Shannon Smith has worked in travel her whole life.
Growing up in a "teeny tiny small town called Hickson (where her and her husband reside today), Smith says her love of travel was ignited when she used to babysit for a well-known travel consultant, Kim McLaren.
"I always loved hearing her stories about travel, and her adventures. I decided to study travel and tourism at Fanshawe College because of her! I wouldn't have it any other way," Smith recalls.
Upon snagging that college degree, Smith dove headfirst into the industry, starting out as a cultural representative for Canada at Walt Disney World.
Now, she works as the director of sales for TravelBrands, a company she's been with since 2011.
"I work with the sales team to make sure they have all the tools they need to sell and promote TravelBrands to our wonderful partners," Smith said. "I also work hands on with our partners, while getting to be creative. That is definitely one of the best things about this position; making sure our partners are set up for success and having the ability to think outside the box to make it happen for them."
Here, PAX checks in with Smith about the accidental cruise cocktail, a $500 purchase she only paid $80 for, and who she's most excited to go home to at the end of a trip (just don't tell her husband)!
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Shannon Smith (SS): Cell phone, ginger gravol, and hand sanitizer.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
SS: My husband and I love Jamaica – it’s kind of like our “home away from home” We have been to many places, but the people, culture food and vibe always take us back!
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
SS: YYZ airport – I love travel and am blessed to be able to a lot of it, however when I land in YYZ I feel that sense of security as well as the excitement that I get to go home to see my fur baby Vada, our beautiful golden lab (shhh, don’t tell my husband)!
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
SS: I love my company and the crew we have working at TravelBrands, they make the day to day a lot of fun, and everyone supports one another. We really are a big family. I have met a lot of great people in this industry and they are some of the most kind and caring people I have come across. It is truly amazing how we can all support one another’s accomplishments and achievements.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
SS: Growing up, we never travelled outside of the country as a family. We spent a week or two every summer in Wasaga Beach at Devlin’s cottages. I have travelled the world, but I have to say that my favourite memories always revert back to these childhood vacations as a family.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
SS: I don’t usually splurge. However, I did have a fun experience in Egypt and learnt the art form of bartering, which my husband will tell you I am not good at.
I had the help of our local tour guide, as I wanted to buy a hookah to bring home as a decorative piece for my dining room. After a lot of back and forth, walking away three times, and a lot of hand gestures between the shop owner and the local guide – I got the piece I wanted which started at $500 USD for a deal at $80 USD! Being in sales, I joke that I really paid for the experience and excitement of the deal!
PAX: What was the most memorable meal you ever ate and where did you eat it?
SS: This was in Egypt, and I ate pigeon. I was having a traditional lunch with our local H.I.S. general manager, and he ordered everything for me to try and get the authentic Egyptian experience.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
SS: It always surprises me when people complain about the lines and waiting – like it is something they never would have expected to happen…in an airport….with thousands of travellers, it drives me crazy!
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
SS: I have a really really good memory! Trust me, it can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. I can even recall down to the timeframe or date that an email was sent, or when an event happened. My friends and colleagues are always so shocked when I remember things from years and years ago – especially if it is something they are trying to forget!
PAX: When flying: window shade up or down?
SS: Shade down – I always try to sleep.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
SS: My husband and I were doing our first cruise on the Mediterranean, sailing between Spain and Tunisia on the MSC Sinfonia. I had won the cruise when I was a retail agent, so we were making sure to take full advantage of the experience.
The waters were a little rough, okay, a lot rough, and my husband and I were not prepared for it at all. This lovely couple we met helped us out and gave us some Gravol for the motion sickness. However, as both my husband and I were much younger, and really inexperienced, we had a drink before taking the Gravol. Needless to say that the motion sickness went away, because we slept off and on for almost 24 hours. This is why I never leave home without my ginger gravol!
PAX: What are a few things travel agents should know regarding TravelBrands right now?
SS: TravelBrands always has something on the go. We are working on some exciting new things that will be unveiled at our agent shows in the spring, and if I tell you then no one will attend our shows, so stay tuned! Dates and locations will be released shortly, and remember, TravelBrands always has a “show stopper” of an event.
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