with Sheryll Donovan of Northstar Travel in Kitchener, ON

Open Jaw

Where were you born? Saint John, NB. I moved to Ontario in 1988. 

What was your first job?At a beachfront canteen on the Bay of Fundy, selling hot dogs, French fries and deep-fried scallops. Believe it or not, I’ve never liked seafood or fish!

How long have you been in the business?Over 36 years. I got into it because when I was a teenager my stepmother told me I should be a flight attendant, but I was worried about becoming a glorified waitress. Westervelt College in London, Ontario was advertising for students, so I went there for a year, went back to New Brunswick and got a job at Kane Travel in Sussex.  

Tell me about your first airplane ride. It was in my father’s Cessna 150 when I was 10.  What a thrill that was!  

How has the business changed since you got into it? A lot. People don’t have respect for travel agents any more.

Do you have a specialty? I sell a lot of packages, trips to Europe, cruises. 

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? What I’m doing. I still love being a travel agent.

What was your best FAM? In 2014, with Travel2 on an Amazing Aussie Adventure. I was able to go to Australia and New Zealand and the lady who took us, Leia Marvin, was over the top enthusiastic and positive. Everything – all the stress - seemed to fall off me when I went on that trip.

What drives you crazy? Zero commission product and Costco cutting commissions and giving kickbacks to its members.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? Check out the view and if they have nice soap in the bathroom.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I always talk as though they have already made the decision such as “When you are in England….”  

Do you have any time management strategies? I write everything down on a piece of paper today that needs to be done tomorrow, in bullet form.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I email them and build relationships on the phone.    

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Australia or New Zealand. It took me 31 years to get there!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I’d be in the music industry as a professional singer and dancer. I am a tap dancer – I started when I was 12 and I still love it to this day. It’s a great conversation starter!

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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