Biting Questions With Maria Rodriguez, Senior Travel Consultant, Sears Travel, Scarborough

Open Jaw
Speaking shortly after her return from a Sears Top Producers’ VIP FAM to Vegas, this agent shares some of her secrets to success.

Where were you born? In Venezuela – I’ve lived in Canada 25 years now.

What was your 1st job? I was a student teacher in Guyana.

How long have you been in the business? Even before I left Venezuela, I worked in a hotel and for an airline. When I came to Canada I worked for Trafalgar, then Sears, Global Matrix and now I’ve been back almost 15 years at Sears.

Tell me about your 1st airplane ride. It was in Guyana, on a 15 seater from Santa Rosa to Georgetown – I was 10. Was I frightened? No, I was excited!

How has the business changed since you got into it? Tremendously! People are more picky now about where they travel due to safety factors.

Do you have a specialty? Customer service! I do everything sales-wise but prefer motor coach.

What was your best FAM? Fiji and Sydney with Goway. They threw a huge party for us in Sydney with a 70s theme and we had a lot of fun. Everything was so pristine in Fiji, and Sydney had a really good atmosphere of prosperity and calm.

What drives you crazy? I don’t get driven crazy very often. Perhaps when people are taken advantage of.

What was your biggest individual sale? $54,000, for a couple on a Holland American cruise sailing to Australia and New Zealand. It was funny how it happened: I was with a client when the lady came into the agency and asked for a brochure. I couldn’t spend much time with her but she did ask me to send her an e-mail quote for a specific cruise and stateroom. I did that and the next thing I knew she called back and said “Book it!”

What’s the 1st thing you do when you get into a hotel room? I inspect it! I look at the safety issues like the windows and the balcony. I inspect the bathroom to see it’s clean and then I bounce on the bed to see how comfy it is.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I don’t – I’m sure of what I’m giving once I’ve qualified the client so it’s just a matter of them saying “Yup, go ahead.”

Do you have any time management strategies? I keep everything on my electronic calendar so I don’t have to remember anything and can keep my mind clear.

If you had to spend 6 months in a destination, which one would you pick? Spain, because my forefathers were from there.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Probably theatre with kids.

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