Meet Janella Bustamante of JB Elite Travel in Brickell

by | May 2, 2019

Interview with Janella Bustamante

As seen on

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janella Bustamante.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Where to start? I am a proud Peruvian who moved to the U.S. in January 2007 after graduating from hospitality and tourism management school.

My first job was at The Renaissance River View Plaza Mobile in Mobile, Alabama, working as a room attendant in housekeeping, and sometimes picking up extra hours as a server. I then moved to Miami in April 2008 and started my wonderful career at Mandarin Oriental. My first job was as a hostess at their all-day dining restaurant “Cafe Sambal.”

I hardly spoke any English when I first moved to America—learning and refining my English while working in these roles opened my eyes and mind in incredible ways. I was so fortunate that I always had people believing in me and pushing me to improve myself and go to the next level. That was the best thing it could have happened to me. I can say I would not be the same person nor professional without that experience.

In November 2009, I was transferred to reception as a guest services agent, and that’s where the real learning, drive, and passion came into place. It’s also when I met my mentors who helped me more fully develop as a professional—18 months later I was promoted as the Front Office Supervisor, during which time I completed major trainings, and became the Loyal Quality Trainer. I had already applied for the supervisor position a few times when I got promoted to the role. Management didn’t think I was ready but said they were willing to give me the chance. I was given six months to prove myself, or else be demoted. I wasn’t very happy about that approach, but it immediately increased my drive. I wanted to prove that I deserved the position.

In June 2013, I was promoted to Assistant Front Office Manager at our sister property in San Francisco. Moving from coast to coast was thrilling—I was excited for that changes and immediately fell in love with San Francisco. I was there for 17 months and learned so much during that time, like what not to do as a manager/leader, and how to be strong for myself and the people who believed in me. In San Francisco is where I really discovered who I was and what I wanted to do as a professional, plus I built priceless lifetime relationships with fellow peers, coworkers and guests.

"I was there for 17 months and learned so much during that time, like what not to do as a manager/leader, and how to be strong for myself and the people who believed in me. "

- Janella Bustamante

October 2014 saw me move back to Miami to the Mandarin Oriental as a Guest Relations Manager. January 2016 I was promoted as Director of Guest Relations—best job I have ever had before owning my business! My job was to make people happy, whether a royal family or someone aspiring to a better life. I learned how important it is to learn continuously—about culture, what’s happening in the world, and keeping up with trends and the evolution of so many industries, from food, wine, fashion. You have to keep up with guests’ highest expectations,  and be able to connect on an emotional level with people of all different cultures. I learned how to tailor myself and my team for success!

In January 2018 I made the toughest decision of my career. Leaving the hotel that had been my home for almost 10 years was not easy. I took on a partnership offer with an existing Travel Agency, creating a branch within the company specifically for a VIP portfolio. I loved every part of this experience—the process, the challenge, the journey, the privilege of working with that clientele on a deeper level and in a bigger picture way. While the business was running really well, the partnership wasn’t the right fit for me. I followed my gut and left with nothing lined up except one dream to follow: to continue to make a positive impact in people’s lives by connecting with them on an emotional level.

Serendipity! In a matter of weeks my biggest client called. They were coming to States and needed me. It was just me, all on my own at the time. I crunched some numbers and decided to risk everything I had in my personal bank account, got two loans from people very close to me and I registered JB Elite Travel. Things started to rock and roll like never before!

I feel such a great sense of pride for what we have built in such a short period of time. Almost five months later we are a debt-free company, increasing our portfolio of guests and contacts in the industry, and growing our experience every day !

"I feel such a great sense of pride for what we have built in such a short period of time."

- Janella Bustamante

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life is never completely smooth, there are always challenges you encounter—but that’s the beauty of it, particularly when you’ve built something from scratch. Struggles come in sizes big and small—from finding the right credit card merchant or other vendors, to getting your digital presence and marketing materials right where you want them. You have to get the right processes and partners in place. The stakes are high for us, making a name for ourselves not just locally or regionally, but in the global travel industry.

We promise, and deliver, a 24/7 operation. We have to get everything right. It requires a very open mind and a humble approach to overcome and keep things moving forward.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about JB Elite Travel – what should we know?
We specialize in global personalized luxury travel. What does that mean? For us, it’s going beyond the 5-star hotels and other luxury industry partners we work with. We deliver services that are tailored to each individual client in such a way that our clients often think they are our only client. Whether it be booking family flights at 4 a.m. because they missed their connection, or setting up a fleet of 12 cars to be ready the next morning at a private airport. We work 24/7, around the clock and every day of the year to ensure our clients are always first and know it.

Our experience working in 5-star hotels has definitely been a catalyst for how we set and deliver our own standards of service—we exceed each guest’s expectation.

What are we most proud of as a brand? Our relationships with our guests. Each one is special in their own right, and we’ve been able to go above and beyond the standard client/business relationship to one of trust and genuine care. In other words, we connect with them emotionally. We differ from other agencies in our personalization. Our guests never have to feel discouraged. We are with them at whatever time they need us to, and we provide advance teams to handle arrangements even before their trip begins. Anything we can do to ensure the arrival, entire visit and departure are effortless for our guests.

What were you like growing up?
I was a bit of an introverted girl, very opposite than nowadays. It’s interesting how things change with time.

I was born in Lima, Peru. I have an older brother and a sister, and we were raised by my father and his mother, my grandmother. Her name was Victoria and she gave me everything I needed in life—instilling a strong set of values, teaching me to be kind to others, to be humble, to fight for my dreams, to study, to love, to be a good human being.

When I was little, while other kids where playing with barbies and cars, my grandmother had my siblings and I play “The World Map.” She would extend a very large world map in the living room and throw dice across it and we’d have to tell her the capital of the country it landed, or the name of the ocean or sea it was one. Another game was “mental math” where we would be playing cards but we will have to count them, or multiply and divide them—whatever prompt she gave us, and it had to be fast. I used to internally complain  but I can’t thank her enough nowadays for being such a genius and teaching us the important things in life.

During my teen years, my introversion went out the window. I loved to be surrounded by friends, I loved to go out. I thought about a few different careers—being a doctor, because I admired my grandfather who was a doctor, or being a chef, because I loved to cook. When I realized I could combine my interests in food, wine, travel fun experiences, and caring for people—that’s when I decided to go for Hospitality Management and Tourism. That’s where my adventure started.

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