The 'Monday Minute' is a weekly feature at PAX dedicated to highlighting the movers, shakers, leaders and rule-breakers in Canada's travel agent community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Name: Justin Clarey
Company: Marlin Travel Port Hope
Lives in: Cobourg, ON
How long have you been a travel agent? Three years.
What is your specialty? All-inclusive packages, weddings, same-sex weddings, honeymoons, guided tours.
What do you love most about being a travel agent?
Honestly, I love being able to prove the worth of a travel agent to a skeptical client. My favourite thing some days is finding a client a much better deal than they found themselves, particularly when the client has been challenging. Getting to know my clients so I understand what they like about travelling and then matching them to a resort they’ve likely never heard of in their Google quest, and receiving their overwhelmingly positive feedback is one of my favourite aspects of doing this job. Of course the loyalty programs and travel opportunities aren’t bad either.
What's one travel trend you've noticed as of late?
Travellers that are looking for an experience, versus a “vacation,” is something we are seeing more of. There’s always going to be different travel styles, but personally, I’m seeing more people interested in experiencing local culture even when visiting all-inclusive resorts, which are typically geared towards a more relaxing vacation than an experience. I’ve always felt that vacations and trips are two very different things. Usually after a trip, I need a vacation!Over the years, how have you had to adapt to changes taking place in the industry?
Being relatively new to the industry, I benefit from not having had to adapt to the introduction of the internet to the travel industry. My main focus has been building relationships with clients, suppliers, vendors, resort reps, and so on. Anybody can learn how to make a booking. Data entry is simple. The challenge is building a network of clients who trust you, trust your advice and know you are there to support them through all aspects of their trip.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary and/or travel package are you most proud of?
So many times, clients have returned from trying something new that I recommended and those always make me feel good and proud. My most crowning achievement, so far, is closing the sale on my first same-sex destination wedding. I had just attended TDC’s first Same-Sex Wedding FAM, so I was chomping at the bit to get the first booking. I received a lead on a Monday morning and by Thursday of that week, we had signed all the contracts. Invitations went out the next week, and the week after, we had nearly sold-out the entire room allotment. I can’t wait for the next one and the one after that. It’s a niche market that I want to be a part of to build my network of happy clients.
What's your number one piece of advice to other travel agents?
Focus on the relationship and not just the booking at hand. Make sure your clients feel valued. Learn about them and get to know them so you’re better equipped to make recommendations. Follow up after they return and ask what they liked and didn’t like so you know better for next time. Turn your clients into ambassadors for you and what you do - referrals are the highest compliment you can receive from a client.
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