Marion Rose has been working in the travel industry since she was a teenager. In 1988 she opened her own travel agency. Today Rose enjoys motivating her peers to understand their value, set boundaries around their time, work by appointment and become experts in their field.
Marion spearheaded a food/item donation drive amongst her travel agent colleagues to give back to their local communities before
Christmas. When struggling with the challenges of COVID in their own businesses, these agents took the opportunity to give back and showed the value of supporting their local communities. Marion has been a true inspiration!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
As a teenager, I worked for Ontario Tourism at the Service Centres on Hwy #401, directing passersby to places of interest and directions to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Detroit, etc. At 18 years of age, I answered an ad in our local paper looking for “Students to Work Abroad” and took off to Nice, France on my first airline flight alone to sell popsicles and donuts on a (topless) Mediterranean beach in the South of France. That was my first introduction to the services of a travel agency and it wasn’t positive. Over the years I have worked for our local CAA, then Ruse Travel in London, and eventually opened my own office in 1988. After 33 years of selling travel we morphed from hand writing business tickets at 13% commission, to discounting our services for sell offs, to personally calling clients to book $99 packages to Las Vegas (for under $10 commission and hours of counselling and waiting on hold to secure), to eventually specializing and uplevelling our office, charging our worth and only working by appointment. It has been a fabulous career. The most fulfilling piece now is inspiring other travel professionals to understand what lights them up, becoming experts and attracting their ideal clients.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
There was a local travel agency in our small town and I was inspired by the thought that she got to tell people where to go, and she seemed to be always travelling herself. I questioned that you could actually do that for a living. I signed up for the two year Travel & Tourism program at Humber College and moved to the big city of Etobicoke to learn that I could.
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
My favourite parts have morphed over the years, from working with amazing clients and an incredible group of talented associates. Now, I most enjoy motivating my peers to understand their value, set boundaries around their time, work by appointment, become experts, focus on luxury and groups and to over-deliver at every opportunity. It is so fulfilling to see our industry being revived and respected. There is so much potential to make great money selling travel and I love showing others how to work smarter and not harder.
What’s a key thing you learned during the pandemic?
That life is happening for me and not to me. That our suppliers and travel partners are not at fault and that there is so much abundance available to those that can hang on and focus forward to the prize ahead. I also learned that the mindset shift that was necessary for travel professionals to charge for their time and expertise has become more clear and our industry as a whole, will benefit from this shift.
What will be your first post-pandemic trip and why?
I used to travel to escape my life. Now I live a life that I love. I feel like a Women’s Mindset Retreat in Bali will be my focus. I will take heart-centered female travel entrepreneurs to a beautiful location to understand their inner guidance and to refocus the direction of their business. Then I will sail the untouched Indonesian Islands for a few weeks with my family.
Do you believe more people will use travel advisors after COVID-19?
Ab-so-freaking-lutely! I feel that the public are living in fear and unsure of what protocols are in place and what is safe. We are the experts and this has been well established over the past year.
How have you changed the way you work since the pandemic hit?
In regards to suppliers, they have each had their own lessons to learn, but the partners that had our backs will be the ones that we promote and will focus our group business towards moving forward.
Do you have anything to add?
I cannot imagine a career as fulfilling and varied and hectic and challenging as the travel industry. It is truly my love, which is now more focused on the people working in it, than my clients. I now commit my energies to helping my fellow travel professionals to understand their value and develop a work/life balance that allows them to have a meaningful career. That starts with setting boundaries around their time, niching, focusing on luxury travel or groups, hiring out the things that they are not good at, and over-delivering to their clients to be able to charge for their expertise. It doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to work with everyone. Identify your ideal client, market directly to them, and enjoy the journey.