Meet Colette Brown
Colette Brown’s love affair with travel began as a child born and raised in Switzerland, with Europe at her doorstep. An avid traveller, Brown started planning trips out of passion after helping friends plan holidays. She said so long to a career in accounting to take on the fulfilling role of being a travel advisor.
Maison de Voyages
Colette is a pleasure to work with, optimistic and willing to try even in these difficult times. She focuses on long term vision and puts an action plan in place to get the business. She is an expert in luxury travel and a great fan of Luxury Gold and Uniworld. Thank you, Colette, for all your support.
Partner Marketing Specialist, TTC Tour Brands
Tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
I’m a specialist in luxury travel and enthusiastic about affordable yet indulgent travel. My love affair with travel began as a child born and raised in Switzerland with Europe at my doorstep. I enjoy immersing my valued clients and myself in unique travel experiences and activities.
I have worked more than 20 years as a travel agent and I am fluent in four languages. During this time, I have helped clients arrange one of a kind travel experiences worldwide, including land tours (for example food, wine, gardens, golf), river and ocean cruises, family reunions and corporate conventions. With a wealth of hands-on knowledge, I love enabling discerning travellers to explore and experience our amazing world.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
My husband and I travelled frequently. Friends began to ask me for help in planning their trips. This became a passion. I decided to take lessons at Concordia to learn the ins and outs of the industry. Through this course I met an owner who gave me the opportunity to join her travel agency. I said goodbye to my accounting career and never looked back.
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
Planning a vacation together with a client gives me great pleasure. It is a lot of fun to dream together. While they are travelling, I enjoy following them from afar. Clients tease me by saying they feel my presence. I also love to accompany small groups, showing them places I have been to or discovering new countries and new cultures together.
What got you through the pandemic?
At the beginning of the pandemic, feeling optimistic that this would be over soon, I began preparing trips for future groups. For example; a two week trip to Italy for a group of 12 with the theme of gardens and opera. Another was a ten day vacation for a group to Morocco. I also read up about different destinations I have not been to. As the reality of a long pandemic sank in, I worked on setting up my own website: www.hot.ca/colette. Once I was online, I went ahead and reserved group space on ocean and river cruise lines for 2022 and 2023, which I then posted on my website.
What trends are you noticing from the bookings you have?
I am finding that my clients prefer to sail on smaller ships or take a river cruise. I am booking more all-inclusive vacations. Groups of 12 or more are looking to book 2023 or even 2024.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for travel advisors right now?
My advice is and has always been that getting back to your client immediately is very important. Even if you do not have an answer, let them know you are working on their project.
Can you share a special travel memory and what travel means to you?
At the very beginning of river cruising, my husband and I were invited on a seven-day cruise on the Seine. It was quite a small ship with just over 20 cabins and 35 passengers. On the fourth day while having my breakfast, the captain came to see me with a special request. One of the passengers fell in Paris. Her leg had become very swollen and she needed to see a doctor. As the crew was needed on board, I volunteered, as the only French speaking passenger to accompany her to the hospital. Just as we drove off, the cook came running, could I try to find two lobes of foie gras? With that he gave me a blank signed check.
Luckily the lady’s leg was fine, so off we went to find foie gras in the French countryside. At a bistro I inquired where I could find this specialty. I was directed to a supermarket but I found they only had the frozen kind. Finally, at a garage of all places, I was told about a farm that offered fresh foie gras. To reach it, we had to pass through an old town gate in our big 56 passenger bus. The driver was not sure he could make it, so I had to stand in the middle of the street and help guide him through.
Finally, we arrived at this typical French farm. The dogs were lying in the sun and chickens ran freely around the grounds. An old farmer came to ask what we wanted. I explained what we were looking for. Oh yes, he said we have what you need. His daughter brought two beautiful lobes of fresh foie gras and he accepted the cheque. A special day.
Travel to me means experiences waiting to happen, making new friendships, tasting different foods and learning about different cultures.
What’s still on your travel must do list?
On my travel to do list are an African Safari and a visit to South Africa.