A true life-long member of the travel industry, TravelBrands BDM Jeff Carpenter told PAX that his longevity with the company has become a bit of a running joke among his industry colleagues.
“The running joke in the Industry is that I must have started when I was 10yrs old!” he joked.
Following a post-secondary tourism course, Carpenter joined Fun Sun Vacations in Edmonton as a reservations agent at 19; a series of mergers and acquisitions over the last two decades has seen Carpenter stay at the same company for 16 years, currently serving as TravelBrands’ business development manager for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Based in his hometown of Edmonton, Carpenter’s daily duties centre around helping agencies grow their business, “making sure they are up to date with our promotions, and comfortable selling everything TravelBrands has to offer.
“We have a ton of product under our umbrella, so they need to be aware of all of the tools available to assist them,” Carpenter said. “In-office trainings, webinars and evening trade events are some of my favourite ways of interacting with many advisors as well.
“I currently cover and love working with all my agency accounts that I have come to know over the years.”
This week, PAX checks in with Carpenter on art shopping in Las Vegas, the best place in the world for Taco Tuesday and a game of water polo gone awry…
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Jeff Carpenter (JC): I sometimes get bugged about the size of my checked luggage (no, it's not hair products!), but I'm actually a pretty basic packer for my carry-on! Water bottle, some type of salty snacks, headphones - although my Nexus card has become my new best friend over the past couple of years!
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
JC: Hawaii - for sun destinations, this tops the list for me hands down! The fresh lei greeting on arrival, friendliness of the people, culture, music, and of course beautiful scenery on all the Islands cannot be beat.
Europe - I have only been to Europe once! For someone that works in this industry, that probably seems crazy and I definitely want to discover so much more! I did a FAM trip with a great group of travel agents to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and the history, architecture, food and way of life in Europe really appealed to me.
I really enjoyed Thailand & Costa Rica for the diversity they offer as well!
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
JC: This may sound cheesy, but probably EIA in Edmonton, because every time I know I'm getting on a plane to go somewhere! They've done a really good job of enhancing the airport with new restaurants and security areas recently. Also, if people have some time to kill, there's an outlet mall, a casino and horse racing just outside of the terminal now.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
JC: While the opportunity to travel is why I chose to get into the industry, it has to be the people for sure! It's a very fun industry to be a part of and many of my work colleagues, travel agent accounts and fellow BDMs I consider great friends! I should probably say my boss too since he is probably reading this, but I do work with a really amazing team!
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took (and why was it memorable)?
JC: It was Disneyland. We left on Christmas Day for a family vacation when I was nine years old. It was my very first time on an airplane and I was in awe of everything – from the airport, to the plane, the Los Angeles traffic, the hotel and of course the parks. I've been lucky to be back several times since, and you can't help but feel like a kid every time you walk up to the entrance. I blame my parents for giving me the travel bug at a young age!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
JC: This is actually a funny answer. I was in Las Vegas and I saw a poster hanging in a store with a great picture of the Strip. It was only about $15 and I thought I would just get a frame when I got home and hang it up in my condo. Needless to say, the dimensions of the poster made it impossible to find a frame for it to fit well, so I had to get a custom frame made - which turned my $15 purchase into a much more expensive souvenir! It does look good on my wall, though.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
JC: People who know me will agree that I'm a pretty picky eater, but I've enjoyed some amazing meals on some of our cruise line partners! The street food in Thailand, shrimp trucks on the North Shore in O'ahu, Taco Tuesday in Old Town San Diego and sipping hot wine in Prague are some of the more unique ones that come to mind.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
JC: When airlines are boarding Zone 1, and people from Zone 2, 3, 4 crowd and hover around the line-up area!
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
JC: I played soccer pretty competitively growing up, so I guess that is not hidden. A few travel agents have witnessed me play the spoons before (depending how many cocktails are involved) and I'm an OK beatboxer - DJ Jazzy Jeff!
PAX: When flying: window shade up or down?
JC: A lot of my business flights are early in the morning, so mostly shade down. I have trained myself quite well to fall asleep before we even take off! If it's a decent time of day though, I'll leave the shade up for take off and landing and enjoy the scenery.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
JC: I would say it's more memorable than funny. I was at a resort in Cancun for a week vacation, and a buddy and I decided we should join in on some of the daytime activities. What we were expecting to be a friendly game of water polo resulted in a fractured hand for me (it was a freak accident) and a trip to the Cancun hospital (probably the nicest hospital I have ever seen, by the way). They wanted to do surgery and insert a screw in my hand, but I told them to wrap it up and give me some anti-inflammatories. A couple tequila shots later and I survived the rest of the week with a new souvenir. Moral of the story - just stay at the swim up bar and relax instead. And good thing for travel insurance!
PAX: What should travel agents know about TravelBrands right now?
JC: We are your one stop shop that is all about options & customizing; we're innovative and agency-focused (we constantly have great incentives for agents) and we like to have fun! There are some very exciting times ahead for TravelBrands as part of the H.I.S. Group, who are a global travel giant that will provide us the strong backing to continue to grow and enhance our product, services and technology for Canadian agents and travellers.
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