Keeping Busy Is In Her Blood
As a young girl growing up at the General American Camp in Loco Hills, being able to travel and experience beautiful and exotic places was a childhood dream of Irene Hokett. Being a member of the travel industry for 30 years, she says, has helped many of those dreams become a reality.
“My first opportunity to experience my dream of travel was when I was store manager of the Artesia Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company from 1971 to 1983,” she recalls. “I had the chance to win trips to Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico. I also got to go on a Caribbean cruise and a Hawaiian cruise for exceeding my annual sales quotas.”
Hokett’s dreams didn’t end with traveling the world though. In 1983 she purchased the Artesia Montgomery Ward’s catalogue franchise in order to fulfill another of her lifelong dreams: owning her own business. “But I was hooked on travel, so I decided I could operate a travel agency inside my Montgomery Ward’s store,” she said. Problem solved!
Hokett said she worked for a travel agent in Carlsbad for three years until she could get her own Surety Bond and become certified as a fully accredited travel agent. “We named our agency Busy Bee Travel Agency and came up with a motto: You won’t get stung by letting us BUZZ you to where you need to BEE.”
Things were going smoothly until 1986 when Montgomery Ward closed all franchise catalogue stores. “I was now left with Busy Bee Travel as my primary source of income,” she noted. “At the time, there were three travel agencies in Artesia, so a lot of hard work was required to keep the agency profitable. But with the support of the local community, we were able to survive!”
For the first 13 of her past 30 years in business, Busy Bee Travel was located in a small office at 116 S. Roselawn Ave. “My daughter, Danielle Denson, joined me during this time,” she said. And in 1999 the duo purchased the current location at 410 W. Main Street, once home to Dana Hill State Farm. “It was much larger and gave us better exposure on Main Street,” she said.
“I am so blessed to be able to work with my mom,” Hokett’s daughter, Danielle shared. “It’s not always easy, but we get along well and we work well together!”
As its name would suggest, Busy Bee Travel services include cruises with all cruise lines, hotel bookings, car rentals, airline tickets, Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusive packages and just about anything else related to travel.
In addition, they make passport photos, plan organized, hosted motor coach tours to Branson, Missouri, and the Grand Ole Opry and recently booked their first tour of New Orleans with 45 passengers.
What some people might not know, however, is that other than travel options, Busy Bee also offers tanning, spray tanning, and jewelry and crystal collectibles. In fact, Hokett proudly displays several pieces of crystal that she designed with Crystal World, a world-renowned company specializing in full-cut faceted crystal. “I have been able to design some crystals for some very special people,” she boasts, “one of which was The Derrick Floor, a piece the Chamber of Commerce had me create for George W. Bush to present to him when he came to Artesia to speak to the high school seniors at the Chase Scholarship awards. This was very exciting for me!”
In addition, Hokett said the Chamber also asked them to design a crystal collectible for the city’s centennial, which they titled ‘100 Years and Still Flowing.’”
Some of the other more memorable crystal collectibles the ladies at Busy Bee helped design included a pick-up and horse trailer for Webb Ranches and a school bus that was engraved to replicate the Bulldog activity bus, which was presented to Coach Cooper Henderson.
“Busy Bee has been in business in Artesia for 30 years and we love what we do,” Hokett said. “We would love to help you plan your family vacation or business travel, and we invite you to come to Busy Bee for your travel needs. You won’t get stung by letting us BUZZ you where you need to BEE!”