This TPI pro manages a very successful career along with raising four girls. And clearly loves every moment of it!
Where were you born? In Saskatoon.
What was your first job? Going door to door with a bucket, knocking on doors and washing windows. I was about 14.
So you were quite the young entrepreneur! Yes – when I was in grade 12 I got a summer lease on a mini-golf course for $3,000 and ran it myself. I netted $16,000 that summer.
How long have you been in the business? Seven years – before then I was in finance and hated it. I took a break to be with my girls (who are now 16, 14, 10 and 8) when they were little and after that came into travel.
Why travel? I loved researching trips for my friends and then referring them to a travel agent…then I was like “Why am I doing this?” I jumped in blindly with both feet but luckily I chose TPI which I really like.
Tell me about your first airplane ride. My husband has his private pilot’s licence and he took me up a couple of times when we were dating. That was frightening!
How has the business changed since you got into it?It has become a lot more competitive. Before, the internet was for research, and agents were for booking. A lot more people are booking online now because it gives them confidence and a thrill to think they can be “travel agents.” They think they are in control that way. Also, tour operator commission has dropped.
Do you have a specialty? I do mostly all-inclusives. But as I travel more I am getting more confident and trying to branch out into more FITs and specialties.
If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I’ve thought about that a lot but think being a travel agent is just right for me for now.
What was your best fam trip? I really enjoyed a TravelBrands fam to Maui. Also a Thailand fam which was amazing.
Who do you most admire in the industry? That’s a good question! I would say (TPI CEO) Zeina Gedeon. She has that personality that just gets stuff done and always, always follows through.
What drives you crazy? People who waste my time. Also, sometimes we are stuck in the middle. We are blamed by the supplier, the airline, the client for stuff that’s beyond our control.
Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? No, but I always follow up.
Do you have any time management strategies? I’m incredibly organized. From the moment my kids leave for school until they come home I’m busy. I prioritize my time: bookings, then quotes, then admin. My desk is very organized and I turn off all notifications on my phone as they are distracting.
What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I package up tour docs with some tips and tricks about the destination, along with a security bag for liquids and a Tim Horton’s Gift Card with a little note saying “Have a snack at the airport on me!” And I send other gift cards to clients when they give me a referral. Clients love that.
Also, my response times are very, very fast. People really remark on that – “Wow we just emailed you an hour ago – we’ve been waiting 3 days for a response from that other travel agent.” I hear that a lot. People love to know that you are on it.
If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Hoo boy….probably Australia or New Zealand as I’ve never been there.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I don’t know.This is really the only job I can see myself in. This is exactly what I want to do. It’s my passion – I love helping people and booking their trips. It’s fulfilling!
Ethel Bast- February 5, 2019 @ 10:38
My family can attest to Kelly's fast response time. Traveling to a foreign destination can be very stressful so knowing Kelly is there to answer any questions or concerns helps to alleviate the stress.