Biting Questions with Cathy Carter, The Travel Agent Next Door, Barrie

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Oakville.

What was your 1st job? I worked at Sportsman’s Motor Inn in Victoria Harbour as waitress/receptionist… I did it all!

How long have you been in the business? 40 years, including working in a small agency in Barrie, and 30 years with Sears Travel. My typing teacher told me I couldn’t type and I couldn’t spell, but with my social skills I might make a good travel agent. So I applied to work in an agency in Midland.

Tell me about your 1st plane ride. To San Diego, on a FAM. Yes, I’d never been on a plane before I got into the business.

How has the business changed since you got into it? Well…it became computerized! Electronic tickets, downsizing of companies, bankruptcies.  And that thing called the internet.

What was your best FAM? Recently on a river cruise to France… loved it. Very relaxing. And a younger demographic than I anticipated.

What drives you crazy? Consumers who think they know more than you, or who don’t want to work with you. I’m not here to be more knowledgeable about the internet than you are. It’s like they think you are out to get them, or charge them more. So they won’t tell you exactly what they want because they’re afraid you’ll up-sell them.

What was your biggest individual sale? $30,000 – a cruise to Australia and New Zealand.

What’s the 1st thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I look at the washroom. And check out how much closet space there is!

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked? I was querying rental car prices in Trinidad and the car rental company rep asked if my clients intended to take it out of the country. 

Do you have any time management strategies? No! And I would really like some! I do find working from home that I’m not as organized as I’d like to be.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? I treat them like family. Follow up with them call them a couple of days before they travel to make sure all is clear, and a couple of days after they get home.

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

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? Maybe Australia. I haven’t been there yet and it’s large enough that you wouldn’t be bored.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I wouldn’t mind accounting -  I enjoy balancing files. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. How many people can say after 40 years - “I really like what I do”?

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

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