Biting Questions with Carmen Magro, Klondike Travel Flight Centre Associates, Whitehorse

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In a hospital! (laughs) Actually in Cranbook in the beautiful Rockies. I've lived in Whitehorse for 11 years, coming here for employment, family and the beauty of the country.

How big is Whitehorse? There are 27,000 people and 6 travel agencies! So it's a competitive market here but 2/3 of our population are employed by government so they have the time and the money, including a travel bonus for working north of 60... plus a desire to get out of town.

How long have you been in the business? Part time since 1998 and full time starting 5 years ago. My husband founded the business.

How do people react when they hear you live in Whitehorse? “Why do you live there?" “How cold is it?" “Do you have polar bears and penguins?" Funny, because penguins exist only in the south polar regions.

Do you have a specialty? In our agency we have wedding/luxury, corporate, adventure and custom groups and conferences specialists. You have to be diverse in such a competitive market. We are 3 full time and 2 part time staffers.

What was your best FAM? A med cruise with my Dad – he's Italian background and when we disembarked in Naples there was only 1 taxi left. But the fellow managed to find the home of some of Dad's relatives and we had an amazing time with them. We're still in touch with them – and with the taxi driver!

What travel trends do you see from the Yukon? A lot of adventure seekers. South America is popular, Europe, U.K., cruising hotspots.

What drives you crazy? People who say all they want is “Cheap and hot".

What was your biggest individual sale? $35,000 for a couple on a European river cruise with business class flights.

What's the 1st thing you do when you get into a hotel room? Take pictures and check out the bathroom.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? “How would you like to pay for that?"

Do you have any time management strategies? I'm learning! I think my biggest helpful strategy is concentrating and blocking time, such as saying, “On Friday between 10 and noon I'm going to work on that conference." I'm learning to turn my e-mail off for a couple of hours - but it's hard.

How do you cope with jetlag? Business class (laughs). And taking care of myself.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Really good communication, always offering something new they probably can't book on line. Something different. Anyone can go on line and find “hot and cheap".

What's the best piece of advice you ever received? Listen to your client and don't sell them something you would like. They might not appear to be a luxury client but they might be one nevertheless and you have to listen to them to find that out.

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? A round the world cruise - without a doubt.

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing? Some kind of inbound tourism development. The potential is amazing.

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





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