WINNIPEG — A travel advisor must often wear many hats, from ticketing agent, financial advisor and life coach, to entrepreneur, concierge and, in Cindy Gaudet’s case, military personnel?
It’s true. When the Winnipeg-based COO of Fareconnect.com first began her career as a travel agent nearly 20 years ago, she was also serving full time in the Canadian Air Force. But Gaudet, a mother of four, had always dreamed of travelling the world with her family, something that proved to be very difficult with a limited vacation budget.
So when she heard about a co-worker making some extra money as a travel agent, Gaudet jumped at the chance. In 2006, after returning to Canada from an overseas deployment, she began researching on how to become an independent travel agent and, before she knew it, set forth on a new career path.
“It was the best decision I had ever made,” she tells Travelweek. “My new part-time job started to grow really fast.”
So fast, in fact, that Gaudet couldn’t keep up with business and her work-life balance suffered as a result. While still working full-time in the military, Gaudet eventually found herself at a crossroads: should she quit her side job in travel and stay on course in the Canadian Air Force?
“I made the decision in 2012 to leave the Air Force and take on travel full time,” says Gaudet. “Since then, I have seen over 30 countries with my husband, Rick, who owns Fareconnect.com. We strive every day to grow our host agency.”
Gaudet and her husband are particularly proud of the fact that their agency is veteran-friendly, employing several travel advisors who have retired from the military.
When asked what her fondest memory has been in her travel career, Gaudet says there are too many to count. But she holds every trip that she takes dear to her heart, whether it’s a work-related trip to meet with suppliers and travel advisors, or a strictly non-working holiday.
“One trip, however, stands out among all others,” she recalls. “Rick and I spent our 30th wedding anniversary on a Seabourn cruise in 2021 with only 68 passengers on board. Shane Buksh, Seabourn’s Director of National Accounts-North America, arranged a wonderful surprise for us, gathering most of the passengers in the theatre to watch a heartfelt video sent to us from our children back home, wishing us a happy anniversary. The tears were flowing! We felt like royalty during the entire cruise, and we got to spend it with our close friends who are also in the industry. It’s a memory I’ll cherish every day.”
As part of Travelweek’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2023, travel advisors across Canada are sharing their industry memories with Travelweek readers. To share your memories, contact Deputy Editor Cindy Sosroutomo at email@example.com.