The Monday Minute is a weekly feature in PAX that highlights the movers, shakers, leaders and rule breakers in Canada's travel advisor community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email email@example.com!
Name: Carolyn Kremer
Business: Direct Travel
Where do you live? In a small hamlet near Canadian Forces Base Borden (between Alliston and Angus, Ontario)
How long have you been a travel advisor? I just celebrated 25years this month with this company.
What is your specialty?
I have a number of areas I specialize in (but I sell everything). I specialize in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific to name a few. I primarily sell custom itineraries, but also sell many cruises, all-inclusive holidays and tours. I am a Virtuoso Advisor, so luxury is my niche, but I work with all budgets.
What is your current state of mind?
Three words…I am blessed! I work in a job that I love. We have been through some rough times, but the future of travel is looking bright. I have wonderful clientele who continually show their support and I truly take great joy in planning their vacations.
What inspired you to become a travel advisor?
I think having come from a military family, with moving around, and hearing of the various places my family had lived (before I came along) gave me the desire to want to travel and see what was out there.
What’s the first trip you ever took?
The first trip I recall planning for myself was to Europe in my teens. I had taken small driving trips with family, but Europe was my first ‘adventure.’ I travelled to Germany, England, France and the Netherlands. I was hooked!
What travel trends are you seeing these days?
I am finding that many are now wanting to tick off items on their bucket list. After COVID, there has been a huge increase in those dream vacation inquiries, such as African safaris, Australia and New Zealand. Most are taking longer trips and are willing to pay for an upgraded experience. I have seen a huge increase in inquiries for Italy and Greece this year. Cruising is still hugely popular. I am also finding that many do not want to be part of a large group tour and would rather prefer private or small group touring options.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do business?
Our company has always been a huge proponent of insurance, but this is now, more than ever, being strongly advised to clients. As I tell my clients: ‘No one books their vacation with the intent of cancelling it.’ COVID has taught us all that you just don’t know what will happen, and insurance is peace of mind. For me, some changes were more personal. I re-realized my true value as an advisor, and I think I work with much more confidence with my knowledge, experience and expertise.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of?
I have many that I am proud of. Some that stand out for me: gorilla trekking in Rwanda, a culinary highlights tour of Australia and New Zealand, wine and wildlife in South Africa. There are so many I am very proud of.
What’s the most memorable trip you ever took?
This is another difficult choice. I have so many memorable trips, but here’s the ones that come to mind first. Tahiti and Bora Bora. It is an absolutely stunning destination and I felt so relaxed and in awe of its beauty. Peru. What an experience! The culture, the history, the landscapes are fabulous! I have been to Australia several times and it is always a favourite for me. I love taking in the Indigenous experiences in particular.
Where do you see your business and career one year from now?
I am optimistic that my business will return to pre-COVID sales. I hope to continue to grow my business and client base and stay connected, informed and relevant. Last year, I was awarded Best Travel Agent in South Simcoe (where I live), so I aim to meet that goal every year now.
What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry?
Oh, this is a tough one. I think the most frustrating thing for me is airfares/airline rules/schedule changes. So, if there was some way I could change that for the better, I would.
What’s the secret to being successful in this business?
I think this really varies from person to person. But I think it’s very important to stay informed and up to date on what is happening in travel, take those trips to learn all you can about a destination, find a niche and promote it.
What is your motto?
I don’t know if I have a motto, but what comes to mind is: “The only difference between try and triumph is a little bit of umph.” So I guess I could say my motto is don’t give up.
What is your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?
Stay informed, take those training courses, but mostly love what you do. If you love what you do, it will show in all your work.
Where are you travelling next?
No major trips planned right now, but I will be heading to Vegas in August for Virtuoso Travel Week. This will give me opportunity to re-connect and meet with travel suppliers across the globe.