Wednesday,  August 12, 2020  4:44 am

Travel with Tannis: How one travel advisor found new purpose in podcasting


Travel with Tannis: How one travel advisor found new purpose in podcasting
Calgary-based travel advisor Tannis Dyrland hosts Travel With Tannis, a podcast about life, travel and running a business. (Supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Have you ever misplaced a parent while travelling? Tannis Dyrland has.

The Calgary-based travel advisor was travelling with her Dad on a cruise through Greece that also included a stop in Kusadasi, a resort town off of Turkey's Aegean coast.

Dyrland organized the trip to “celebrate life” as her father, then 70 at the time, had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  

It was a father-daughter trip for the books. After all, being well into her 40s, Dyrland had not spent three consecutive days with her father in 25 years, and being a travel advisor, this was her chance to show Dad what she was made of.

So there they were in Kusadasi, where their ship had docked for the day, and together, the duo set off into town to go shopping in one of the local markets. Dad was on a mission to find a specific brand of watch, and not wanting to hold him back, Dyrland let her father go off, on his own, to let him do his thing.

Thirty minutes later and Dyrland's father was suddenly nowhere to be seen.

Did he get lost? Was he in the back of a truck with a group of Turkish merchants perusing designer watches?

Soon, the panic of losing her father set in, and for the next hour-and-half, Dyrland searched that market high and low for her missing Dad. She asked around. She had pictures of him. No one had seen him.

He was just…gone. Where on earth was he?

Stressed, Dyrland returned to her ship, still fatherless, and overcome with emotion over the day’s twisted turn of events.

How does this travel tale about a daughter’s disappearing Dad in Turkey end?

Well, you’ll just have to tune in and find out.

It’s this story, and more, Dyrland tells in her own podcast in which she shares her most memorable adventures from around the globe, the lessons learned from those trips, and a few trade secrets of her own.

“My passport is my therapy," says travel advisor Tannis Dyrland. (Supplied)

“Travel with Tannis” – the podcast’s title literally rolls off the tongue – debuted in February with new episodes premiering every Tuesday on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.

“People love talking travel,” says Dyrland, whose company, an affiliate of The Travel Agent Next Door, shares the same name as her show. “The idea was to provide insight on travel – the good, the bad and the ugly – and talk from experience.”

With nearly 60 visited countries under her belt, combined with 13 years of running her own multi-million dollar travel agency, Dyrland injects the perfect dose of storytelling, philosophy and professional expertise into each articulated episode.

The segments, each running roughly 12 to 15 minutes, feature stories from Dyrland’s mental travelogue, like the aforementioned “My Dad Left Me In Turkey” story, while others focus on personal growth (such as business tips for “Mompreneurs”) and educating the masses about the trade (one episode is flat out titled “Why You Need A Travel Agent”).

“I sit down, close my eyes, and talk from the heart,” says Dyrland, describing the recording process. (Tannis Dyrland)

Sometimes she interviews guests and none of the episodes are scripted, making for an authentic listening experience.

“I sit down, close my eyes, and talk from the heart,” says Dyrland, describing the process of recording her podcast. “There’s been moments where I go back to stories and my eyes fill with tears. Or I’ll start laughing. It takes me right back.”

Though some episodes put her in a vulnerable spot – in “Celebrating Survival And Hiking the Inca Trail,” for instance, Dyrland recounts her journey in surviving thyroid cancer – the opportunity to share experiences on a public platform has been “freeing,” she says.

“It’s been a cathartic experience,” says Dyrland, who originally went to school for psychology and is, actually, a registered psychologist. “My passport is my therapy. Travel is such a healthy way for me to take care of my mental state. I’ve experienced different things, I want to share it.”

Building an audience  

The idea of starting a podcast was born out of Dyrland’s desire to step outside of her comfort zone.

“Every year in November I re-do my business plan for the next year,” she says. “I needed to try something new.”

After getting some pointers from a friend who worked at Corus Entertainment, Dyrland was introduced to a team of producers, who signed her to a 12-episode contract.

In the beginning, Dyrland says she would have been happy if 25 people or more tuned in. “Within a day, I had over 150 [listeners],” she says.

Recording a podcast has been "freeing," says travel advisor Tannis Dyrland. (Supplied)

Now, almost three months and a dozen episodes later, Dyrland’s show reaches upwards of 600 listeners (and counting).

Dyrland’s growing audience has done wonders for her Instagram account, which, like podcasting, is also new territory for her, she says.

“I’m getting over 1,200 interactions per week on posts,” she says of her ‘gram, @travelwithtannis. “Before [the podcast], I was getting five to ten.”

These newfound levels of engagement have led to brand partnerships, Dyrland says, which has resulted in new sources of income.

But if podcasting has achieved anything for this travel entrepreneur, it’s awarded her the opportunity to connect with audiences (and potential customers) in ways she’s never experienced before.

“It’s been a trip,” she says. “With travel agents, people want to know who they’re dealing with. They know me, my kids, my husband… I have incredible interactions. The feedback has been incredible.”

Dyrland says she’s already committed to recording 12 more episodes of Travel With Tannis this summer and has future plans to start a YouTube channel.

Given the current travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, you could say Dyrland is one travel agent who is weathering the coronavirus storm, one podcast at a time.

“I still love the travel industry,” says Dyrland. “I love curating custom travel and this is a beautiful extension of that.”

For more info on Travel With Tannis, visit travelwithtannis.com.


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