With Steph Switzer, Owner & Travel Designer, Exclusive To You Travel Services in Stouffville, Ont.

Open Jaw

This TTAND agent is so successful she has 11 associates working with her!

Where were you born? In North York. 

What was your first job? Bartending at a resto called Rocky Mountain High in Richmond Hill. I was in university, studying psychology.

How long have you been in the business? Just six years – I was in corporate human resources but when I had my daughter – who’s now 7 – I decided to leave because it was a field-based role with a large territory. I could have been a stay-at-home mum, but as my husband and I love to travel I thought being a home-based agent would work well. And it does!

Tell me about your first airplane ride. I don’t even remember. My grandma has a place in Florida and we used to go there all the time. I thought Florida was all about old people, shuffleboard and no-splashing-in-the-pool.  

How has the business changed since you got into it? I have to say that travel agents seem to be more and more in demand. There is simply too much on the internet and clients drown in information. People value us more. I’m very busy and have a team of 11 associates and we are already over $2 million in sales YTD! 

Do you have a specialty?  I pass a lot onto my team to work on. I prefer to work with my favourite clients rather than specialize in a destination or travel type. I love the luxury of choosing who I work with.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I wouldn’t change what I do. It works for me at this stage of life. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a BDM – not ever, ever!

What was your best FAM? To the Riviera Maya. 

Who do you most admire in the industry? I really like Erminia Nigro, who is now with Air Canada Vacations as GM/Sales for Ontario and National Accounts. She forms genuine relationships with people, she’s never dismissive, always takes the time to look into things.

What drives you crazy? (Laughs) I have to be careful with this one! I’ll say: clients with unrealistic expectations who think we can move the sun, the moon and the stars.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I take lots of pictures – I’m such a geek! I don’t let my husband touch anything!

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? “Let me know when you are ready to move forward and we will get you set up.”  

Do you have any time management strategies? (Laughs again) I have to condense my work day round my daughter’s schedule, so admin support for me is huge.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Great customer service! Everyone I work with gets individual attention from me, no one is passed off among several people.  I give them more information than they likely need. But I see and hear it in the client referrals.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Thailand.  I went for six weeks right after university. I just love the destination – scenery, the food, the people.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I would be independently wealthy, volunteering. Volunteering for who?  Don’t know – haven’t allowed myself the luxury of daydreaming that far!

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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