Vision Travel Solutions
“Tracy is a passionate supporter of Intrepid Travel and has been one of our top agents for many years. She understands the purpose element to the Intrepid Travel style and the difference it makes to the people and places that we visit. Tracey always makes sure things are taken care of for her clients so that they can have a smooth trip, taking care of the details, planning ahead and anticipating their needs before they have voiced them. If anything comes up, she is always ready to assist.”
Head of Business Development at Intrepid Travel for North America
Meet Tracy Fiala
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 since 1991. Wow, that seems like a long time when I put it like that: 29 years. That is over half my life. It really does not seem that long at all. Maybe because I am one of the few people that can say I truly love my job. I could not think of doing anything else. I wanted to be a travel agent to be able to see and experience the world and learn new things. I had never really travelled before, I was just 20 when I started work at a travel agency after two years of college to get my travel and tourism degree. Experiencing the world is the key word and that is what led me from the start to adventure travel. Be interactive with travel, get in there and take part and “experience,” not just check off sights and watch from a bus window passing by.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Two things are my favourite, one is the clients. The type of clients I deal with are so wonderful they want to get out and take part in their travel. Really immerse themselves in the countries and to learn. Sometimes I am just as excited for them going on a trip to a new destination as I would be for myself. I love to hear all about their trips when they get back. I have built up a real relationship with clients. Secondly, I know this one may sound obvious but it is true, the travel. Getting to go places I may not have been able to if I wasn’t in the industry. Some really unique experiences such as an expedition in Antarctica. Crossing Asia by train on the Trans Mongolian railway. A helicopter ride over the glaciers of New Zealand and a breakfast picnic on the banks for the Masai Mara watching the hippos bathe. These are just a few. Working in the industry opens my eyes and mind to new places I want to get to, that I am excited about seeing. And this continues to happen even after 29 years in the business, there is always somewhere new I want to get to.
How has travel impacted your own life?
With being a travel agent I have been very fortunate to get to see so many untouched places. To learn so much about the world and its people. Travelling has taught me to be patient, adaptable and very understanding and non-judgemental of other cultures.
How are you coping in this crazy COVID-19 world? What are you focusing on right now?
Now that the storm is gone from right over head. All my clients are now home safe and sound. Most of all bookings for 2020 have been cancelled, refunded or credited. I have been able to do a lot of administrative things that I never really have time for. Cleaning up the database so that when it comes time to re-market to clients I will be all set. Taking advantage of the extra time on my hands to watch or take part in the many webinars suppliers are putting on now to learn more about the different products out there, and more knowledge on certain destinations. And just more time to do things for me personally, this is a real timeout in life I do not think we will ever get again. So, trying not to waste the down time.
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?
Adventure, wellness and culinary travel I think for me were (and hopefully still will be) the biggest trends that I have seen in travel. Most of my clients are retired so now they have the time and the money. And probably the healthiest and fittest this age group has ever been. I specialize in adventure travel, so many are going on hiking /walking or cycling trips. For wellness, going on trips that included spas or yoga retreats. And so many new kinds of trips that focused around local cuisine, real food trips all over Asia, Europe and South/Central America.
Have you had any interesting or strange requests from clients?
No, not really. I do not think there are any strange requests. Some different places, maybe, but I always like that as a challenge. I put together some great packages for clients to the five ‘Stans last year. For some agents that may be strange, but I have travelled to them myself so always like when clients want to go to the more unchartered destinations. Fun requests, I have had clients get married in Antarctica and Southern Africa at Victoria Falls.
How many countries have you been to and where would you like to go next when we can travel again?
Eighty plus countries and all seven continents. I had a trip scheduled to Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan for May 2020, but that unfortunately got cancelled. When things are safe to venture out again, I would like to get there.
What’s a big misconception people have about travel agents?
They think it will cost a lot more when booking with travel agents. When with tour companies it is generally the exact same price. And with Airlines, most agents do have an extra ticketing fee. But now, really all the booking engines have ticketing fees as well. Better to pay your fee to a live person that can help in times of need than not having a contact person as you booked online.
Do you have anything to add?
Being an advisor over the last 29 years, a lot has changed in the travel industry. So, with that we have to be adaptable and willing to change along with it. And now especially after the COVID-19 virus is over and people go back to travelling (and I know they will), we will again have to change how we do business.