With Karen Buckowicki, AMA Calgary

Open Jaw

This advisor was on the road to becoming a linguistic anthropologist when the travel industry lured her away!

Where were you born? In Calgary.

What was your first job? My parents owned a service station, and when I was 15 I started working there, until I went into travel. My first travel job was at Co-op Travel.  

How long have you been in the business? I’m in my 23rd year. 

Tell me about your first airplane ride. My grandparents used to live on Vancouver Island and when I was five years old my parents sent me there -- on my own!  

How has the business changed since you got into it? The technology – I love it and I love no longer having to sit on hold. Online booking with the cruise lines and sun operators makes life a lot easier. Another change is that some events have made people leery of travelling to certain destinations, which is too bad.

Do you have a specialty? Cruises are about 70% of my business. As a junior agent I booked everything but now I love cruising and have done 18 cruises myself. Which was the best? I’d have to say I really enjoyed a Canada/New England cruise on Carnival. And I love river cruising. 

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? Oh boy! I think I’d keep this one. There are some days that are stressful for sure, but it’s in my blood.

What was your best fam? I went on the Jamaica Tourist Board mega-fam last September. We were 128 agents and they did a fantastic job.  Way more about experiencing the destination than touring a million hotels. Kudos to the JTB!

What drives you crazy? Being on hold forever! Drives me crazy!

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I lie on the bed to see how comfortable it is!  

Do you have any time management strategies? I’m definitely not good at time management, so no! My nemesis for sure.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal?  I treat them the way I would like to be treated. My clientele is a little bit older so I give them the service and respect I would show my parents. I always follow up with them and that’s why they trust me. About 80% of my business is repeat.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Turks and Caicos. One of the most beautiful places on earth. 

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I went to school to be a linguistic anthropologist. But I met a woman who was a fanatic about cruising and she got me hooked on travel!

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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