Biting Questions With Carl Henderson, TPI Travel, Oakville

Open Jaw
Where were you born? In Oshawa, Ontario.

What was your first job? A paper route, delivering Oshawa This Week.

How long have you been in the business? 18 years, starting in the call centre with Jonathan Carroll's Virgin Holidays.

Where did your first flight take you to? A family sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands, with my uncle and aunt.

How has the business changed since you got into it? Immensely! And I've changed too, moving from discount travel and discount packages, onto corporate travel and now luxury leisure travel. There are so many more nitty-gritty details when you sell FIT.

Do you have a specialty? I've fallen into Tahiti as my specialty which I actively market and promote. I've been to over 60 countries and don't think there's any place more beautiful. I go every year, and have been to every resort. It's a place clients need help with and many come to me saying they're researching it and just confused.

If you primarily sell such an exotic, long haul destination, do you get any repeat business? I don't get a huge repeat factor, but people do fall in love with Tahiti and return for a special occasion. And I get referrals from them for other clients looking for Tahiti, or they'll call me about booking another destination because they enjoyed the experience so much.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I'd just keep doing what doing, I love being my own boss and the freedom and flexibility.

What was your best FAM? I've had a few really good ones down to Tahiti – last year we did the Four Seasons, Regis and Intercontinental. Truly it was the best of the best.

What drives you crazy? People not fully understanding the value of an agent, and who focus on price rather than the experience.

What was your biggest individual sale? I've had several in the $40,000 to $45,000 mark, but a nice $65,000 one to Italy for an American foursome comes to mind. Business class, private yacht, private guides and drivers, top hotels. It all adds up. ( laughs)

What's the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I check out the view, the bathroom, and then unpack.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? Not really. Mostly I'd say “If all this looks good let's get this confirmed for you."

Do you have any time management strategies? Open for ideas! (laughs) I seem to work long hours.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Keeping in touch. I also use the Virtuoso marketing pieces. I drop my clients a line every now and then.

What's the best piece of advice you ever received? “Love what you do, then you'll be good at it."

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? I would totally do the South Pacific.

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing? Um….Retired and travelling and enjoying the world!

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