Dufferin Christian School student and Chamber of Commerce intern Kiera Barendregt, Carman & Community Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nikki Bartley and Town of Carman/ RM of Dufferin Economic Development Officer Tyler King with Canada One travel agents Shannon Smith and CJ Piatkowski (seated).
Reprint from the Valley Leader, Thursday, February 2, 2017
Travel agents: CJ Piatkowski and Shannon Smith
Experience: CJ has 30 years of experience in travel agency
Why she loves it: “Your days are never the same. There’s always something different, something new, whether [the clients] are going on a cruise, on a train, needing NASCAR tickets in a little town we’ve never heard of - we can do all of this and putting it all together for people and making it work is very challenging and a lot of fun.”
How they describe their job: We are caretakers of travelers. That is our primary function.
Why travel? It expands your horizons, you get to witness other cultures, it takes you out of your home comfort zone to see how other people live - and then it’s always great to come home again,” said CJ.
What kind of travel they deal with: Corporate flights, vacation packages, coach tours, cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, etc. Worldwide clientele: The local travel agency serves people around Canada - and some clients worldwide - through word of mouth referrals
The advantages of using a travel agency: Peace of mind and stress free travel. “We are your computer, your phone line - your battery’s at 15%, you’re standing in the airport with no signal, you’re frustrated and you can’t get through -but you don’t have to sit on hold. We sit on hold. You go have a drink, Anything the client has in their possession, we have. Always.”
It’s all in the details: Anybody can book travel, they said, but it’s the details you might not even know you need to know that can cause issues.
Percentage of the job that is just trouble-shooting: 60%
When they’re available: 24/7 - the agents are full of stories of 3:00 am phone calls and weekend problem solving
Busiest times: Lately, weather and events like the Fort Lauderdale shooting have meant a lot more problem solving than usual for the travel agency
Favourite place to travel: Austria for CJ, because “the countryside is beautiful, the food is amazing, the people are friendly - so much to see and do. I’ve been twice and I’ve got to go again.”
Hidden gem: According to Shannon, “Croatia!” She says it is gorgeous with unbelievable beaches, chock-full of outdoor activities and with warm and friendly people who take pride in their country.
Travel tips: Take both electronic and paper documents with you, and try to make sure your social media privacy settings are set so that strangers can’t see your travel plans.
What people are surprised to learn about them: They can help with local travel, in province, as well as national and global travel.
Insurance: They offer travel insurance for those with pre-existing conditions.
Best thing about living and working in Carman: “I love the people in this town. They’re fantastic. There’s a loyalty, there’s a friendliness. They can ask you questions about work while you’re in the grocery store, you can ask them questions about lumber. It’s a reciprocal agreement, it’s nice,” said CJ. Shannon also said she loves the feeling of safety.
Carmen Blizzard Fest February 4th, 2017
Once again, Canada One Travel Carmen Office was one of the major sponsors of the Carmen Blizzard Fest, which was held on February 4th, 2017. This annual event attracted 500 attendees to this fun-filled family day to Carmen.
Carmen Office Travel Agent CJ Piatkowski wrote in her email,
"Blizzard Fest was a very successful day! We had people in the office throughout the event from about shortly after 1 pm until 5pm, pretty much nonstop. We had set up a seating area and had coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and bottled water set out. A lot of brochures went out of the office, and a lot of adults were asking questions about travel while their children/grandchildren were getting their water tattoos!"
Derek Doan, won the Grand Prize trip to New York, which was contributed by Canada One Travel.