Back in 1978, Ronny Tereshyn’s sister was working as a stewardess. Because of her job, she got to fly all over the world— "and I got nothing," Ronny joked.
At the time, Ronny’s family owned two motels on Kingston Road, one which had a restaurant attached to it. After his grandfather suffered a heart attack, the restaurant was closed, and an empty space remained.
“My uncle asked me, ‘do you want to put something in there?’ and I said sure, and he goes ‘well then put something in there that’s low-key’, so I picked up the Yellow Pages,” Ron recalls. “I started at the A and I worked my way all the way through. As soon as I got to the word travel, I knew I was going to open a travel agency.”
That was 1978.
Now, Ron and his wife, Mary, own and operate 510 Travel, a bricks and mortar agency that still sits on Kingston Rd. at the site of the original family business.
The Travel Agent Hotline
Long before email marketing campaigns advertised the best travel deals wholesalers were offering, the radio was the place to tune into.
According to Ron, back then, vacationers eager for the best deals belonged to an exclusive “Last Minute Club” that required those who wanted the scoop to pay a membership fee of $40 a year. This granted access to a secret telephone line that played tape recordings of the day’s deals.
“Once I found out about what was going on, I said ‘we don’t need sell a membership, let’s just make the recordings and open up the phone lines,’” Ron said.
For the last 30 years, Ron has been waking up around 5 a.m. to sift through current travel offerings, cut through the noise, and assemble only the best vacation deals on the market for Canadian agents to turn around and sell to their customers, through an innovative platform called The Travel Agent Hotline.
Back in the day, Ron would create cassette tapes and list off the daily deals.
But now, thanks to technology, The Travel Agent Hotline has gotten quite the boost, and the Tereshyn's are looking to expand by incorporating a new division unique to the business.
The Video Travel Hotline
Recently, the Tereshyn’s launched The Video Travel Hotline, a video series that essentially delivers the same information as The Travel Agent Hotline set out to do 30 years ago, but now Ronny is walking his subscribers through each deal, advocating the pros and cons of each resort or offer, allowing for further understanding through visual engagement.
In this day and age, it’s a daunting task which means sifting through hundreds of tour operators and suppliers and comparing each deal carefully, right down to the fine print. Still, it’s something he is enthusiastic about, and truly enjoys doing—even if he’s out exploring the globe.
Creating The Video Travel Hotline on Feb. 1 was a move the Tereshyn's hope will attract home-based agents, as the video series is available to watch from anywhere.
“I’m a travelling man,” Ron laughs, “I’ll still run The Travel Hotline from a resort, from a cruise ship, really anywhere! Every single day is a training session for our travel agents, because I’m essentially doing the homework. They want to be prepared for what’s out there so that they can tell consumers about a good deal.”
Technology may have given The Travel Agent Hotline a boost, but for the last 30 years, Ronny’s days have begun much the same.
The first step is to examine all of the deals for the day. If he comes across a hotel, or resort property he hasn’t personally experienced and can't therefore vouch for, he’ll run a quick analysis via TripAdvisor or Oyster, carefully reading traveller reviews to see what others are saying, before he’ll even consider promoting it to the agent community and the public at large.
Then, he puts together the video, and as that’s processing, he completes the audio component. The final product is uploaded to Vimeo, where travel agents can tune in and watch, or share to social media.
“With all of this new technology, I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Ronny laughs. “There’s nothing I can’t do. Travel is all about trying to share your experience with people. When you take a trip and come back, so much of that content sits in your phone. I’m doing something about that with these webinars, allowing the agents to do everything but smell and taste these trips, creating a visual kind of tour for those who might not be able to see it themselves.”
Making (and keeping) travel fun
At the end of the day, Ron says he launched the original Travel Hotline and now The Video Travel Hotline for one reason.
“People want a five-star holiday at a two-star price,” Ronny explains. “When it really comes down to it and things are full, people will still pay between $2,000 and $5,000 per person to take an all-inclusive vacation for a week. This is why I make a list everyday; there’s just so much choice out there today, and hopefully I can help take some of the stress out of that.”
510 Travel currently employs 25 travel agents and is a member of Ensemble Travel’s Top 25 Elite Division.
And, the invite is open to join the team.
“Right now we’re looking for some new agents to come and join us, and we’re not charging any fees,” Mary said.
From on-the-job training to one-on-one support from full-time office staff, Mary and Ronny are excited at the prospect of having more agents join the team at Kingston Rd.
And for those who are hesitant? Ron has this advice to offer.
“Come on over and try us, and if it’s not for you, at least you’re not paying any money to be here,” he said. “We’re not here to charge fees, we’re here to travel and have fun along the way.”
For more information on 510 Travel, click here.
To watch this morning’s deals, watch today’s video on The Video Travel Hotline.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!