Carrie Hiebert has 39 years of experience in the travel industry! At the age of 27 she bought into Thompson Travel, the well-established agency in her hometown of Humboldt, Sask.
Carrie has been a partner with Collette tours for many years. This year she continued to stand behind us as a partner and remains a strong advocate. Carrie has had a challenging year but remained focused on making sure she did the best for every single one of her guests. Carrie treats everyone like family and makes sure they have the best of the best! She is loyal and cares about how people are treated. I am happy to say I get to work with Carrie, she cares and I know she will come back strong when the world allows her to do so. Buckle up world, Carrie is coming for you.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
My life, my career has been in the travel industry — like 39 years already — it’s hard to believe.
After attending college I worked in one of the oldest agencies in Saskatchewan. Then I moved to Vancouver and worked in corporate travel. At 27 I bought into Thompson Travel, the well-established agency in Humboldt, my hometown.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
My grandfather travelled a lot, and we travelled as a family. I have a passion for adventure, I love exploring exotic and new destinations. I have a deep interest in history, culture, food and the people… I feel this makes each destination unique. But when I am not travelling I do feel I travel through my clients.
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
Making people’s dreams come true… researching and arranging the details to make to the travel experience the best it can be for them. I enjoy the details and taking the time to work with them to find what makes their trip special — the trip they’ll remember.
What’s a key thing you learned during the pandemic?
Patience and perseverance. Take the time to talk and listen to your travellers — share stories and memories, pictures and experiences… the smiles tell it all.
What will be your first post-pandemic trip and why?
Egypt — our group has been rebooking from the previous year… Ron and Gina from Collette have continuously given me the confidence that it’s possible. Egypt is ready, open and is receiving visitors. The group is more than excited to visit one of the top five destinations with fewer crowds post-pandemic. With all protocols and safety factors in place, this is the ideal time to visit.
Do you believe more people will use travel advisors after COVID-19?
Yes – I sure do! We were their lifeline when COVID hit, and we were there for them when the world stopped travelling. We truly are an asset not to be forgotten, through the pandemic we have stayed in touch with our suppliers, tourist boards, airlines, tour operators and through the continuous updates and changes of government advisories. Our clients, our passengers, trust our advice and knowledge.
From charging fees to re-evaluating which suppliers you will work or won’t work with in the future, how have you changed the way you work since the pandemic hit?
Fees are a must — for our service. We have to! We have learned this past year through all the cancellations, the rebooking, the refunds — we have all done a lot of work for our passengers.
Staying in contact has been vital. Our partnerships with our suppliers who have kept us engaged through communications, updates, emails, phone calls, zoom meetings etc. even when the news has made us disengaged. Some days the personal phone call from a supplier or your BDM was like a ray of sunshine, it truly gave you hope. They have been so positive and forward thinking that I too believe we will get through this.
How have you adjusted your business strategy over the past year?
Staying engaged with supplier webinars, zoom meetings, education, and training, plus personal wellness, staying positive, enjoying the outdoors, taking photos and my latest — a bit of genealogy.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for travel advisors right now?
Stay positive. You are here for the love of the industry and for now keep the dream alive. Stay positive. The industry is resilient — we have conquered many other worldly events and we will travel again.
Do you have anything to add?
We are all in this together and together we are stronger. We will move forward for better travel. We have had time to reflect on how to make travel better for the world and the people through the suppliers and the airlines.