I had the honour of being nominated by G Adventures to be featured in the Canadian Travel Press ~ Travel Courier Travel Agent Appreciation Edition.
The nomination was for creating the Ecuador Challenge in support of Boots On The Ground ~ Peer support for first responders.
Though the Ecuador Challenge had to be cancelled due to current travel restrictions, over $5000 was raised and donated to Boots on the Ground.
“Michelle has done a phenomenal job in partnering with a local charitable organization which specializes in peer support for first responders. Not only has she brought awareness to mental health issues relating to first responders within her community, but she’s put together a fundraiser group and hosted fundraising events to help support her local chapter. She’s gone above and beyond her call of duty!”
~Ernie Balint Global Purpose Specialist G Adventures
Tell us a little bit about yourself, how long you’ve been in the industry and what made you want to become a travel agent?
In 2016, my husband and I took a leave of absence from our jobs, sold our house, and took our 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter to Peru backpacking. For over four months we explored Peru and parts of Bolivia. We had never been outside North America before this trip. It was quite a grand adventure for my family. Our intentions were to keep on travelling but we got a phone call that my father had passed away, so we came back to Canada to be with my family. Once home I knew the only thing I wanted to do was to help others take their own adventures exploring the world so I started researching becoming a travel advisor. Two and half years ago I joined Nexion and with their training and support I started my agency, Inspired Travel Adventures.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of being a travel advisor is helping people realize their travel goals. Many of my clients are new to independent travel. They’ve been to an all-inclusive or maybe a cruise before but they are looking for a different experience. They are ready for an adventure or to authentically experience a destination, but they don’t know how to make it happen. That’s where I come in, I get to be their guide on that wonderful journey. I also create small group adventures for my clients that I escort. I love exploring side by side with them.
How has travel impacted your own life?
Travel has changed me and made me a better person. It has broadened my perspective and helped me to be open to ways of life that are different from mine. I’ve learned to value experience over things and to live in the moment. Travel has helped me to develop my own confidence and leadership abilities as well as given me a true sense of what community is.
How are you coping in this crazy COVID-19 world? What are you focusing on right now?
I have to admit these last weeks have been tough. My business is very different then it was just a couple of months ago. I miss working with my clients and creating itineraries for their upcoming adventures. I had to take some time to mourn for my business, and regroup. Now I am focusing on my training and the back end of my business. I’ve put together a marketing plan to inspire my clients with destinations and experiences from their homes right now so that when it’s time to travel again, I will be at the top of their minds. My goal is to be ready to hit the ground running when the travel ban is lifted.
Prior to all this, what were some of the big trends you were noticing in travel or that your clients were looking for from a getaway?
I find that my clients are looking for authentic experiences. They want to stay in locally owned and operated accommodations, they want to learn about the culture and meet the people of the place they are visiting. They want to know that their tourist dollars are making an impact on the communities that they visit.
How many countries have you been to and where would you like to go next when we can travel again?
I’ve been to 15 countries so far with so many more on my bucket list. I hope to be travelling to Peru with my group in April 2021. This group trip is a fundraising event for Boots on the Ground which provides peer to peer support for first responders. This year’s trip to Ecuador was cancelled because of COVID but our group still raised over $5,000 for this amazing organization.
What’s a big misconception people have about travel agents?
I think people underestimate the time working with a travel advisor can save them. It’s a big job to put together the perfect trip. It takes a lot of time and skill to make sure it’s planned properly. I tell my clients that I focus on their travel plans so they can do what they do best knowing everything is being taken care of by a knowledgeable professional.
Do you have anything to add?
Give back to your local community and the ones you travel to. We can all make a positive impact on the world to help make it a better place for us all.
Originally Published in the Travel Courier ~ Travel Agent Appreciation Edition, April 27, 2020