When Kimberly Wilson Wetty joined Valerie Wilson Travel in February 1995, she assumed it was “just the next step” in her career, but all of that changed once she sat behind the desk. A graduate of Bucknell University with a B.A. in Sociology, Kimberly had begun her career as a store manager for Ann Taylor, but soon left retail to pursue a career in the travel industry. In her starting role as Marketing Coordinator for CIGA Hotels, she successfully launched several fresh marketing initiatives and recognized her true passion was for marketing and brand strategy within the luxury travel market. That passion then came to fruition within VWT, where she was instrumental in developing the company’s cruise division and was responsible for launching the company’s first website, making VWT one of the first in the industry to go digital. Over her tenure, she has imagined the unimaginable and created unique and strategic programs that benefit not only the customer, but the suppliers and VWT team.
Today, as Co-President & Owner, her oversight encompasses the company’s Leisure Travel division, their membership in Virtuoso®, and leading the VWT Strategic Committee. In addition, Kimberly remains responsible for all brand and marketing strategy for VWT.
Renowned for her extensive travel expertise, Kimberly has been awarded many honors in the industry, including Virtuoso® Cruise Ambassador of the Year, Family Travel Specialist on Travel + Leisure’s “A-List” and Most Innovative Advisor Award from Virtuoso®. She currently sits on Travel + Leisure’s Travel Advisory Board, Six Senses Advisory Board, Celebrity Cruises Advisory Board and the Virtuoso US Member Advisory Board and Marketing Committee. She is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), recently served as President of the Bucknell University Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is on the Swim Across America Board of Directors. She has become a go-to luxury travel expert, sharing her advice and experiences with the media, both on and off camera, and has participated in many industry round tables and panel discussions.
At home, she raises her two children by her lifelong motto of, “explore with an open heart and an open mind,” keeping the family both globally and domestically engaged. She is an active volunteer in her home community of Bronxville, New York, where she enjoys swimming and cooking, and always makes time for her children’s school and athletic activities. Kimberly also enjoys running, a hobby that has allowed her to see far-flung destinations from the plains of Kenya to the Great Wall of China up close and on foot, as well as to complete the New York Marathon in her home state.
While I swore I would never join the family business, I am grateful I did 25 years ago. Growing up traveling, living overseas, and seeing my mom create a company from a simple idea, were instrumental experiences in my life. I was taught that first impressions matter, stay true to your values at all times, and if you believe in something, go for it. While juggling career and family isn’t easy, I have learned that you can balance it as long as you make time for what matters to you. A travel career has afforded me global friendships, countless memories, and an opportunity to give back.
I believe travel is the greatest educator there is and my personal motto has always been to explore with an open heart and an open mind. With more compassion, love, empathy and understanding, barriers and boundaries can be broken. Remember to live, laugh and love while you travel!