Biting Questions with Adam Short, Maritime Travel, Belleville

Open Jaw

Where were you born? Here in Belleville.

What was your 1st job? Working throughout the Eastern States for an engineering company which specializes in drilling soil samples.

When did you become a travel agent? When I was 23 I crashed my motorbike and crushed my neck in an accident near Baltimore. I was hospitalized for a year. A month after getting out I went on a cruise with my girlfriend (now my wife). To say things didn’t work out well is an understatement! The airline lost my wheelchair for a few hours. I got a flat tire on the cruise ship. There were a lot of things that I wasn’t prepared for either. And I concluded that there had to be a better way.

So what did you do? I went to travel and tourism college and I’ve been an agent now for 7 years. I use a wheelchair – and my new companion dog Gus – because I have no sense of feeling from the chest down. But I can type and use my mouse (which I drop a lot!) and I’m always discovering new ways of doing things. In the end, I get the job done.

Do you have a specialty? I try to help anyone with mobility impairment. It’s about 25% of my business now. And not just people who use a wheelchair: boomers are aging and some are getting frail. I have a few MS clients - it’s nice if they have a scooter waiting for them… another recent client uses a breathing apparatus. I don’t want to limit my clientele to people who use a wheelchair.

Are your clients all local? Most are, but I’m seeing more clients from across Ontario and have had queries from Michigan and Florida. One of my most interesting clients, who lives in Kingston (Ont.) had a Bucket List of seeing all Seven Wonders of the World. He’d just visited his 1st, Machu Picchu, and went to the coast in Peru and was swimming in the ocean when he was hit by a rogue wave and paralyzed. But we are working together to keep that Bucket List going:  I just sent him to Chichen Itza. 2 down, 5 to go!

Are some countries better than others for travellers who have mobility issues?  Canada’s pretty good and getting better. Since I’ve been in the industry I’ve seen Jamaica and the DR have come a long way. Airport transfers used to be an issue for example, but now they have accessible transfers. I’ve heard that transportation is good in Europe but the major sites are historical so getting to them can be a problem.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? An agent’s pretty good because they can help people. I love when people come in who don’t think they can travel and we just figure out ways to get them where they want to be. I think I’ll stick with being an agent! 

What was your best FAM? I don’t do a lot of FAMs because some modes of transport such as coaches and river cruises don’t work for me. But I do ocean cruise FAMs. I really enjoyed a Carnival seminar-at-sea – and the inaugural of Oasis of the Seas was awesome!

What drives you crazy? People who say I can get it cheaper. Or think they can do it better than us because they have access to the internet.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale?  “Is there something you want to see or do? Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Do you have any time management strategies? Ask my manager! (laughs) My task list helps.

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? Costa Rica – the wildlife, volancoes, mountains, monkeys, monkeys, monkeys! I fell in love with it and went surfing in the ocean there at a special school for people who use wheelchairs.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I don’t know! Helping people out one way or another. And trying to see as much of the world as I can!

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





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