Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
In St. John’s, Newfoundland, Travel Time TPI’s Lois Barbour has grown a formidable travel agency that is competing with the best in the world.
Barbour’s agency was among the honourees at the annual Sandals Travel Agency Recognition (S.T.A.R.) Awards, with the ‘Best of the Best’ award recognizing excellence in sales and marketing. A total of 300 travel agents and companions from Canada, the U.S. and Latin America attended the latest S.T.A.R. Awards event last month, with a getaway capped by a gala ceremony at the recently reopened Beaches Turks & Caicos.
Barbour was also named once again to the exclusive Chairman’s Royal Club, an honour reserved for the world’s top performing agents and one that she has received each year since the program was implemented in 2011. She is the only agent in Newfoundland to ever receive this honour and one of only three in Canada for 2017.
Sphere profiled Barbour as part of its Industry Experts series in 2016. “I purchased a franchise with Travel Professionals Intl (TPI) in 2005 and built my business over the first five years to the point that I decided to take an early retirement from my 25-year nursing career to focus on it full-time. In the first couple of years I had destination wedding inquiries from nursing colleagues, and did them successfully, and found that I quite liked it!”
More than 75% of Barbour’s business is destination weddings and she gets inquiries from across Canada and even the U.S.
Travel Time TPI now has eight outside agents and an office administrator.
“We started to travel as a family when our daughter was two years old,” says Barbour. “She is 30 now and along with our two sons who are now in their 20s, we still look back at those travel memories as some of the best times our family spent together while they were growing up.”
Barbour says she recommends Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts because the quality is top-level, every time. “What I love about the brand is that it offers consistency throughout, so you know that you will get high level of customer service in every resort. And the food is always amazing.”
She adds: “There is a direct benefit to our customers when we receive awards such as these. Being part of the inner circle allows us to advocate for our clients with the very top people from the Sandals brand. We are asked for ideas to improve the brand and we’ve seen our input make a real difference.”
She mentions free WiFi, now offered at Sandals Resorts, as one idea that she pushed based on feedback from her clients.
“We are very proud of all of our agents who work hard to give their customers the very best service and travel experiences,” says TPI CEO Zeina Gedeon. “Lois is a wonderful example of the level of excellence our TPI agents provide to their clients all across Canada.”