Posts Tagged ‘culture’
Hi There, VivBounty here with more tales of working in the travel industry. In my career in travel, I have worked in both retail and wholesale.
Retail travel is the actual store. The traditional travel agency at consumer level is where you go to book your flights, hotels, rental cars and vacations. This is where you make your reservations, pay for them and pick up your tickets, vouchers and where you call if anything goes wrong.
The wholesaler puts the tour and travel packages together coordinating things at the supplier level actually securing blocks of hotel rooms, guides, agents to meet, greet, assist with customs and immigration, coaches for sightseeing, entertainment packages, and transfers between the airport and your hotel.
In an earlier post I wrote that I didn’t find sitting behind a desk taking orders and watching other people travel very glamorous or gratifying. However, my very first “fam” tour, as the travel agents familiarization tours are called to Amsterdam did enable me to make the best of the situation. Knowing I was new and had a passion to travel to Kenya, a senior agent advised me, to see the boss about adding an extension on to my “fam”.
Since Amsterdam was the connection point for flights between Toronto and Nairobi, I took an additional 3 weeks off without pay after the 4 nights in Holland and purchased an AD75 ticket (code for “Agents Discount 75% off the full retail price”) on to Nairobi. Landing in the sunshine of equatorial Africa was just what I needed after the frozen canals of Holland and a bad bout of the flu’. Fortunately my father had a childhood friend in Holland whom I contacted and whose wife fed and nursed me through my flu’. He picked me up in the hotel lobby in Amsterdam, not having seen me since I was an infant, calling out across the group of travel agents saying he’d know me anywhere as I so resemble my dad. I then carried several gifts from him to friends in Nairobi.
The trip fired up my passion for travel to warm places and the possibly of living and working abroad during the winter months, having the best of both worlds. At the seasonal travel marketing seminars, a presentation about Egypt, Israel and Greece peeked my interest. I wrote to the tour operator to complement him on his presentation and got a job interview where he informed me that being a tour guide wasn’t glamorous. In fact, he added, the guide on his current tour was just making arrangements to transport the remains of a tour participant who had a fatal heart attack overseas back home to his family. I took the job anyway and worked for his company for the next 5 years.
Egypt was one of two main destinations for this travel wholesaler. The company was Canada’s #1 tour operator to the former U.S.S.R. at the time and again that winter I found myself going to a freezing destination. I escorted 16 people on an art and theatre tour to Moscow, Leningrad and Yaroslavl at Christmas. Although very enjoyable with many guides, rich in culture, the 150 proof vodka, always on offer, did its job well as anti-freeze. More on this and how long it took me to get another trip to sunny Africa in my next post.
Safari To Success