Possessing more than 15 years of professional expertise, Jill M. Chitwood utilizes her business acumen to excel as a travel consultant and co-owner of Sights Unseen Travel Agency, a Cruise Brothers affiliate. Alongside her husband and business partner, Wayne Chitwood, the pair spearheaded the travel agency in 2017 and have come to specialize in arranging all-inclusive cruises and customized trips. Among her numerous duties, Ms. Chitwood is responsible for organizing all-inclusive trips and cruises, booking rental cars, hotels, personalized trips, travel insurance, villas, rental cabins and homes, as well as group packages.
Ms. Chitwood became inspired to launch a travel consultancy after a negative experience working with a prominent travel company. The company incorrectly booked her and her husband’s travel accommodations, which also involved them missing out on multiple perks that they had anticipated. Displeased with the company’s attempts to offer credit and make right of the situation, Ms. Chitwood’s husband came up with the idea to explore opening their own travel consultancy, where they would treat clients respectfully and never take advantage of them for their money.
Finding vast success in her entrepreneurial endeavors, Ms. Chitwood has received multiple accolades, including a nomination for the Torch Award for Ethics from the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio and the award for Best Travel Agency in Marion County in 2022 and 2023. Upon reflection, she attributes her success to a genuine desire to help people experience amazing trips and create long-lasting memories. For her, it has never been about the money but rather about offering her clients a seamless experience in planning vacations, which can be a daunting and stressful task without the necessary knowledge and guidance. Proudly serving by her company motto: “The world is your playground, so travel,” she received certification from the International Air Transport Association in 2017 to help her further excel in her chosen field.
Before her career as a travel consultant, Ms. Chitwood prepared for her future by earning an associate degree in business administration and management at Marion Technical College in 1982. She began her career as an advisor and an independent associate at Mannatech Incorporated from 2004 to 2007. During this time, she was also active as an office manager and director of game day operations for the Marion Mayhem Professional Indoor Arena Football Team from 2006 until 2010. Between 2011 and 2013, she contributed to the Bucyrus American Red Cross, as well as IPI Photography as their Santa set manager.
Continuing her career journey, Ms. Chitwood served as the owner and chief executive officer of the United Indoor Football League with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters Professional Indoor Arena Football Team from 2011 and 2014. During three of those four years, Ms. Chitwood and her husband were league representatives with the Continental Indoor Football League. She was also a marketing executive and operations director for community and game day events with the Marion Blue Racers Pro Indoor Football Team from 2015 to 2016.
During these years involved in the sports industry, Ms. Chitwood and her husband were involved in rebuilding two youth baseball fields in their school district. With the community’s support, they were able to build the fields and donate additional funds for the cause. From this project, Ms. Chitwood was nominated and elected to the Marion County chapter of the American Red Cross, which honored her with the Clara Barton Spectrum Award for Women for Humanitarian Service in 1999, something she recounts as one of the most memorable moments of her career. A humanitarian and civic-minded individual, she has also dedicated two years to serving as president of the Marion Business Builders chapter of the Business Network International.
One of her more recent endeavors was establishing the Marion K9 Project in 2022. The organization, soon to be a registered 501c3 nonprofit, is a cornhole, car show and family fun day for the community that raises funds for K9 organizations in her town. In 2022, they raised over $42,500 for a new K9 officer with the Marion Police Department and helped to fund the K9 unit of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The 2023 event raised $8,500 for the Marion Humane Society and the 2024 event will be for the Marion K9 Memorial, which honors all the K9s that had severed the Marion County area. As a result of the work, Ms. Chitwood was honored with the Citizen Mpact Award from the Marion Police Department for her service throughout 2022. She was also awarded the title of “Miami Adviser Ambassador” by Travel Weekly and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Moreover, Ms. Chitwood and Sights Unseen Travel Agency recently donated money to her alma mater, Marion Technical College, for naming rights in their downtown location. The donation will allow her business to name one of the conference centers where entrepreneurs will speak to individuals for free to help them improve their business concept. The donated funds will benefit the Marion Technical College Foundation. She and her business also have established a Marion Technical College scholarship called the Chitwood/Kneisley Business Scholarship for second-year business students who have graduated from River Valley High School.
In addition to her work in fundraising, Ms. Chitwood has dedicated time to honoring the life of her late brother, who died from a rare blood disease caused by the chemicals found at River Valley High School. The school had been built on a World War II camp and was later closed due to many cases of leukemia caused by contamination. To raise awareness, she spearheaded a 5K run and a golf tournament to be able to give back to various research foundations.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Chitwood aspires to be more accessible to her clients in a traditional business establishment, such as a brick-and-mortar location. In addition, she hopes to hire more personnel as the company continues to thrive, with a goal to double their sales by next year.