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: Lesley Paull
Business: Paull Travel Ltd.
Where do you live? Edmonton, AB
How long have you been a travel advisor?
Some 43 years, I have owned Paull Travel for 36 years.
What is your specialty?
I have pretty much sold everything over the years, but in my perfect world right now, I sell high-end luxury travel, cruise and land.
What inspired you to become a travel advisor?
My mother told me to get a job, so I became a receptionist at a travel agency. It seemed like a good temporary plan at the age of 18 before university. But I am still here, never made it to university, and I am still loving the job on (most) days.
What’s the first trip you ever took?
London, England to visit grandparents every couple of years starting at a young age. The flight stopped in Gander or Greenland to refuel. Now those were the old days.
What is your current state of mind?
Luckily after COVID, I still have a mind. I’m certainly much better than I was in 2020 or 2021. Those were dark days, but we stayed open with full staff and survived. I am proud of that. The sun is shining and I am very optimistic about the future. I think people who didn’t think they needed a travel agent before now know that they do. Which makes the job even more fun!
What are you most proud of?
Growing our office from one person to a fantastic team of 16. At least half have been here for well over 20 years.
I am proud to see “kids“ start and grow to be fantastic agents before my eyes and watch those who have been here for years always take care of the younger members when they need help or guidance – business or personal.
What travel trends are you seeing these days?
There will always be the “fly and flop” vacations, but we are seeing more people look for something different. Many are looking for more adventurous, longer trips, but also luxury small ship/expedition cruises to unique destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic and the Galapagos Islands. And places like Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana...). It seems that after two years of not leaving the house, people are dreaming about what they would do “if”…and now they’re actually doing it instead of just dreaming it. It’s exciting! Also, with corporate travel, clients are really travelling as they truly value face-to-face time with suppliers.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do business?
It has made us all understand the value we have as agents, which has made it much easier to charge higher service fees. We know we are worth it – and have proved that. We value ourselves more and realize we don’t want to work under stress constantly. Personal time is valuable. Zoom and Teams are also always now part of our life.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of?
That is a very tough question. There have been so many great trips (Peru, Asia, Antarctica, Myanmar…) but the most memorable (difficult to plan) was a group of seven ladies wanting to travel through India for 14 days. They wanted a very high-end experience – to the point of requesting restaurant reservations with tables facing specific directions. It was one of those files you never forget. They came back happy and I’m very proud of that. Some of their requests were almost impossible. It’s a memory!
Where do you see your business one year from now?
I see our revenue at 35 per cent more than 2019. That is our achievable goal, in addition to continuing to be strongly independent and maintaining a brick and mortar location.
What are your future goals?
To continue with a happy office and find some more “family” members that like a team environment (and like wine on Fridays). There’s nothing more important than having the right people on the bus as the saying goes.
What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry?
It is far more complicated than it needs to be. It needs to be streamlined to be less confusing for everyone.
What’s your motto?
“To go above and beyond” has been our slogan since we started in 1986.
What’s your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?
There are many opportunities right now in travel, so it’s the best time to find the job that best suits you. Do you like to work at home independently? Do you like to hand-hold selling vacations (I mean that in a nice way). A fast-paced corporate or a team environment? Everyone has different strengths and dreams. Be sure you find the right place and make sure it feels right. If you do, it can be a fantastic career.
Where are you travelling next?
A Regent Seven Seas cruise from Bangkok to Tokyo with friends in February.