Gravitate Travel, The Travel Agent Next Door
“Scott is a true professional and works tirelessly to grow his business. He’s got a great ability to see the big picture and pulls all the right levers in order to make his ideas a success. I can’t thank him enough for his steadfast belief in G Adventures. It’s an absolute pleasure working with Scott.”
Global Purpose Specialist, G Adventures
Meet Scott Waldron
Tell us a little bit about yourself, how long you’ve been in the industry and what made you want to become a travel agent?
I have been in the industry for over 24 years and working from home running my own business under the Travel Agent Next door for the past 4 years and would not change a thing. I became a travel agent after working at Walt Disney World in Florida back in 1995-96 via their college program. I loved the interaction with the guests and making them happy during their vacation time. The experience was one memory I will never forget.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Being creative. Finding new ways to market to clients with our partners, working with my team and solving challenges. Networking via my BNI chapter to expand my business is also a meeting I look forward to weekly. I could not have started my business and gotten it to where I am now without their support and trust.
How has travel impacted your own life?
I am attending conferences/trade shows and visiting destinations I have not thought of going to before. The opportunity to explore new destinations and meet new people is amazing. My partner and I love to travel, at present we are planning two weeks in Japan with our preferred DMC there, so when these travel bans lifts, we are out of here! Travel has given me a new perspective on life, learning different cultures, languages, experiencing new foods and ways of looking at the world.
How are you coping in this crazy COVID-19 world? What are you focusing on right now?
It’s not easy, but we are working through it. There have been a lot of rebooking and cancellations of course, but we have to look past this. I have been through 9/11, H1N1 and SARS already and the business always comes back. Well, this time people are cooped up at home and many of my clients have already started a list of places they want to explore once travel commences again. We are focusing on promoting more local destinations, like Montreal, Alberta and Scottsdale, Arizona and other destinations that require longer term planning like South Africa, Japan and Australia, and World Cruises.
Prior to all this, what were some of the big trends you were noticing in travel or that your clients were looking for from a getaway?
Wellness travel for sure. I am working on a group to the Body Holiday in Saint Lucia for September 2021 for about 20-25 people with a client, and it’s a total health and well-being focus. Also, I am seeing more families focusing on European trips with more experiential components for their kids. By this I mean not just The Eiffel Tower and high touristy sites, things like paint like Monet, French baking classes for the family and a Paris city scavenger hunt where the kids get prizing at the end while exploring the city. These tours are great not only for the kids but for the family as well, the parents see their kids learning and having fun while spending quality time with the family learning about another country. Finally, multi-generational family trips, we are seeing more and more larger families going away together and not just to the Caribbean, but Europe and South America and even Asia and the South Pacific. I have one family that is going to Cambodia and Vietnam for the first time, who now while at home, are learning together the basics of the Cambodian language for their trip. It’s all about the combined experience.
Have you had any interesting or strange requests from clients?
Yes, I have one client that wants to fly with the geese (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/flying-with-birds-france/) in France, on hold for pandemic reasons at present, but wants the experience. I have other clients that want to go hiking in the Cotswolds in the UK.
How many countries have you been to and where would you like to go next when we can travel again?
Next, Japan in 2020. Countries visited: over 43 and will keep going. After Japan, New Zealand or South Africa.
What’s a big misconception people have about travel agents?
We charge more, no one uses travel agents anymore, we try to cheat people, we are being replaced by the internet, we can’t book flight-only or hotel-only bookings. I don’t agree with any of these, maybe they just haven’t found the right agent they click with and trust. And, yes there may be those out there that in the past have given us a bad name, but with TICO on our side, those individuals are being dealt with. Most of our business is from referrals and if all of the above statements were true, why was 2019 our best year? We have made it past that “new business threshold” and have come to have clients that trust us, know their travel styles, know that we keep updating our skills, learn about new destinations and advocate for them, the clients’ trip.