Posters and displays showing sandy beaches and exotic destinations in the All-About Travel office are sure to get visitors’ feet itching to travel.
Owner Charlene Junkin and three staff members help plan trips within Canada and around the world from their cozy second-floor office in Sanford.
Junkin opened her business about 16 years ago after deciding to leave an accounting job with Great-West Life. She said she was helping her husband run his businesses and also juggling the needs of their four children.
After buying a travel franchise that included a short training course, Junkin set up shop in her basement.
"I’ve always loved travel. It’s in my genes," she said, adding that one of her grandfathers was a world traveller, while the other worked as an accountant.
Initially amazed at the amount of knowledge required to work as a travel agent, she was pleased when another Sanford resident, Leanna Thompson-Cuddy, brought her years of travel service experience into the business.
"She’s been a gem," said Junkin.
Shortly after that, they relocated to their current site on Sanford’s Railway Avenue. Sue Herkert, who specializes in planning vacations in Mexico, Florida, Hawaii and Jamaica, and Connie Torossi, the company’s Disney vacation expert, joined All-About Travel.
Much of their business is conducted online and by phone, but they welcome any customers who want to come by and discuss travel options.
While the trend for travellers seems to be booking their own flights and accommodations, Junkin said by doing so, people aren’t guaranteed to save money. All-About Travel’s website includes an online booking system, but the agents are able to customize customers’ travel schedules.
"They know that we offer a service that they can’t get through just online booking," Junkin said.
And if anything goes wrong during a trip, she and her staff are ready to help even if a traveller is stuck on the other side of the world.
She added that they recently assisted customers whose flights from Bangkok were cancelled.
Although package tours are still quite popular, many of today’s travellers want to plan their own itineraries and experience a personal adventure. By having international resources, contacts and personal expertise, the company’s staff are able to put together specialized travel plans.
"It can be complicated, but interesting," said Junkin.
Junkin said destination weddings are popular and can be less expensive than holding a large wedding close to home. Many resorts have wedding co-ordinators to help at the destination.
The best advertising for the company comes from satisfied customers who tell family and friends about their great vacations. "Word-of-mouth, more than anything, is how the business grows and develops."