with Eve Wasilewski of Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Toronto

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Montreal.    

What was your first job? I was a flight attendant with Braniff, based in Kansas. My dad, who worked for Air Canada, got me the job. But it didn’t last long, as they found out I didn’t actually have a green card!

How long have you been in the business? The Braniff job would have been in the ‘70s.

How has the business changed since you got into it?  (laughs) Remember those enormous books? The OAGs and OHRGs? It was an art just to know how to read them!

Do you have a specialty? I love selling the Orient: Cambodia, Japan, China, and especially Indonesia.    

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? What I’m doing now. I like being face-to-face with the client. I’ve worked in many sectors – cars, trains, airlines – everything except  hotels.

What was your best fam? Every one is different. South Africa … Dubai … and a two week one to Indonesia was a real eye opener. I’ll never forget going to the orangutan orphanage.

Who do you most admire in the industry? Not a particular person, maybe, but our BDMs. We love the ones who go above and beyond to help us, the ones who actually come into the agency.

What drives you crazy? Paperwork! Selling is great, but there’s all that follow-up.    

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? Wipe the light switches with Lysol Wipes.

Do you have any time management strategies? Always the to-do lists!

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I’m always in touch, wishing them bon voyage and welcome home. I pick their brains all the time and know their likes and dislikes. Do you know, I have an excellent client I’ve been working with for 15 years and I have yet to meet him!  

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? A nice deserted beach where you can put your feet up and no one can get in touch with you. Like one of the Out Islands in the Bahamas.  Either that or Italy or the south of France.

What was your largest individual sale? It was the 15th of December a few years ago. A gentleman who had recently lost his wife to cancer decided to take his family on an African safari over Christmas. I never thought I’d get the space, but I did. It cost $175,000.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I’m doing this because it’s what I like to do.  But if I had to choose, I’d like to try the hotel side of things, perhaps with Fairmont.

If you or someone you know who is a front line travel agent in Canada would like to be featured in Biting Questions, please contact us.

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