By Kim Hutchison
If you’re looking to escape the blistery winter weather to relax in a tropical paradise or if you’re simply wanting to head to Banff or Jasper after a hard week of work, travel agents are the people who can help turn our fantasies into a reality.
While some provinces require travel agents to be certified, Alberta is not one of them. In fact, there are currently only 126 certified travel counselors in the entire province and Julie Evans of Julie’s Travel in Ponoka is now one of them.
After heading to Edmonton to write a five and a half hour examination that included needing to know everything there is to know about airfare, all inclusive packages and world geography to name a few topics of the many she studied, her hard work and dedication has paid off. Evans received her certificate stating she successfully completed, with honours, the advanced level requirements of the Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors and has achieved industry certification in the profession of Travel Counsellor.
One needs experience and courses in order to qualify to write the examination and Evans, who has been operating Julie’s Travel for almost four years and has been involved in this field for almost 19 years, has it all.
“I decided to do this to better myself so I can be the best travel agent I can be. With this certification I can be recognized as a professional agent, as someone who is experienced, knowledgeable and credible,” said Evans. “I want to let people know that they don’t have to go to Red Deer or Edmonton. They can get what they need right here in Ponoka,” she said.
On top of her most recent achievement, this is the third year in a row she has received the Gold Award for Highest Sales in a category of 140 Newwest travel agents from Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon. Also, having completed courses and toured ships, she is a Certified Cruise Counselor and, having visited every Sandals property in the Caribbean except for three, she is a Certified Sandals Specialist and has earned, also for the third year in a row, the Fun Sun Gold Highest Sales Award of all Newwest travel agents.
Having been to 53 countries in total, her travel experiences help her clients get the most out of theirs.
“I am so passionate about what I do. I truly love my job. I travel as much as I can to as many place as possible so I can give advice to clients. I also subscribe to magazines to get the latest information on ‘up and coming’ destinations, attend lots of trade shows, meet sales reps and I’m always going to courses so I know what I’m talking about,” she said. “Every trip is special to the individual booking it. Two nights in Jasper is just as important as two nights in India. Nothing is too big or too small to take on and I put everything I can into it,” she said. “People have the notion that it is easier to find what they are looking for on the Internet. I can always give them what’s on the Internet or better. When I beat the Internet people are surprised and we’re all pretty happy about it.”
Next, Evans plans to gain higher recognition by writing an exam that will make her a Certified Travel Manager.
Consultations with Julie are available for no fee. She can be reached by phone at (403) 704-3584 or by e-mail at email@example.com.