(From left) Flight Centre Independent consultants Maddie Miller, Heather Lavender, Wendy Wright and Cheryl Proctor (top) are sharing their love of travel with a growing client base. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Travel industry changing with the times

The times they are indeed a-changin’ and four Cowichan Valley women have embraced the new era of travel planning enthusiastically.

“Since the birth of the internet the bricks and mortar travel agency is, while not quite gone, becoming pretty much a thing of the past,” suggests Cheryl Proctor, a travel consultant with Flight Centre Independent (FCI). “As the population ages, the younger people don’t want to go and sit in an office and talk to an agent. They want to do everything online.”

That’s where Proctor, Maddie Miller, Heather Lavender and Wendy Wright come in. As consultants with FCI, they offer their expertise and manage to handle all the arrangements through email or phone conversations.

“There are times when I’ve done everything online, never even talk to (the client) on the phone,” says Wendy Wright.

Three of the four women are relative newcomers to the travel industry.

Proctor has been in the business for two years after retiring from a 25-year job at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre. They are independent agents working from home outside the traditional retail store model and are among approximately 300 agents across the country who have joined FCI.

FCI says it is bringing on 12 to 15 new agents every month with little turnover and expects to recruit 1,000 agents within the next four years.

“They have a great support system,” offers Lavender who acknowledges that she has always had an interest in travel but didn’t know much about the business side of the industry. Like many of the FCI agents, Lavender continues to work at another job while she learns the nuts and bolts of being a travel consultant and develops a client base.

Wright has been avid traveler all her life, having visited 22 countries.

“The company provides a comprehensive training process that we go through and they are always there to support us,” Wright says.

At 25, Miller is the youngest member of the group but she says she’s easing into the business while holding down two other jobs. She notes her clients aren’t necessarily in her age demographic.

“It’s a mix of people and I use social media a lot and get 80 per cent of my business through Facebook,” she estimates.

The four consultants says personalized service has great appeal to their clients.

“Researching trips for other people is so much fun,” says Wright. “We’ve got all the resources and we’re able to pass on the best deals.”

The women, who meet regularly to exchange ideas and talk about new opportunities for their clients, agree the personal connection they offer can be invaluable.

“If something goes wrong on a trip,” Proctor points out, “we’re there for them.”

For example, when the Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded in March, Proctor says no FCI customers were left stranded.

“People just have to pick up the phone and call us from wherever they are. We’re real live people and you’re not talking to some call centre somewhere.”

• • •

Boston Pizza in Duncan is participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics BC. This special promotion, Cops, Pops and Pizza is aimed at raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics BC’s life-changing programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

Law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes will serve customers, collect donations and raise awareness for Special Olympics at Boston Pizza restaurants across the country.

Cops, Pops and Pizza will take place on Thursday, June 27.

Just Posted

Duncan city council declares climate change emergency

“I think sometimes it’s important to start with identifying the fact that something’s real.”

Andrea Rondeau column: Second chance for dogs in Duncan bylaw a good idea

I’m not usually timid around animals, big or small.

Drivesmart column: Electronic monitoring pilot projects already underway

Our current system of trying to change driver behaviour largely consists of traffic tickets

Robert Barron column: Hats off to humanitarian workers

Saurazas didn’t seem to be fazed very much by the peril she was exposed to

Cowichan Valley jazz graduate wins prestigious scholarship

Bassist Brock Meades and drummer Graham Villette get $2,000 Fraser MacPherson Scholarship

Duncan Grande Parade draws a crowd

Entries old and new enjoyed by a big audience

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read