Cathy Price, Maritime Travel, Sydney

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, home to the famous national historic park.

What was your 1st job? I put myself through university working at Louisbourg Fortress, first as an 18th century waitress and later in the archaeology department there.

How long have you been in the business? For 20 years. In 1994 my mother-in-law and I booked a 15 day Britain and Ireland tour and I got the travel bug! I’ve always been with Maritime Travel: 2 years in Halifax and 18 now here in Sydney.

Tell me about your first airplane ride. I was 12 and I flew to Halifax alone to visit my cousins. I remember being nervous – not about flying, but about who would meet me off the plane!

How has the business changed since you got into it? Of course 9/11 took away business for a couple of months. And the online world encouraging people to “be their own travel agent”.  But I find it has gone full circle: my clients who tried online are all back, they don’t want to waste hours of their precious time researching.

Do you have a specialty? Not exactly – though my clientele is older now so I find I do a lot of southern all-inclusives, “bigger” trips, river cruising.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? The job I’m in right now is in the most rewarding profession. I’m a partner in my company, I do very well and I have really gotten to know my clients on a personal basis. 

What was your best FAM? An Israel FAM with Collette. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, The Dead Sea… it made me understand why people have faith.  A great, great trip.

What drives you crazy? When we do a lot of work for clients and they say they booked with someone else or they booked it online.  hey don’t understand the value of our job. Luckily that doesn’t happen often in this office.

What was your biggest individual sale? I’ve had a few, but a really great one was an ocean expedition for 6 clients, a very unusual itinerary sailing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence right from Louisbourg. Not luxury but a real learning experience. It cost over $40,000 US for the 6 of them... and no airfare necessary.  Not too often you can drive to your cruise ship! 

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? No, but I always ask for the sale... I never let anyone walk out the door without saying, “Are you ready to book?” If you don’t ask for the sale you won’t get it. And I always follow up with a phone call.

Do you have any time management strategies? I do still make file folders and find that works for me even if it’s old fashioned. Also, I try to finish something when I start it.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Constant contact through e-mail or phone; we send birthday cards to our top 20% and do appreciation events and dinners for them. Every year we do something special for them. I’ve even arranged blue M&Ms with the Maritime Travel logo on them!

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? I’d have to start in London – I love the shows, the waterfront, the pubs and the atmosphere. Then  I’d go river cruising!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I’d love to own my own Bed’n’Breakfast… with wine tastings!

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