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Saturday,  May 25, 2024 1:15 PM 

#ThrowbackThursday with Coralie Belman

  • Air
  •   03-13-2015  8:55 am

#ThrowbackThursday with Coralie Belman

My parents always used to say that the two things you could be certain about in life were death and taxes. But I would like to add to that the notion that there will always be something interesting yet challenging taking place in the travel industry as well. As an industry veteran, it is funny to get together at times and laugh about how much change we have experienced. During my 20-plus years with the trade association CITC, I was very involved with putting together and facilitating a variety of training programs. Two incidents regarding specific programs have always stood out in my mind as reminders that you just never know what will happen.

Incident One was putting together a training program with noted industry trainer Steve Crowhurst. We had been working tirelessly on a cross-country program about commission drops, specifically airline commission and the need to implement service fees. The cover of our training program workbook featured a plane taking a nose dive downward in front of a cityscape. At the time, it seemed quite cute - until the day before the first delivery was to take place. I was working from a home office when I received this call from Steve that the flights out of Vancouver had been cancelled and so he wasn’t going to be able to get to the seminar location. I remember thinking, “Well, how stupid is that” and to give me an hour and I would get him out another way. I ran upstairs and popped the TV on to try and find out what was going on, and yes you guessed it, that was 9/11. Planes were grounded across North American air space. All the workbooks for our program had been shipped across Canada so I called the local coordinators and told them to rip off the front covers when the program finally ran; it somehow didn’t seem appropriate to show a scene like that on a cover. That one incident resulted in so many protocols that would change the future of travel as we knew it.

The second incident involved the implementation of e-ticketing with Air Canada specifically. The negativity we received from travel agents across the country with this implementation was incredible. Our instructors were hired to teach and explain the new process but spent a lot of class time trying to defend the airline position regarding implementation. As an office person not working with it, I was truly amazed at how much antagonism there was towards the airline for this introduction – and today it is so commonplace it seems weird to actually need a paper ticket for anything these days. For the most part, our instructors were there at the seminar locations representing both CITC and Air Canada, but there was not always an Air Canada rep present at the seminars. One evening an instructor happened to wear a red blazer to the program – and that set off even more frustration and antagonism directed at her specifically … because at the time we had not considered that part of the uniform of Air Canada was a red blazer. That next morning I called everyone to suggest that while retaining a professional look, perhaps they should avoid any colours that might make them appear to be an airline employee. If I recall, I think the instructor said she threw the blazer out!

And that’s what I mean; we make hundreds of decisions regarding travel every day and you just never know what the outcome may be from one of them. For the most part our decisions turn out well but every once in a while, they get the better of us. And you know – at the time I owned a red blazer too and I never wore it again either. And I have never again put an airplane on the front cover of a workbook.