Biting Questions with Jill Fost, Travel Agent - Travel Society Toronto

Open Jaw

Jill Fost

Where were you born? In Burlington, ON

What was your 1st job? At a Tim Horton's in Burlington.

How long have you been in the business? Just over 10 years – I love to travel myself and my parents always took me on adventurous trips, touring and staying in B&Bs. My 1st travel job was as an agent at Cruise Holidays.

Tell me about your 1st airplane ride. I don't remember my 1st flight, but the 1st I do remember, when I was 6, was quite something. I was travelling home from Jamaica with my grandmother, who happens to be deaf, and we had to make an emergency landing in Kingston where they put us up in a seedy hotel. But it didn't put me off travel!

How has the business changed since you got into it? The whole electronic thing was happening when I started, and obviously that's really grown. But airline tickets have changed for sure, e-tickets are much easier.

Do you have a specialty? I try to do specialty trips, custom designed itineraries and yoga group retreats.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I'd love to be a safari guide in Africa – I think that would be the coolest thing.

What was your best FAM? Hands down, Antarctica. Unbelievable!

What drives you crazy? When you do a lot of work on a custom itinerary and the customer never gets back to you. Not even a thank you.

What was your biggest individual sale? $40,000 for a couple doing back to back tours around the world for 4 months.

What's the 1st thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I check the comfort of the bed!

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I usually correspond by e-mail and send the client the trip details and a credit card authorization form with a note saying I am looking forward to receiving the form.

What's the weirdest question you've ever been asked? “Can I do a 1 day trip to Antarctica?" (Laughs) And they were serious. And they couldn't believe that I couldn't pull it off.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I always try and grab them when I know they're thinking about their next trip – around 6 months after their return.

What's the best piece of advice you ever received? “It's not the destination, it's the journey you take to get you there."

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? Lucca, Italy – time stops there. You can sit in a piazza and drink coffee (or wine!) and your day is complete.

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing? I'd get back to my other passion – grooming million dollar dressage horses. It pays peanuts and it's hard on your body. But the horses sure are beautiful!

If you, or someone you know, who is a front line travel agent in Canada, would like to be featured in Up Front, please e-mail

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