With Arlene Gibbons of TAND in Mount Pearl, Nfld.

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In a small fishing town called Chance Cove here in Newfoundland – population about 300. But technically in Come By Chance (population about 500) since that was where the hospital is.

What was your first job? Working at Tim Hortons. Of course I love the donuts!

How long have you been in the business? Since 1988, going on 29 years! I worked at Conquest as a res agent, then Sears Travel for most of my life and now with TAND coming up three years.

Tell me about your first airplane ride. When I was about 15 or 16 from St. John’s Toronto for the summer to stay with my sister and find work. I always knew travel was in my blood!

How has the business changed since you got into it? When I worked at Conquest we were computerized but seat availability was on a white board… that would never happen now! Agents did everything by phone. I remember when I was an agent, we might have Sunquest res on the phone for two hours passing the phone from agent to agent to make bookings. We didn’t dare hang up as you could be on hold with them for a few hours. But the time wasn’t wasted, we’d catch up on our typing when when we were on hold.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I like what I’m doing. I’m my own boss now and I like to work with my clients.

What was your best fam? About 5 or 6 years ago I went to Greece. Santorini had been on my bucket list a long time. We arrived at sunset and it was breathtaking!

What drives you crazy? Like a lot of agents, clients who want us to do all the research and then you find out they booked it directly. That happens all the time. A lot of people hide behind email too. It’s hard to get a feel for them – much better in person or even on the phone.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? Look in the corners and in the washroom. Maybe under the bed!

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I just tell people I’m here for them before, during and after the trip. I don’t like to pressure anyone. It’s not just about closing the sale.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I keep in touch with them, while they’re away they’re welcome to contact me. For me, being my own boss, I find that with my loyal customers I get a lot of referrals. We have a referral program and give them a credit off their next booking.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Tahiti, if I could afford it! It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go and I think it’d be awesome.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I’d be a vet. I love animals.

If you or someone you know who is a front line travel agent in Canada would like to be featured in Biting Questions, please email martha@openjaw.com





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