with Amanda Rauh, Travel By Amanda, Nanaimo, BC

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Winnipeg, Man.   

What was your first job? Being the Mouse at Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, I was Chuck!   

How long have you been in the business? Since 1998. I had studied PhysEd and Geography at university, but realized that I had a passion for travel and decided I should go that route. I went to travel college in Victoria and was hired as soon as I finished. Last year I joined TAND and now have four agents who work under me.  

Tell me about your first airplane ride.  I was 13 and had saved all my babysitting money to fly to New Brunswick to visit my grandparents.

How has the business changed since you got into it? When I started we were still hand-writing tickets and I remember agents saying how much they hated e-tickets. It seems to me we’ve gone from one-on-one consultations at your desk to “Can you beat the internet?” to now when we are valued again, it’s very much relationship based and price is not the full concern. I’ve enjoyed being valuable to people again.  

Do you have a specialty? While I do have luxury travel clients,I do a lot of family and multi-generational travel – you know, the grandparents spending the money on the family now rather than leaving it to them in their will! All of my business is from Facebook and referrals.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be?  I’d really have enjoyed being a BDM but my kids were too little. Maybe one day!

What was your best fam? After you’ve done the 30-hotels-in-a-week kind of fam you get a bit picky! I’ll never forget travelling with Aloha Airlines for $599 on a do it yourself fam to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.  Incredible.

Who do you most admire in the industry? I truly admire BDMs who work well with us and care about the travel agent community. Two who come to mind are Kristin Erz of TravelBrands and Freddie Marsh with Playa Resorts, but there are lots more.

What drives you crazy?  I’m only allowed one thing? ( laughs) Airline/supplier failure.  We agents work so hard to, for example upsell, and then the client finds out at check-in that the  hotel has oversold that room category.  Or when an airline cancels a route completely.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I make my family stand in the hallway and I take a picture of the room!

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I ask for passport details up front so they already know I’m serious.  And because almost all of my business is repeat or referral they’re pre-sold.

Do you have any time management strategies? I learned from my Dad that you always do the worst thing first, and the rest of your day only gets easier. And each night I do a to do list for the following day.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal?  I don’t offer any gimmicks.  I just offer me.  I have a little newsletter full of personal details about my life so they know I’m a human, not just someone pressing buttons on a computer. It’s all about keeping the relationship.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? As much of Europe as possible.  I love the architecture, the food, the people, the history.  I love that you can get on a train and in an hour be in another country.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Wow! I think I would be a business owner, something crafty such as a store with a space for crafters to do their work.

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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