For Sheri Almond Adventure Travel Is Her Comfort Zone

Open Jaw Exclusive – Finding Their Niche by Martha Chapman

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 five agents who are following their passion… professionally.

A lot of agents are intrigued by the “new” niche of adventure travel, but it’s a scary world out there. How do you compare Sri Lanka and Senegal? What is the best routing to Nepal?

It certainly helps to have a spirit of adventure, a bunch of experience in the active travel sector – and passports littered with stamps of about a hundred countries on all 7 continents. Which pretty well sums up Sheri Almond of Big Planet Adventure Travel in Calgary.

“In my late teens I travelled for months at a time – Southeast Asia, Europe and Central America. By the time I got back to Canada and enrolled in a travel agent course I knew I’d specialize in adventure travel,” says Almond, who’s been in the industry 21 years. “Adventure travel doesn’t mean going without a shower and running up and down a mountain but it does mean challenging yourself and  getting at least a  little outside your comfort zone.”

While it’s challenging enough for agents to keep on top of the all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, how does Almond keep up her product knowledge of destinations so very far off the beaten path? “I love to travel, of course, but also take webinars, I read constantly and subscribe to the U.K. magazine Wanderlust, which is a fantastic resource. There are 3 of us here in the agency [hosted by Personal Travel Management] and we share info all the time. Plus of course clients returning from trips love to talk about  their experiences.” Hot destinations include Peru, which Almond says she sells as regularly as some agents sell Vegas.

Is there any destination too exotic for her clients? Madagascar is out there for sure, she says, as is the Indonesian side of Borneo. And West Africa. And speaking of her own bucket list, Almond cites Bhutan and Papua New Guinea at the top.

“Will I sell an all-inclusive to Cancun? Well… I’d be very careful to explain to the client that this is far from my area of expertise. 99% of my business is adventure travel.”

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