Agents Tell Open Jaw: Despite Everything, We Still Love Travel

Clockwise from top left: Ian Elliott, TravelOnly Inc; Marilyn Mirabelli, Expedia Cruises; Lorraine Rose, Uniglobe Bon Voyage Travel;
and Bernadette Parrott, Wishbook Vacations and Tours / NEXION. Centre: Melissa Mackey, Travel Chicks.

That song by Queen was right. It is a ‘crazy little thing called love.’

A year into COVID, the travel community has experienced the unimaginable, yet what amazes and heartens me is how every person I speak to tells me how much they still love travel.

With Valentine’s Day reminding us to share our messages of love, it seemed like the right time to ask travel advisors that, after all this, what is it that they still love about travel?

I asked several travel advisors that question and I received poignant, heartfelt, and hopeful tales from across Canada.

Here are a few of their love letters to travel, edited lightly for length and clarity. We’d love to have you share your own love story about travel with us in the comments below.

Bernadette Parrott, with Nexion at Wishbook Vacations and Tours in B.C., describes her ongoing rollercoaster journey of COVID, with highs as well as lows.

It has been almost one year of cancellations, credits, refunds, insurance claims, broken hearts and shattered dreams.

My husband and I were confirmed on an amazing cruise through French Polynesia and Hawaii just as the pandemic began. It was cancelled, put into a FCC and so we waited. Not too much to love about the travel industry when this all began.

So, what about now? I love the resilience of those who treasure travel as much as I do. I love experiencing this beautiful world virtually and finding the beauty of “home”. I live in Penticton, B.C. – wine country!  Beautiful lakes and vineyards surround me. It has been a year of discovery.

I’ve taken time to renew myself and time to look at how to stay in contact and engaged with my clients. Now, as we look at the possibilities that can unfold as the vaccine becomes more entrenched into our lives, I look to a new beginning with a renewed spirit.

There’s a beautiful world out there just waiting to be discovered and I can hardly wait to open the world to those who seek relaxation, adventure, romance and time with family and loved ones.

For me, my FCC has been rebooked on a cruise that will take me through the Greek Islands.

Oh, and just last Friday I confirmed four river cruises for September 2022!

Lorraine Rose, with Uniglobe Bon Voyage Travel in Toronto, has suffered terrible personal tragedy this year that makes thoughts of travel even more poignant.

For me, travel will never be the same again as I recently lost my travel buddy, my daughter. I have 30 years of some great memories since she was six months old.

I love the resilience of the travel industry, we have recovered from 911, SARS, hurricane, floods, fires and this Covid pandemic too shall pass. Many of my clients are anxiously waiting to travel.

I like to travel to learn about other cultures and its people or to stay at a great hotel and be able to recommend it to my clients.

I like the lifetime learning experience of travelling, when researching a destination for a client that I haven’t visited and following up with them after the trip to hear their stories.

Marilyn Mirabelli at Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Toronto Rosedale, remembers what hooked her on travel for life. And she even uses the ‘language of love’ communicating to her clients.

When I was in high school, I read Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. John and Charley, a French poodle, take to the roads of America, and in one book I found a new love – the love of meeting people who are different and seeing places that were foreign to my teenage mind; to read words that painted colourful pictures or created unheard of adventures.

A line from the book never left me: “People don’t take trips. Trips take people.”

All the wonders travel offers are hard-wired in my DNA. I always return from travel feeling 10 years younger (and that’s a good thing!) and sometimes travel pushes me out of my comfort zone and that is when an experience becomes truly memorable.

I post for my clients ‘5 Reasons To Date A Travel Agent’. All five reasons start with ‘I am not a call centre’, and then I conclude, ‘So, isn’t it time we got together?’

Ian Elliott at TravelOnly in Brantford, Ontario, is energized by the synergies between suppliers and advisors that make travel experiences so unforgettable for clients.

I love how well the industry works together and how partnerships can make you look like a superstar. I have so many examples of where I’ve made a special request for a client and my supplier partner did the smallest thing, but it convinced my clients that I was a superstar.

I remember a recent group I set up for Mercedes-Benz where I arranged a private transfer for 60 guests. Without asking, the supplier arranged for a private bus for my group and had the clients’ logo painted right on the windshield “Welcome to the Mayan Jungle Mercedes-Benz”. I had texts all morning from the group thanking me for setting this up.

It’s that dedication and commitment to going the extra mile that makes me love what I do and appreciate the partners we work with every day.

Melissa Mackey, of Travel Chicks in the Edmonton area, continues to see travel as a blessing.

After all this, I will still hold travel near and dear to my heart. There’s a sense of thrill, adventure and anticipation when you show up at the airport and begin your journey to a new destination.

You never know who you will meet. I remember when I was flying to speak on Vancouver Island with my seven-month old daughter. We flew from Edmonton to Calgary, with a short layover, then onwards to Victoria.

I recognized the lady who was sitting next to us, who also flew from Edmonton. We began chatting away and she was playing with my fairly new baby. She then asked us where we were staying while we were in Victoria. Truth was, my first three days were arranged but I had no clue where we were staying the last four days of our trip.

The beautiful soul offered us to stay with her at her house. We had such a beautiful time spent with this lady, build a great friendship and still talk to this day. It was magical for her also because she was craving to be a grandma and here I was with a new baby that she could just love and help me as a single mom for a few days. It was so blessed.

This is what travel is about. It transforms your mind, body, soul and spirit. It has the power to ignite beautiful opportunities.


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