FEATURED ADVERTISERS Travel Agents, this May It's all about you! Smaller corporate agencies and independents with corporate clients – listen up! INCENTIVES | CONTESTS | WEBINARS | PODCASTS | EVENTS | JOBS
After immigrating to Canada from South Africa in 1995, Lesley Keyter saw an ad in the local paper to buy a travel franchise. Although there were many lessons learned a long the way, such as the challenge of launching a bricks and mortar agency on the eighth floor of a building with little visibility, she says the past 26 years have been the most rewarding time in her life.
Lesley has always been an absolute pleasure to work with. During these difficult times for our industry, she has been a breath of fresh air. She finds the fun, the positive, and is always open to being creative in promoting and marketing our brands. Her entire team reflects her leadership. Thank you, Lesley!
Tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
I have been in the industry for 26 years – I can’t believe how the time has flown by. My previous career was as a legal secretary working for Senior Counsel at the Johannesburg Bar. That was a very interesting job and I didn’t think I could top that but my travel career has been the most rewarding time in my life – even through all the challenges.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
I came to Calgary as a new immigration from South Africa in 1995 and applied for a post as a legal secretary but was told I did not have enough “local” experience. This is a common issue that immigrants face. I then saw an ad in the paper for a travel franchise and thought – why not? How hard can this be? I had a lot to learn. Buy a travel agency, they said. It will be fun, they said. We set up our agency on the eighth floor of a tower block with very little visibility and no experience. It was a good hard lesson in marketing.
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
No two days are ever the same and it’s a “sexy” business. When you plan experiences for other people based on what you have experienced, like a camel ride at the pyramids, a private game drive in the Serengeti or dinner under the stars at Uluru, it just feels so satisfying to share those experiences with like minded travellers and know that they are going to love them.
What got you through the pandemic?
My team – we had zoom calls twice a week when most of the staff were working from home. We got to know each other really well, and our kids and pets. With the small maintenance staff I had at the office we made sure each day was fun. We have a Mexican doll called Chiquita and she was like our elf on a shelf. You never knew where she would be. At lunch times we did trivia and shared bad jokes – really bad jokes. My team gave me a purpose and it is due to them that I maintained a positive attitude.
What trends are you noticing from the bookings you have?
Cruising is very popular and people are going for longer trips and higher category staterooms. I have had clients tell me that they have gone without travel for two years and they don’t have an infinite amount of time left so they are going to go big in their travel plans.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for travel advisors right now?
Get a signature for every booking through something like Docusign and make sure you include terms and conditions and waivers. No signature, no booking.
Can you share a special travel memory and what travel means to you?
Celebrating a milestone birthday sitting in the front lounge of the Queen Victoria as she made her way down the Geirangerfjord in Norway. It was gently drizzling and little rivulets of rain ran down the panoramic window while someone behind played classical music on the grand piano. Heaven!
What’s still on your travel must do list?
The Corinth Canal, Iceland, Namibia (I better stop now).
Do you have anything to add?
I am so proud to be part of an industry that has shown such resilience over the last two years. We are one! Onward and upward my friends.
|Travel Agents, this May It's all about you!|
|Smaller corporate agencies and independents with corporate clients – listen up!|
|INCENTIVES | CONTESTS | WEBINARS | PODCASTS | EVENTS | JOBS|