Biting Questions with Syndi Prokopich, Charleswood Travel, Winnipeg

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Winnipeg. And the origin of my name? My real name was Cindy but when I was 13 I decided I wanted something unusual and unique so I changed the spelling.

What was your first job? Working in my Dad’s commercial roofing business where I cleaned the office and eventually did some office duties.

How long have you been in the business? Only 3 years. For many years I operated a landscaping and irrigation business in the Okanagan.

What was your most memorable airplane ride? I was terrified of flying all my young adult life, but had the luck to meet a retired BA pilot who explained to me the whole process (take off, landing, all the sounds and so on) so during my 1 st flight overseas from BC to Scotland I remembered everything he told me.

How has the business changed since you got into it?   Social media and making yourself top of mind and creating awareness. I figure it’s 50% about marketing yourself and 50% doing the actual work.

Do you have a specialty? Yes, FITs – anywhere. Europe, South Africa, Egypt, the Med. My mission is to custom craft authentic vacations. People are overwhelmed by the information on the internet and need someone to sift through it all for them. Time is a commodity that people don’t have these days.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? Doing what I’m doing! Being a designer of people’s travel. 

What drives you crazy? When my expectations – requests, etc – aren’t met by suppliers.

What was your biggest individual sale? A three week tour of Italy - €13,000.

What’s the 1 st thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I have a look at the set up and amenities... from the point of view if I could sell it.

Do you have any time management strategies? I try and do my hardest things in the morning, including my immediate or short to do list and my marketing (Facebook, Linked In).

How do you cope with jetlag? I just try to adjust and go with the flow. If I can’t sleep I’ll read until I fall asleep. Mostly, I just plough through it but don’t plan anything that will take a lot of effort or focus.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? “I can’t wait to start working with you!”

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I give them a good experience! And I keep in contact with them with my monthly e-zine and reminders of things I know they’re interested in. When they return, I tell them I want to hear everything - the good the bad and the ugly about their trip.  

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? “ Be yourself. Be who you are because ultimately it will come out anyway.”

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? It changes from time to time because I get so engrossed in every trip. Europe, probably Italy. Or Mexico!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Travelling!

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