Biting Questions with Teague Neal, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Toronto.

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Toronto.

You have such an interesting name! Can you tell us a little about it? It’s actually pronounced Taje and means “by the water” in an old Gaelic language. Very appropriate!

What was your first ever job? I helped with my dad’s non-profit charity which integrated special needs kids’ programs into mainstream camps and programs. I enjoyed it, for sure.    

How long have you been in the business? Since 2008. I was interested in travel for a long time and enrolled in Travel & Tourism program at Humber College here in Toronto. I’ve now been to 37 countries!

Tell me about your first airplane ride. It was to Vancouver. By a huge coincidence, we knew one of the flight attendants and she let us into the cockpit. Those were the days!

How has the business changed since you got into it?  I think we’ve had to become more detail-oriented, especially with the cruises where there are so many factors, promotions and special offers.  Consumers love them but they can be a little confusing and distracting.

Do you have a specialty? We do sell everything but focus on cruises. I sell lots of Caribbean and Europe but I see Canadians are getting more exotic.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I’m pretty happy as an agent. Though it might be fun to work on board a ship! Capturing future business, maybe.

What was your best fam? I went to Greece with Transat in 2014, four nights on a small ship and a few days in Athens.  We also saw their all-inclusive resort outside Athens.  A great place to base yourself and explore a bit.  Still today it’s an excellent deal.

Who do you most admire in the industry? Andy Stuart from Norwegian and Brenda Yeomans from Celebrity. Both do an excellent job and I think have great personalities.

What drives you crazy?  Well...difficult clients.  But you just have to stay calm and not say too much!

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room or ship’s cabin? Check it out and film a video!

Do you have any time management strategies? I definitely can tell from the inquiry how likely they are to book and can gauge how much time to spend with them.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I always call and email to welcome them back and get feedback. Your experience really shows, and they sense the quality.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Japan is my favourite country in the world. I’ve loved it ever since I did a student exchange and stayed with a guy who became my best friend. I’ve been maybe seven times now! It’s incredible to see 3,000-year-old temples and all the latest technology at the Panasonic building. I think the Japanese have a great customer service attitude, even from elevator attendants.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I would be in culinary…but you get to talk about food in this job and the hours are definitely better!

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

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