Biting Questions with Kathy Wilton, Vision Travel, Kelowna B.C.

Open Jaw

Where were you born?  In Vancouver.   

What was your first job?  In my middle teens I worked in a country store in Aldergrove, BC.

How long have you been in the business?  Coming up on 30 years.   I took a course in Kelowna and volunteered in a travel agency and was very soon offered a job there.  I’ve done it all with passion!

Tell me about your first airplane ride.   With Qantas, to Hawaii on a FAM.  It was awesome!

How has the business changed since you got into it?  By leaps and bounds - the technology grows and grows.  I remember old Reservec, with teletype style keys, reading the OAG and writing out airplane tickets. I’m still old school in that I do take part in my clients’ lives and they stay with me because of who I am. 

Do you have a specialty?  I tend to sell a lot of cruises and destination weddings.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be?  This one! I wouldn’t change it for anything!

What was your best FAM? Costa Rica. We stayed in the jungle for a couple of days, visited the hot springs and went ziplining  – it was very cool.  Also a Crystal Cruise FAM through the Panama Canal.  I can’t say enough about them.

What drives you crazy? When I do a lot of work and the client says “Oh well I saw it on the internet so I’ll book it there.” People don’t realize that travel agents are a vital part of their holiday or business trip.  And when they have an issue, who are they going to call?  The computer?   Plus, we are here after your return.

What was your biggest individual sale? I say, for example, that I can usually put a complimentary hold on a cabin for this cruise and you can think about it for a day or so before your deposit is due. If it’s a package, then I ensure I say that all is based on availability, subject to change.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I judge it.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale?  I actually do not.  I feel out the conversation – if for example it’s a cruise, I say, “How be if I give you a day to think about it.” And I always say that everything is based on availability and subject to change.

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked? They wanted to know if the lowest category cabin on the ship was under the water line!

Do you have any time management strategies?   Most of my clients are in Calgary, where I lived or fifteen years, so my office hours are 8 am to 4 pm Calgary time. And I always have a list!

How do you cope with jetlag?  I do not go to bed on arrival – even if I’m dropping dead on my feet.  I wait til my regular bedtime.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal?  It’s your service, your personality, the job you do and you must always be there for them. And some of my clients have become my friends.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?  “Be diligent.”

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick?  The Caribbean – probably St. Lucia.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?  I don’t have an answer to that because I can’t even picture doing anything else! I just love my job and am totally passionate about it.  I need the people and the personalities!

If you’d or someone you know who is a front line travel agent in Canada would like to be featured in Up Front, please email

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