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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Name: Teodor Mihail
Business: Unravel World Travel
Where do you live? Mississauga, ON
How long have you been a travel advisor? 15 years. Commencing my career in 2009 after graduating from Seneca College, I diligently used all my skills and travel experience to bring the world to travellers! Recognizing my potential for growth, I then followed my dream and began Unravel World Travel.
What is your specialty?
All-inclusive vacations, guided tours to all seven continents, destination weddings, honeymoons, flight and hotel packages, ocean and river cruises, as well as customized vacations. At Unravel World Travel, we like to say that if you can dream it, we can make it happen!
Your travel business is celebrating ten years. How does it feel to reach that milestone?
Reflecting on the past decade, I am truly amazed and humbled by the milestones and recognitions that Unravel World Travel has grown through. The journey has been marked by growth, lessons, and a commitment to showcasing the world as a stage for travellers. The celebration extends to valued clients, suppliers, the staff at Centre Holidays’ head office, and fellow travel agents. A heartfelt thank you is extended to my supportive wife who continues to believe and support Unravel World Travel and all it is. Looking ahead, the focus remains on crafting exceptional itineraries with care, anticipating greater opportunities to serve, and a continued dedication to leading Unravel World Travel with passion and genuine love for travel.
How has your business grown over the past decade?
My travel agency, originally Inspiring World Voyages, has undergone significant growth and transformation. Initially focused on flights and all-inclusive packages, the agency prioritized client satisfaction, leading to organic growth through word-of-mouth referrals. My expertise was enhanced through FAM trips, courses on destinations and suppliers, and participation in industry events. In 2021, the company rebranded to Unravel World Travel, which brought a modern identity, symbolized by the "U" in the logo representing “you” (the clients) at the heart of the world as your endless destination. Our mission is to help clients unravel their world through travel, emphasizing inspiration and travelling with confidence. Unravel World Travel expanded its reach with a Travel Blog, featuring destinations visited, and a Travel Inspiration section offering tips for unmatched experiences.
In 2022, Unravel World Travel was awarded the Circle of Excellence Platinum Award by Centre Holidays, in recognition of our commitment to excellence and the dedication provided to our travellers.
What inspired you to become a travel advisor?
My initial exposure to travel occurred at the age of 11 after taking my first trip with my parents. Upon returning, I wanted to continue travelling – mainly for the fun plane rides. Three years later, we were planning a trip to Austria and I assumed the responsibility of researching tourist attractions and putting together an itinerary for the entire trip. It was then that my genuine interest in travel became apparent.
What’s the first trip you ever took?
Paris, Barcelona and back home to Romania in 2000, six years after immigrating to Canada.
What travel trends are you seeing these days?
Diverse booking patterns, with a shift towards more exotic and luxurious destinations. There's a growing preference for room upgrades, such as Oceanfront or VIP Club rooms, and elevated experiences. Travellers are willing to invest more in inclusive packages, particularly for customized vacations to Europe and Asia, including pre-arranged accommodations, excursions, and transfers. Notably, more people are booking trips well in advance, with an increasing number of travellers taking advantage of early booking incentives.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of?
A client wanted to plan a round-the-world trip. She told me all the places she was thinking about, and asked if I could book her flights and recommend her activities in each country. I mentioned to her that I could do that, and much more. I took care of not only the flights, but all the land arrangements as well. As part of my dedication to care and service, I also advised her of top travel tips for her destinations, coming from knowledge and personal travel experience. She ended up traveling to Taipei, Bali, Thailand, Singapore, Istanbul and Romania. I booked her a villa and excursions in Bali, a guided tour in Thailand, accommodations in the remaining destinations, as well as transfers in all the destinations, making her travel dreams come true!
What’s the most memorable trip you ever took?
I must attribute that to my 2016 Contiki Tour in Japan. Until then, with the exception of a trip to Dubai, my travels had predominantly encompassed North America, the Caribbean and Europe. In 2016, I told myself that I had seen enough beaches and historic cobblestone streets, and elected to embark on a culturally-enriching adventure with Contiki in Japan. Upon arrival in Tokyo, it became immediately apparent that this experience would be different than what I was used to. The divergence in customs, culture, scenery and sights were unlike anything I had ever experienced. The exploration of ancient temples, accompanied by insightful narratives from the tour guide, an overnight stay in a Buddhist Guesthouse, and the immersive indulgence in local cuisine made me want to further explore Asia. Over the subsequent three years, I visited Asia to further experience the cultures, histories and cuisines that comprise this dynamic region.
Where do you see your business one year from now?
Unravel World Travel will diversify its product offerings by including more upscale options such as cruises and guided tours, and expand into new specialties like destination weddings and honeymoons. Strengthening partnerships with renowned tour operators and hotel brands, alongside increased marketing efforts, particularly through event participation, are key strategies to enhancing brand visibility and reaching a wider audience. The goal is to thrive as a top choice for travellers seeking exceptional and diverse travel experiences.
What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry?
The customer service given by the airlines. While things do tend to go unexpectedly during travel, I find that there is next to no customer service at airports or on board flights. I certainly understand that airport employees, flight attendants and pilots work unfavourable shifts, and many things that happen are beyond their control. However, airline policies tend to be very strict and when the travellers are not satisfied, unfortunately there seems to be no empathy towards how they feel. They simply imply the message that 2 + 2 = 4.
What’s the secret to being successful in this business?
Passionate engagement, effective networking and staying updated on industry changes by participating in events is the key to being successful. And a lesser-known secret: fostering strong relationships with other travel agents. Whether they are from within your host agency or beyond, these connections serve as a crucial support network. Collaboration is a lifelong venture filled with ample learning opportunities.
What is your motto?
Travel is the best education you can get. Some classrooms have four walls, others do not. Travelling is an education that allows you to rediscover yourself, see how much potential you have, and shows you what a beautiful and diverse place the world is.
What is your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?
Despite the prevalence of online travel platforms, the value of travel agents remains significant. While some travellers may conduct research independently, the majority prefer relying on dedicated travel professionals for a seamless and trustworthy experience.
Where are you travelling next?
I currently don’t have a trip booked yet, but hope to join Centre Holidays’ conference at sea onboard the Symphony of the Seas in December 2024. Until then, I will certainly keep on travelling as “to live is to travel and to travel is to live!”