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Martin T. Charlton has travelled to 155 countries and loves nothing more than being able to share his first-hand knowledge and enthusiasm with others. Although he’s been to many countries, he’s still got a hefty list of places he wants to visit like exploring the vastness of Greenland or travelling by 4×4 through the extraordinary Saharan region of Algeria.
Martin has an ample interest in knowing every destination he sells to give a first hand opinion of the place. He tries to be as updated as he can.
Tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
I’ve always been fascinated by our planet, and the diversity of cultures, people and places that exist outside of my small world. I’m captivated by images of far-off places and have an insatiable need to see those sights with my own eyes. After focussing my university studies on geography, archaeology and anthropology, I saved up enough money to hit the road with a backpack and a one-way ticket to Europe as soon as I had my degree in my pocket. After almost a year travelling abroad I was finally broke and returned home to ‘get a job’. A newspaper ad in the Vancouver Sun captured my attention: ‘Tour Leaders Wanted’ it said. That was where it all began about 27 years ago. It has been a long journey, and it’s not lost on me just how fortunate I have been to visit as much of this world as I have.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
After almost 10 years of working full time as a tour leader for Adventures Abroad I got married and that was that. I knew my days of living out of my suitcase full time were over, but I just couldn’t imagine giving up tour leading. Never. So, I changed roles but not companies and transitioned into a true hybrid position of destination specialist / part-time tour leader / assistant manager. I am super comfortable where I am. I love travelling, tour leading, designing trips and selling travel. It’s what I live and breathe.
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
My passion for travel has taken me to over 155 countries, and I love nothing more than being able to share my first-hand knowledge and enthusiasm in any way possible. Working in the travel industry allows me to be an educator of sorts, whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone, or out on the road. Present me with a challenge and I will lean into it. I thrive in this space, and this is always who I have been.
What got you through the pandemic?
From a business point of view it was our loyal clients who stuck with us. Their positive spirit has been enlightening, and made it much easier to move forward day after day, month after month. From a personal side I have attended an endless array of virtual travel events, webinars and functions. Staying connected with colleagues, other travel professionals as well as our partners around the world has been essential. We are all part of a greater ‘family’ and have been going through this together.
What trends are you noticing from the bookings you have?
People just want to travel. After two years of waiting and dealing with postponement after postponement our travellers have become more flexible than ever. Sure, they may have had their hearts set on a specific ‘bucket list’ destination, but they are now willing to pivot and set their sights elsewhere. They may now happily return to somewhere they have been before, or they will listen to our suggestions more so than ever and head to somewhere new that was perhaps not on their radar. This is where the travel experience of the travel professional can prove to be a huge asset.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for travel advisors right now?
As travel finally gets underway once again we must all be sure to approach travel in a more conscious and responsible manner. Always think about how you can sell a destination and at the same time help to protect the cultural heritage and economic wellbeing of the places being visited.
Can you share a special travel memory and what travel means to you?
There are a million good reasons to travel, and for me a large part of it is all about freedom. Freedom and discovery. I like to experience new things and step out of my comfort zone. The excitement of being somewhere new where I don’t speak the local language and can’t read the signs, and yet I can still find a way to communicate. I need to taste and try new things. Sure, you can read about the ‘Wonders of the World’ online, but wouldn’t you rather go and see them with your own eyes?
What’s still on your travel must do list?
Even though I have been fortunate to explore so much of this world, there are still so many places that have eluded me (and places I need to get back to). I’d love to explore the vastness of Greenland, wander the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna in Libya, travel by 4×4 through the extraordinary Saharan region of Algeria, and smell that salty air of the mid-Atlantic islands of Cape Verde. Oh, and if I ever make it to Pitcairn Island that will be a dream come true!
Do you have anything to add?
Let’s not underestimate or in any way downplay the challenge that the last two years has been for all of us. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. At Adventures Abroad we have had to make changes and adapt just like everyone else. But, the silver lining has been the ability to make good use of that time and invest our efforts into improving what we do.
|Travel Agents, this May It's all about you!|
|Smaller corporate agencies and independents with corporate clients – listen up!|
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