TPI's Carl Henderson Finds Success Specializing In A Very Tiny Destination

Open Jaw Exclusive – Finding Their Niche
by Martha Chapman

Carl Henderson

More and more Canadian agents are finding their own niche when it comes to selling travel. But how small can your niche be – and still earn you a decent living? Open Jaw has discovered 5 agents who are following their passion… professionally.

Think you could make a living selling a destination 1/5 the size of Prince Edward Island? Well Carl Henderson did. The secret to his success:  location, location, location.

Based in Oakville, Carl has been in the industry for 17 years in a variety of roles including as an agent with Virgin Holidays and iTravel2000 as well as working with TPI on the marketing side. “About 5 years ago I decided I wanted to go back as an agent – and I’m loving the freedom,” he told Open Jaw.

And not just the freedom, but the destination he has decided to specialize in. “At first I thought I’d specialize in cruising and see what happens. But I’d been to Tahiti previously, loved it and was all over any chance to sell it.”

He also realized that not a lot of agents knew how to sell it properly and heard of some really bad trips being planned. Add the fact that it’s definitely an upscale product, and Henderson knew he’d found his niche.

He hones his knowledge of the destination by visiting it at least once a year, and can now boast he’s been to every significant resort on the main 8 islands of Tahiti including Moorea, Tahiti and Bora Bora.

Is he not afraid of painting himself into a corner, professionally speaking, with such a narrow focus? “To be truthful it’s not 100% of my business as my Tahiti clients tend to come back to me for other high-end trips. But, they also bring great referrals, as do my TPI colleagues, so my Tahiti clientele is growing across North America, with lots from the States – and even one lady from Brazil. She didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Portuguese but we managed together with Google translate!” 

Not surprisingly, lots of his business is honeymoon and “bucket list” travel. And even the notoriously low loonie is not having an adverse effect on his business: as Henderson explains, people will splurge because it’ such a special destination. And he’s more than happy to plan the dream. 

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