Helga Omstead of Migrations Travel in Palgrave, Ontario

What was your first job? I worked as a cashier at Power Supermarket in Toronto (I might be dating myself!).

Tell me about your first airplane ride. When I was 18 working part time in travel, I went on a FAM to Barbados. I thought ‘I can’t believe this exists!’

How long have you been in the business? I started this agency 15 years ago – we now have a staff of six including my husband and me.

Tell me about Palgrave. It’s a small town of about 1,200 people an hour outside Toronto – Bolton is our largest nearby town. Lucky us – we get to walk to work, through a forest!

Do you have a specialty? Cruises, mainly – river and some luxury cruising too. Also a lot of escorted group travel. We just got back from a two week cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean with 75 clients.  Our groups are like a big family. 

What drives you crazy? Voice mail!  (Laughs) Getting stuck in that whole awful maze.

If you could have a secret weapon what would it be? Maybe a crystal ball so I could predict the next day’s prices!

What was your biggest individual sale? I booked a couple to French Polynesia, business class – about $40,000.

How do you keep up on industry affairs? I belong to Vacation.com and do a lot of webinars with them. We network a lot. And I read – a lot!

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I think I’m pretty up front and I give them really good options and get them excited. I work with their comfort level and don’t like to pressure people. I’m a pretty good closer, so think it works for me.

Do you have any time management strategies? I always have a to-do list that’s prioritized.  And I get in early, by 7:30 if I can – and like everyone else I multi-task.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? We contact them a lot, and have cocktail evenings and a Christmas open house.  We do a lot to keep in touch with them.

How would your clients describe you? Hopefully, hardworking and compassionate.   (We hug and kiss a lot.)

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? Either Italy or Costa Rica – I love them both so much.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? ‘Follow your gut instinct and your passion, and your life will be rewarding.’

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