Gene Jochen, Nexion, Durham, ON

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In New York City, I’ve been in Canada for about 30 years. My wife is Canadian -- we even met on a cruise! In over 20 years I’ve worked in publishing, food service and HR and when offered a package I needed a new career and decided I really wanted to get into travel sales. I am a life-long traveller.

Why Nexion? I did a lot of research and because of my business background didn’t want bricks and mortar or to start up from scratch. I was very impressed by Nexion and the way they are set up, their affiliations, they are very flexible and we also have a great partnership with Travel Leaders group.

What was your first job? Working in a 24 hour Greek restaurant diner. I even learned to cook!

Tell me about your first airplane ride. When I was 16 our high school band went to Belgium for a music festival, competing against 20 European nations and we won first place! We sure were local heroes back home! I played drums, and still do.

How has the business changed since you got into it? It’s still about technology and people. We still compete with the OTAs.

Do you have a specialty? Group travel and am now taking a luxury specialist program. I’m also into corporate incentives and groups with seminars at sea and on land, for example.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I’d like to be a host agent with sub-agents. But not tomorrow! 

What was your best fam? That would be a toss-up between South Africa and China – both amazing trips. And this month I go to India. I am trying to do as many exotic fams as possible.

Who do you most admire in the industry? Jackie Freeman, president of Nexion and also Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean.

What drives you crazy? Clients you do a lot of research for and then they go elsewhere.   

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? (laughs) Drop my bags and head back out!

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I’m really more “Thank you for your business. I’ll be here for you both before and after your vacation.”

Do you have any time management strategies? I use my calendar a lot and block time for specific tasks. I like that as an independent I have such great flexibility time-wise.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Italy. My mother has Sicilian roots and I have an affinity for the culture, the food, the people, the language.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Just travelling. I love to travel and always have trips to look forward to. When I don’t have something planned I get itchy!

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

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