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.”