Finding a work-life balance can be a real juggling act and no one knows that better than working moms with young kids. So maybe it’s no surprise that Regina, SK-based travel agent Carrie Anne Gillespie came up with her idea for a new travel app while caring for her newborn son in the wee hours of the night.
“My son was 10 months old and it was a middle of the night feeding and it just came to me,” Gillespie says of her ‘aha moment’ that led her to create the JetNote app. “I googled how to make an app and the next morning I started working with a company out of Miami on my idea.”
A home-based agent with Vision Travel, Gillespie says her JetNote app is designed to benefit travellers and agents alike. “As an agent, I have lost count at how many times the client says they don’t remember the last hotel they stayed in or what that tour was called. With this app being so quick and easy it can help with that and also with helping to remember to get that Russian visa!”
Users enter their travel details into the JetNote app, select a theme (cruising, beach and so on), and dates. At the end of each day users are asked a question to help them create a quick and easy journal. On the app users can find a helpful reminders list, packing list, freeform journal, photo uploads and more.
Sphere got in touch with Gillespie to talk about JetNote, her work as a home-based agent and more.
Sphere: How did you get started as a travel agent?
Gillespie: “I graduated with a Travel & Tourism Management diploma from Medicine Hat College and shortly after I started working at Marlin Travel in 2001. We are now Vision Travel. I worked full-time in the office until 2016. After the birth of my third son, I decided to work from home. It is great to have a supportive company that caters to moms/families.”
Sphere: Do you specialize?
Gillespie: “My colleagues would say I specialize in anything and everything Disney. In addition to that, I love creating custom itineraries all over the world.”
Sphere: What do you love most about being a home-based agent, and what are the challenges?
Gillespie: “I love that I can now go on field trips with my sons’ school, sign them up for those programs that are during the week. Basically, be an active/present mother. I have amazing clients/colleagues who have made this an incredibly easy transition.
“As an agent it has also allowed me to focus more and better serve the clients that I have. I have learned that nap times are never long enough!”
Sphere: Can you tell us more about JetNote?
Gillespie: “JetNote is a travel journal with a twist – or, as we like to call it, your Travel Memory Companion. You simply input your travel dates, location, and choose a travel theme – for example: family time, theme park thrills, cruising, exploring our world, and escape to the beach. At the end of each day while on your trip you will be asked a question based on your chosen theme, like, “Did you try something new today?” or “What was your favourite ride of the day?” You simply answer the question and upload a photo to save your entry. There is also a freeform journal section, where you can add additional memories. In addition, before you leave, there is a packing list and a reminders list. This is a great feature for remembering those final payments, visa application deadlines, etc.”
Sphere: Did you know anything about developing apps when you started?
Gillespie: “Not a thing!! I have always had an interest in technology but not much knowledge on how it was developed. Thankfully the developers took my idea and made it a reality. It was an amazing process, I have learnt and still am learning so much.”
Sphere: What’s been the reaction to JetNote – from your clients, other travellers and also from fellow travel agents?
Gillespie: “Right from the start colleagues loved the idea. Their feedback/encouragement helped to develop the app into what it is today. I take their opinions in high regard and this app was very much developed from a travel agent standpoint.
“The reaction from clients and fellow travellers has been great. Many have reached out saying they love the idea and can’t wait to use it on their next adventure.”
Sphere: Can agents download JetNote for their clients?
Gillespie: “JetNote is currently available for anyone to download from the App Store. A free 3-day trial is included with the download to try out all the premium features. We hope to release onto the Android platform soon.”
Sphere: Have you had to scale back on your travel agent work as you developed the app?
Gillespie: “JetNote has proven to be a full-time job but I am trying my best to juggle my clients and the app development/marketing. I love being a travel agent and love my clients so I would prefer not to give that up.”
Sphere: What’s next for you now that JetNote has launched?
Gillespie: “I have a vision for JetNote and the current version is just the beginning. Currently we are in the process of launching an update for an improved ‘Completed Trips’ section. After that is complete, I will return my focus to marketing and getting this into travellers’ hands all over the world.”