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: Scott Penney
Company: The Travel Agent Next Door
Lives in: Dartmouth, NS
How long have you been a travel agent? I’ve worked in the industry for 13 years, but have been a full-time agent for the last two years.
What do you specialize in? I find I do some of everything depending on my clients’ request. However, my focus and area of expertise would be with group travel. I work a lot with cruise and tour groups.
What do you love most about being a travel agent?
My favourite part about being a travel agent is helping my clients find that perfect vacation. It’s very rewarding when a client comes to me with a vague idea of what they want to do, and I can put together a package and make a recommendations that get them excited.
It’s the excitement and anticipation that I see in the client’s eyes when they have booked, and they are waiting for the big day to come that makes my job so rewarding. A client recently told me I helped make her dream come true. As travel agents, we are creating happiness and smiles for our clients every day.
What is one travel trend you’ve noticed as of late?
I find my clients are looking for something new and different, they are looking for new adventures and new experiences. I’ve worked with most of my clients for a many years and its very interesting to see how their interests and desires are changing.
They are asking more questions and are intrigued by new destinations. I have been finding my clients who are traditionally south and all-inclusive type of clients are now asking and inquiring about other parts of the world. They have become more curious.
Over the years, how have you had to adapt to changes taking place in the industry?
Our industry changes on a daily basis. I find if you tune out even for a day you are missing something. No longer can we just sit still and do what we have always done. We have to be willing to change as well.
Our clients are becoming more informed and more knowledgeable and they want new things and new experiences. Clients have so much more choice and it is so important for us to stay up-to-date on new tools, products and services to be one step ahead.
I have been an agent with The Travel Agent Next Door for the last five years and just within our own organization, there have been so many positive and wonderful updates to new tools and processes that make it easier for us to be more effective and efficient agents for our clients. It’s a great time to be in our industry. The changes are exciting.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary and/or travel package are you most proud of?
I’ve made bookings where it’s been a big commission and I’ve made bookings where the commission has been small, but to each client, their experience was the same. It was very special and that is what is most important.
I remember booking a client and his family to Africa, so he could show his Canadian-born children where his family came from, where he grew up. I booked a simple flight for a client to travel to the other side of Canada to see her son who she had not seen in many years. Each was special for that client, and I was proud to have been part of it.
What is your number one piece of advice to other travel agents?
Never lose sight of the big picture! Do not sweat the small stuff (I know it’s easier said than done!) In the end, it always works out. We all get expectations from our clients, which sometimes may not always be realistic, and it can be frustrating, but we have to stay focused because one of our roles is to educate and inform our clients as well.
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