with Scott Waldron, Personal Travel Manager, Gravitate Travel, Toronto, a TTAND member
Where were you born?In Montreal.
What was your first job?Working as a busboy in a Greek restaurant, when I was in high school. After that I got a job for eight months working at the Canada pavilion at Epcot. One of the best jobs to date -- apart from working my own agency.
How long have you been in the business?Twenty-five years this year! Apart from Disney, always in retail travel, including meetings and events.
Where did your first flight take you?To Orlando, for the Disney job.
How has the business changed since you got into it?A lot more technology, more self-service, and we can have our own hours. Sometimes for me it’s more than a 40 hour work week, but I’m pretty strict with my time. I like to be able to scale it up or down.
Do you have a specialty?Luxury and family travel. I love selling France – I’ve been there 14 times. Also Italy, the UK, St. Lucia, Hawaii, Singapore and Australia. My most expensive sale? $68,000 for a family of four to Disney World.
If you could have any job in the business what would it be?Working for Disney in some aspect. It had a huge impact on me. Everything justworks.
What was your best fam?Years ago with FunSun, we spent 10 days in Fiji. I think it cost $500. (laughs) Back in the day!
Who do you most admire in the industry?That’s a big question. In general I admire the BDMs for the amount of knowledge they have and the support they give independent contractors such as ourselves. Jodi Murphy from Regent Seven Seas, Justin Wegiel from G Adventures and Sarah Smith from Hard Rock Hotels all come to mind. They get to know you, are very organized and get the job done.
What drives you crazy?When BDMs don’t recall who you are, or don’t reach out to those who haven’t yet sold the product. That ticks me off. They are not trying to “business develop.”
What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room?I notice the smell.Nice and fresh and clean, especially at some of the hotels with a “signature smell.” I take pictures, take notes. Then unpack.
Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale?I don’t believe in a strong close, especially with an affluent client. I tend to say, “When you are ready to proceed, I’ll be here for you.” I’m their personal travel manager and I know what their life is like.
Do you have any time management strategies?Recently I’ve turned off my Outlook email notification because it distracts me and I need my focus. Also my partner and I have an agreement that if he comes into my office and I’m looking at the screen I can’t be disturbed, just yet.
What do you do to keep your clients loyal?If I’m watching TV at night and relaxing and an email or a new request comes in, I’ll respond during a commercial as late as 10 pm, but saying only “I’ll get back to you in the morning.” They know if I can respond I will. Providing upgrades and extra amenities is always appreciated. I also keep notes about what people like. For example, I once got a hotel to buy a Tim’s card for a client who had mentioned to me that in the morning, she loves her Tim’s coffee and a muffin. I contacted the hotel who told me there was a Tim’s nearby and I had them buy a gift card using my credit card and present to her on check-in. It really made an impression. As I like to say, when you don’t have time for the client you don’t mind losing the client.
If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick?Ooh. A toss-up between Vienna and Paris. They’re two of my favourite cities: the ambience, the culture, food, people, music.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?A very good question. Probably a Clef d’Or concierge in a five-star hotel.
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