Leaders brand. Cindy has received this award in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Travel Leaders “Above and Beyond” Award in 2013, and Travel Leaders “Golden Circle” Award in 2008-2019. 

Take us through a typical day in your life.

Now, in the last 10 months, it is much different than the rest of my career. Today we’re all dealing with shifts and changes, seemingly every hour, due to the current landscape we are living in. Working with industry leaders, business leaders and working to implement the changes for safety and for new protocols has been my day-to-day since the arrival of COVID-19. So ask me this again in the next few years, and I will paint you a much different and hopefully much brighter picture.  

How does the reality of your job differ from people’s perception of it?

Because I travel the world for work: I’m just on vacation. In some ways it makes sense, as I truly love what I do, but I’m putting in 12-14 hour days in meeting rooms and on busses when I travel for work, like most people who travel for work. I just so happen to be having my meetings in Cancun or Prague! 

What’s your “why”?

The moment I see everything I love about travel in someone else’s expression for the first time. Like my son when he got done bungee jumping for the first time in New Zealand to observing the transformation of a client as they conquer their fear of heights to go zip lining in Costa Rica.  The knowledge and experience gained, and the doors opened through travel is priceless.

What’s one way you foster creativity within your organization?

Trying to get my team out of their comfort zones and empowering my team to the point where they allow themselves to be ambitious and present new ideas. 

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.