Why it took one agent 20 years to attend a fam and what she finally learned
Rick and Cindy Gaudet (centre) at Iberostar Selection Paraíso Maya Suites

Why it took one agent 20 years to attend a fam and what she finally learned

TORONTO — Whether you call it tunnel vision or fierce ambition, Cindy Gaudet was always hell-bent on growing her business and making a success out of her travel agency.

As a home-based agent in the early 2000s, Gaudet knew that switching from a host agency in the U.S. to one in Canada would better serve her burgeoning business. Her research eventually led her to Fareconnect, which was based in Medicine Hat and offered the opportunity for Gaudet and her husband Rick to purchase area rights in Alberta. So the couple joined and became area owners in 2010.

Why it took one agent 20 years to attend a fam and what she finally learned

Fareconnect agents while on a golf experience at Iberostar Selection Paraíso Maya Suites

Just two years later, Rick was recruited to take over the company as CEO. Since then, the couple has helped the company grow to a staff of seven and over 400 Independent Consultants, moving its head office to Winnipeg and joining the ownership group as a majority owner. 

As COO, Gaudet has truly been invested in the business as well as the success of their ICs, often times giving away coveted spots on fams to new agents as a way to foster their growth. Before she knew it, 20 years passed without a single fam under her belt, a rare occurrence for any agent veteran.

“As with any new business, you’re always focused on growth. I just never thought I had the time to get away, even for a fam. And as the business grew, I always gave any fam slots to our newer agents to give them more experience and to help their own business grow,” she tells Travelweek. 

But the perfect opportunity for her first fam finally came last month with an exclusive invitation from IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts for Fareconnect agents. Taking place May 15-20, 2023, the five-night fam to Iberostar Selection Paraíso Maya Suites in Riviera Maya, Mexico was simply too good for Gaudet to pass up. So she packed her bags and embarked on her very first fam, 20 years after first entering the travel industry.

“This fam was a Fareconnect exclusive so I felt it was a great opportunity to see the Iberostar resorts in Cancun while meeting a lot of Fareconnect agents in person for the first time,” she says. 

A total of 20 Fareconnect travel advisors from across Canada spent five days listening to presentations from property sales managers, meeting with on-site wedding coordinators and conducting site inspections of the Paraíso complex, home to five top-notch resorts. But there was also plenty of time for sun and fun, too, including a mixology demonstration, a special golf experience, a farewell dinner on the beach, and lounging along the complex’s lazy river and testing out heart-pumping waterslides.

“It was an exceptional way to send agents back to Canada with full confidence to sell any Iberostar property,” says Gaudet, adding that it was “heartwarming” to see them bond firsthand and develop relationships with Iberostar’s BDMs, something she says is invaluable to the company’s overall sales.

As for what she learned on her first-ever fam, Gaudet says the experience was eye opening.

“I now truly see the importance and value all agents can gain from fams. I was really surprised by what I learned about the resorts and our supplier’s offerings. I always knew that experiencing the product firsthand is the best way to understand it, but I took away a lot more from the experience than I ever expected,” she says. 

So would she go on another one, making fams a regular occurrence on her busy schedule?

“We always encourage agents to try and attend or apply for as many fam opportunities as they can,” says Gaudet. “I’m going to listen to my own advice and do the same. So yes, I will absolutely go on another fam!”

This article is the third article in a three-part series about fams. To read how travel agents would improve fams, click here. To read suppliers’ responses, click here

Got a story idea? Reach out to Deputy Editor Cindy Sosroutomo at cindys@travelweek.ca.

Why it took one agent 20 years to attend a fam and what she finally learned

Rick and Cindy Gaudet (centre) at Iberostar Selection Paraíso Maya Suites

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