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Shalene Dudley was the winner of Baxter Media’s inaugural Travel Agent And Beyond Award last year. Since then, she branched out on her own to form an independent travel agency. She continues to make a difference in the travel industry, earning a nomination for the Travel Agent Appreciation edition for the second year in a row.
“I’m not sure where to start — or, more appropriately — where to end. Let’s start with Shalene’s advocacy as moderator and LGU organizer with the Let’s Get Uncomfortable movement, addressing workplace inequities and anti-Blackness in tourism from the perspectives of both travel professionals and travellers, while also addressing anti-racist action that attendees can implement within their work and organizations. As a peer mentor, Shalene excels. Shalene addresses travel from the perspective of a project manager with tools to improve the work flow. Shalene is proactive in her business and is generous with sharing her experience and expertise to all agents, across multiple host agencies in various aspects, whether ad hoc, informally or otherwise.
As an entrepreneur and business woman, Shalene zigs when the world zags. During the darkest times of the pandemic in the lockdowns, Shalene realized that relying on herself was the only place to be. Where many independent travel agencies were dissolving and closing up, Shalene took the brave and bold steps to acquire her own TICO registration number and implement her very own travel agency, Latitude Concierge Travels. Shalene’s true desire is to be in sales as her love of selling travel is what keeps her going, but her leadership and inclusivity is so strong that she’s unwittingly drawn travel advisors to her and now has six additional advisors in her agency, mere months after becoming official.
Tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry?
I am a mother of two based in Oakville/Burlington. I have been in the industry for eight years and just established my own agency in 2021.
Why and how did you decide to become a travel advisor?
I became a travel advisor after I took a long, much needed mental health break in Tulum. It was a very tumultuous time in my career as a project manager. I needed to find something that brought me joy in an environment where I could control my destiny and set my own goals for development and growth. I officially started with an acquaintance’s destination wedding and here we are.
What’s your favourite part of being a travel agent?
As a project manager, I love to see a great plan in full execution. Fulfilling to me is witnessing a client’s satisfaction and enjoyment while on an experience we curated for them.
What got you through the pandemic?
30% of our business is international and while Canada was locked down, many of our other clients were looking to us to help them safely continue to explore the world.
What trends are you noticing from the bookings you have?
There is a tremendous amount of last minute travel for destination weddings and honeymoons. Budgets are definitely higher than in previous years and many clients are upgrading to get the most out of their experience.
Do you believe more people will use travel advisors since the pandemic?
Absolutely. Clients are also open to different ways to book their travel and we have found that 90% of them are more than willing to pay service fees.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for travel advisors right now?
It is way to easy to say ‘stay positive’ but it is much more realistic and productive to find a circle of agents and suppliers who are forward-thinking and solution-oriented. Business planning, marketing, and networking are important now maybe more than ever before.
Can you share a special travel memory and what travel means to you?
My most recent and most memorable has to be our recent trip for my daughter’s 5th birthday to Beaches Negril. I love the fact that my children are international travellers and are seeing parts of the world I never dreamed of. To see the pure joy on their faces as they spent the entire day in the ocean was priceless. I am privileged to be able to open the world up to them and let them have experiences I never could have imagined as a child. Travel for me is a chance to readjust my mindset, reset my priorities, and reorganize my attitude.
What’s still on your travel must do list?
Some long haul trips to French Polynesia and Thailand, river cruising, castle tours in England and France, Mauritius, Seychelles, and a homecoming to Ghana and Nigeria.
Do you have anything to add?
Just a reminder to seize every attainable opportunity and make it work for you. There is always room to evolve.
|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|