With Kirsten Kelly, CAA, Belleville, ON

This well-rounded agent got used to dealing with the public pulling pints at a pub in her hometown in England.

Where were you born? In Daventry, England – north of London. I emigrated to Canada in 1990 with my parents. What were my first impressions of Canada?  So huge, so clean. And I love the four seasons.

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What was your first job? I worked in a pub in the UK, that’s what made me so sociable and wanting to be around people all the time.

How long have you been in the business? 27 years! When I first came here, I was an accountant but didn’t really like it, so I looked around and picked something that no matter the economy was doing it would survive. My first seven years were with another retailer, but so far I’ve been with CAA for 20 years.    

Tell me about your first airplane ride. When I was 15 we came to Canada on Wardair. It was a lovely experience.

How has the business changed since you got into it? Oh my gosh!  The internet! But now it’s become so confusing we are the heroes to save our clients when they are drowning in information. Also: pricing used to be fixed, at least for a while.  Now it changes all the time.

Do you have a specialty? Apart from multi-tasking? (laughs) Not really. But anything that people have trouble doing themselves. I love to take control and show them that yes, you can go there.

If you could have any job in the business what would it be? I’d like to be a Destination Rep in a nice hot destination!

What was your best fam? Kenya was right up there. Saw the “big five,” still can’t believe I believe I was there! I have an electronic photo album of the trip on my desk and it has actually resulted in bookings.

Who do you most admire in the industry? Costa Cruises’ BDM Silvio Alonso. A great guy.

What drives you crazy? Pricing. Sometimes you wish the prices could be firm for a few days.  But that also makes it exciting – in this business, politics and weather can affect your job.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room? Have a look around, sit on the bed, check out the bathroom.

Do you have a magic sentence to close the sale? No. With everybody wanting something so different, it might be “Let’s block it before it goes” or “Shall I we put this on your credit card?”  

Do you have any time management strategies? I’ve started to adopt a triage mentality of ranking my tasks.

What do you do to keep your clients loyal? Keep in touch, make it personal. Talk to them about their lives. I have a high repeat clientele, people who started as clients who are now my friends.

If you had to spend six months in a destination, which one would you pick? I’d get bored in one place, so how about a world cruise? Imagine how many destinations you could cross off your bucket list! I actually had a gentleman who did just that rather than go into an old folks home.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Probably working with small children, spending eight hours in the mind of a child. Love kids!

If you or someone you know is a front line travel agent in Canada and would like to be featured in Biting Questions, please contact us.

Travellers waiting at the Canada - U.S. Border. Photo courtesy of the Houlton Pioneer Times.
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