Talia May

Talia May, Director, Marketing & Operations, Gateways International Tailor-made Tours

Talia MayGateways International Tailor-made Tours celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, a milestone achievement in an industry that has seen its fair share of fads and passing trends. We sit down with Talia May, the company’s Director of Marketing & Operations, to discuss why Gateways is the success story that it is and just how far it has come.


1. Gateways is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Can you tell us a little about how the company started, and how much it’s grown since then?

Gateways International Tailor-made Tours was launched in 1986 as a niche wholesale operation specializing in South America and based in Markham, Ontario. Elie Abitbol, our founder, had a long history in the airline industry and with his extraordinary relationship skills, took advantage of every opportunity to teach travel agents across Canada about Gateways International’s products and exotic destinations.

Today, Gateways International Tailor-made Tours offers packages to over 50 countries, including Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Central and South America.

2. What would you attribute your success to?

Although there are many factors that make a business in this complex industry successful, the most important have been the relationships we have built with our valued travel agent partners since day one. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We don’t take anyone for granted, offering competitive commissions and excellent service.

Our incredibly talented specialists, which are truly more like a family, continue to offer personalized service by understanding the client’s needs and building high-quality itineraries to suit specific travel dates and budgets.

3. Over the course of 30 years, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned with regards to selling travel?

In any good relationship, listening is key. At Gateways International, we take the time to listen and also challenge, based on the client’s request. Although daunting, it is important that everyone in the travel industry not be afraid to ask about their client’s budget or to tell them how to improve their travel plans. This encourages a level of trust and respect, which keeps them coming back.

Travel is an appreciable investment in time and money and we want to make sure we get it right. That helps our agents keep their clients and is the key to the thousands of repeat passengers we have over the years. The bottom line is that each quotation is handled with care – we really do care.

4. What’s hot for 2016?

Demand for Europe and Latin America was once quite seasonal, however, we see passengers interested in travelling to both regions all year round.

Iceland is very popular for both individuals and groups, driving requests for their winter’s Northern Lights and their summer’s Midnight Sun. Iceland’s ever-changing landscapes, nature and serenity are perfect for a quick retreat with friends or an extended adventure. Flexible stopovers with our partner, Icelandair, make it easier than ever to visit. Shared and private tours, customized self-drives and extensions to Greenland are all possible.

Bucket list items are always popular and South America is chock-full of them. Whether travellers are interested in completing the Inca Trail, discovering the mysterious Moai at Easter Island, Blue-footed Boobies in the Galapagos, or simply watching the sunrise at Machu Picchu, our team loves to customize tailored itineraries to include one or a whole selection of incredible experiences for groups and individuals.

5. What’s new for Gateways in 2016 and beyond?

At Gateways International, we are proud leaders, introducing fresh and unique experiences to the Canadian market. We never get too comfortable with a specific hotel, for example, as destinations evolve, neighbourhoods change and more importantly, new doesn’t always mean better. We travel constantly, personally exploring and inquiring to help our travel agent partners truly make their client’ travel dreams a reality.

Stay tuned in the coming months for our 2017 Latin America brochure.

For inquiries, contact our specialists at 1-800-268-0900, Monday-Friday from 9-6 p.m. EST, or online at gateways-international.com.