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Saturday,  April 20, 2024 10:02 PM 

Monday Minute: Eleanor Bell of Direct Travel

  • Agency
  •   02-26-2024  12:11 pm
  •   Pax Global Media

Monday Minute: Eleanor Bell of Direct Travel
Ontario-based Eleanor Bell of Direct Travel, seen here in Scotland. (Supplied)
Pax Global Media

The Monday Minute is a regular feature in PAX that highlights the movers, shakers, leaders and rule breakers in Canada's travel advisor community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email newsroom@paxglobalmedia.com!


Name: Eleanor Bell

Business: Direct Travel

Where do you live? Georgetown, ON

How long have you been a travel advisor?

As of this past January, I have reached the milestone of completing my first year as a travel advisor.

What is your specialty? 

I have mostly been selling all-inclusive vacations, flights, and European FIT packages. Lately, I have been working to invest more time in the luxury adventure and sustainable travel sector.

What is your current state of mind?

I'm always excited about travelling, but this year I'm feeling inclined to mix things up a bit. I was in a bad car accident last October, and since then, my physical abilities have been significantly limited. Before, I could backpack solo, walk over 20,000 steps daily, and explore as many sights as I could. But that's not feasible now. Since my travel interests are mainly to exotic destinations, I've never prioritized an all-inclusive vacation or a cruise. I believe a relaxing getaway would be a welcome change.

What inspired you to become a travel advisor? 

As a solo traveler, I have enjoyed making connections with local communities and culture and creating once-in-a-lifetime memories. It was so infectious and gave me a new perspective on life – something I think everyone should experience. Motivated by the desire to curate these distinctive adventures for others, tailored to their bucket lists and travel aspirations, I found the role of a travel advisor to be the perfect fit.

What’s the first trip you ever took? 

On my 16th birthday, I went to France for a three-month exchange program. I stayed with a lovely host family in the western region of France, studied in a French school, travelled around the country, met new friends and caught the travel bug. The rest is history.

What travel trends are you seeing these days? 

I am finding a lot of people are making up for lost time during the pandemic and are using their accumulated savings to book bucket list trips. A lot of people are travelling with family, especially multi-generations. Of course, I still have clients still coming in looking for last-minute deals, unaware that prices and availability have skyrocketed post pandemic.

Eleanor climbs a jeep in Colombia. (Supplied)

How did the pandemic change the way you do business?

I graduated from my tourism college program in March of 2020. Nobody was travelling and there were certainly no travel jobs at that time. Starting my career fresh out of school was not an option. After not-so-patiently waiting, I started working as an advisor and basically had a fresh slate. Of course, I had to adapt to all the new rules and regulations, but I wasn’t trying to constantly figure out what the rules were today, compared to what they were yesterday, like other advisors. 

Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of? 

I take pride in every booking I make because I'm contributing to fulfilling my clients' travel aspirations. Whether it's arranging their dream vacation or booking a flight for a special occasion like a wedding or a long-awaited reunion with friends and family after years apart, each booking holds significance to me. It's challenging to single out just one memorable booking.

What’s the most memorable trip you ever took?

During the pandemic, I backpacked independently around Costa Rica and Colombia and it was the most eye-opening experience of my life. During those two months, I underwent personal growth, discovering newfound independence and experiencing a sense of liberation. Being immersed in an environment that prioritized nature, wildlife, and sustainability impacted my perspective on the world and sparked inspiration within me.

Where do you see your career one year from now?

Throughout 2023, I enjoyed every opportunity to engage in industry networking. Being at the early stages of my career, establishing connections with fellow advisors, suppliers, and mentors proved to be highly beneficial. My primary focus this year will be on professional development. I aim to enroll in additional courses to acquire new skills and elevate my expertise.

What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry? 

I hope there's more focus on enhancing and prioritizing sustainability initiatives within the travel industry. Recently, while selecting seats online for a client, I noticed an option to donate towards the airline's sustainability efforts. It struck me as odd that a multibillion-dollar company would rely on customer donations for such initiatives, rather than taking significant action themselves. Prioritizing sustainability as a travel supplier should not be marketed as a unique selling point. Rather, it should be considered a fundamental standard of practice.

What’s the secret to being successful in this business?  

Having grown up in Georgetown, Ontario, and now working here full-time, I've always recognized the tight-knit nature of this small town where everyone seems to know each other. As I acquire clientele from this area, I understand the importance of discovering relatable connections to establish trust. While being knowledgeable is undoubtedly important, in a community where word of mouth reigns supreme, building strong relationships is of utmost importance. 

What is your motto? 

The quote "Adventure is out there" originates from the Disney Pixar movie "Up," and it has been a motto I've embraced since I was a kid. 

What's your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?

I would say not to be afraid of charging service fees. Initially, I was hesitant on the idea of charging fees, fearing it might deter potential clients, especially considering my newness in the field. However, I've learned that the right clients who recognize your value will be willing to pay for your services.

Where are you travelling next? 

Greece and Turkey this July on the new Oceania Vista ship for a 10-day cruise. This will be the first time I have ever travelled with a friend and I could not be more excited. Turkey has been at the top of my bucket list for the last few years!


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