Sherri McCarten Travel in Belleville ON, which recently won the Readers' Choice Award for top travel agency in Belleville by the readers of the Belleville Intelligencer Newspaper.

How long have you been in the business? 22 years. I started as junior, stamping brochures, handwriting VIA rail tickets. My take-home pay was $175 a week.

What was your first airplane ride? Oh my God, yes, from Toronto to California on a travel and tourism class FAM. When the engines started up all I could think was, ‘What on earth is that noise?’   

How has the business changed since the 80s?  I remember if someone came into your office and they wanted a cruise you knew instantly they had money.  But now it’s so nice that everyone can afford a cruise.  Plus I even remember sales calls by airline reps!

Do you have a specialty? Disney – I absolutely love Disney.  I’ve been 12 times.

What was your best FAM? My first:  an Insight FAM to England Scotland and Wales. But I’ve been really lucky and have enjoyed great FAMs.

What drives you crazy? Laughs. How much paper do you have?  The disrespect that the industry has for travel agents. Reducing commissions is such a slap in the face.

If you could have a secret weapon what would be it be? Unlimited funds to cater to my clients!

How do you keep up on industry affairs? Open Jaw – plus I read the trade papers and listen to my staff and to what our American Express head office has to say.

What was your biggest individual sale? An extended family trip to Disney World – about $28,000.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale?  “I need your names as they appear on your passports……’

What do you do to keep your clients loyal?  I get to know them on a personal level – their families, their jobs.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Alaska – I absolutely love it, so untouched and the air smells amazing.  Or Jamaica…or Italy….

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