with Joanne Patterson, leisure manager of Vision 2000 in Ancaster, Georgetown and St. Catharines, Ontario.

How long have you been in the business? Since 1989, when I started as an independent contractor so I could stay home with my small children.

Tell me about your first airplane ride. Hmm, let me think. I went to Freeport, Bahamas, to the Jack Tar Village. Eastern Airlines!

How has the business changed since you got into it? Oh wow! From a sales point of view, we were order takers and now we are travel advisors so we’re the ones picking up the phones and calling our clients.  It’s now a true sales position.

Do you have a specialty? I’m an Aussie/Kiwi specialist. I love those countries.

What was your best FAM? A JM Vacations one to Portugal.

What drives you crazy? (Laughs.) The way the industry fluctuates so much, it’s forever changing. The way the customer buys changes all the time.

If you could have a secret weapon what would be it be? Knowing what the client’s buying methods are.  To know what’s going to work to bring the client in.

What was your biggest individual sale? I have a client who goes every two years on a very big trip, about $40,000, always very customized.  The last one was a 28 day river cruise, then they flew to Sicily.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? I ask them for money!  It’s not a magic thing and if they’re ready to book I ask for the deposit.

Do you have any time management strategies? I took a time management course because I struggle with that a lot.  I allot time for certain things such as invoicing.

How do you cope with jet lag? I do a regimen. I take melatonin, I drink plenty of water, I walk around and when I get there I try to get to the time zone.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Touching base, all the time.  Now since everyone’s financial advisor is recommending a five year plan, I’m sitting down with my clients going over their five year travel plan: their dream destinations and “bucket list” trips. That way I can contact them about new developments in the industry which may interest them.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Count to 10 and listen to what the clients has to say and repeat what they said to you so they know you are listening. 

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I don’t know…travelling, that’s what I’d be doing.  If I had the ways and means, I’d be travelling.

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