with Sandy Willett Of Vision Travel, Waterloo, ON

Open Jaw

This advisor has had travel in her blood since growing up near one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.

Where were you born? In Niagara Falls, Ont. It was great to grow up there: we got to go across the river to shop and to go to concerts in Niagara Falls NY. It also meant that we had no trouble getting summer jobs, it was such a tourist town.  

What was your first job? In a library, in high school, shelving books. It was a decent little job for me after school. 

How long have you been in the business? 43 years. My first job in travel was at Sunrise Tours in Toronto, which did ITC packages to Mexico. Back in the days of telex machines!

Tell me about your first airplane ride. I was in high school and went to England with my Grandma on a family visit. So exciting! My relatives had such exotic accents!

How has the business changed since you got into it? The automation for sure. We used to handwrite tickets and had to memorize fares. Imagine!  When Reservec machines came in we were afraid of them, then when email arrived we were all terrified. But…when it comes down to it, you still get on a plane. You still fly to your destination.

Do you have a specialty? Cruises. And Sandals – our branch has won awards from them because we sell them so much. We are very proud of that. 

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I love what I’m doing. I wake up every day and can’t wait to get to work.

What was your best FAM? A Paul Gauguin cruise in Tahiti. It was amazing

Who do you most admire in the industry? Bruce Poon Tip of G Adventures is one, for sure. And anyone who has been in the business for 30 or 40 years.

What drives you crazy? People who shop around or who take the info and book online.   We get a lot of walk-in business here and see that a lot. 

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? Check the view, check the bathroom. Wonder if there is something I could have been upgraded to!  (laughs)

Do you have any time management strategies? I try to get my inquiries done before I move onto the next client. Try to get any unpleasant stuff out of the way

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Try to get to know them and remember stuff about their families so I can say “How’s that grandson?” And give them service that I would expect if I were going somewhere.  Attentive and detailed.    

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? I could go back to Tahiti and stay there. For sure.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I always thought I would have been a good teacher, the younger grades. But travel has intrigued me since I was little!

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.




Comments

Ann Peltz - January 24, 2019 @ 12:12
Excellent interview Sandy! You are such a wealth of knowledge and always have been so helpful and supportive.
Kathy Kean - January 24, 2019 @ 10:06
Great interview Sandy. Can't believe we both started back in those old days (33 yrs ago now) of handwritten tickets and Reservac machines...how thing have changed.
Teresa Villanueva - January 24, 2019 @ 09:30
You are such an amazing lady Sandy - have always loved working with you - always so pleasant
Anita Paton - January 22, 2019 @ 21:22
Great article Sandy!! And to think you were one of my first travel mentors back in my co-op days and that had to have been 28 years ago. Lol. Wow!

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