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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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Name: Jennifer Chambers
Business: Travel Dreams
Where do you live? Parkland County, AB
How long have you been a travel advisor? 1.5 years
What is your specialty? Cruises and all-inclusives
What is your current state of mind? Passionate about life experiences and making memories
What inspired you to become a travel advisor?
My Aunty Shirley Lindahl has been my personal travel advisor for over 20 years. She is incredibly inspiring and always open to my travel requests. I've inspired a lot of the vacations my family has taken and I want to share my knowledge and experiences with everyone so they, too, can be as inspired to see the world as I do.
What’s the first trip you ever took?
The first time I flew on a plane I was 21 years old. I went to Las Vegas for a four-day weekend with my partner and a few friends. That was all it took to catch the "travel bug." The following years I flew somewhere every two months – even just domestic flights around Western Canada.
What travel trends are you seeing these days?
Over the past year, my clients have wanted higher amenity packages and they have been willing to change their travel dates to secure those options. I personally see the higher room categories selling out faster – they're harder to get than run of the house categories. For flights, clients inquire first about first class, elite and club class. With all-inclusives, it's all about luxury, and I have yet to sell a cruise below a balcony stateroom category. Families who once wouldn't travel with their children are now booking multi-generational trips. Family time is so important and parents/grandparents are wanting to show their families what travel is all about. My clients really value the memories they make while travelling. They learn so much along the way.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do business?
Everything is now online and paperless. Clients are getting used to using their electronic documents and the simplicity of just using a passport for checking in for their vacations. I still make time to see clients one on one. However, clients really enjoy conversing via email, text message and the odd phone call. The nice thing about emailing/texting clients is that it is all documented and can be easily referred back to.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of?
I love cruise and the cruise itineraries I prepared for all my clients. One thing I am quite proud of is a recent Swan Hellenic expedition I prepared for my in-laws. They flew to Reykjavik, Iceland, then on to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to board the SH Vega. This Itinerary was a real "ice breaker" trip, travelling to Nunavut and ending in Halifax. An incredible 16 day journey.
What’s the most memorable trip you ever took?
I love an all-inclusive relaxing trip like anyone else. However, My favourite, most memorable trips are (so far) to Europe. The history in every single step you take is literally mind blowing. Coming from a Canada that is 155 years old, it's so fascinating to see history literally unravel in front of you. Seeing architecture that is thousands of years old and imagining how it once was. I find myself at a loss for words when seeing it first hand. I have had the opportunity to see Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Monaco and Greece. Honestly, I can't wait to go back!
Where do you see your business one year from now?
One year from now I hope to double my business, not only in sales, but also in clients as well. I know I will make more great connections with suppliers and vendors as I stay active in training every month. I hope to expand my knowledge and forever learn something new.
What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry?
With the recent influx of travel, the one thing I would recommend is baggage tag checking! It seems after two years of no travelling, to now, everyone wants to travel and every single person needs new luggage. This results in multiple identical suitcases coming down the baggage claim belts. This last month specifically, I have had many clients' luggage picked up by other people. Going on your dream vacation without your luggage is extremely stressful. I have clients having only what they have on to supply them on seven to 14-day trips. Not everything is as accessible in other countries (like undergarments), with restricted time to get to destination.
What’s the secret to being successful in this business?
Participation! Going to travel conventions, creating lasting relationships with suppliers/vendors and fellow advisors. Creating friendships where we can all learn and grow with each other has been a true blessing to me. Last year I was on the fence about attending my first convention. I tell you, the energy and the excitement one gets from a convention is so inspiring. All you want to do is grow! You just can't get that sitting behind your computer. And, of course, travelling! Seeing first hand and being able to relay information is so valuable.
What is your motto?
Honest and true in everything I do! If I don't have an answer, I research. I do a lot of research to makes sure I fully understand what to expect. I am grateful to be apart of a huge network of agents, with the relationships I've made, I can always reach out to others for information if I am stuck after my research.
What is your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?
Step out of your comfort zone, see things from a different point of view. Understand your clients and never stop learning! Connect with tourism boards and suppliers that interest you and learn everything you can about that destination/vacation package. The best part of this career is learning! Meet other agents and don't compete, but learn from each other.
Where are you travelling next?
I Just got off a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise and flew to Dominican Republic, where I currently am calling my office for the week! In March, I have two back-to-back cruises, starting with an Eastern Caribbean Cruise with my family for seven days followed by comprehensive SeaU seminar at sea with TravelBrands with my Aunty Shirley Lindahl for seven days.
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