Looking to plan a corporate event, organize a destination wedding or customize an African Safari? Aldershot Travel is here to help and they have been since 1977. We sat down with Barb Pekrul, owner of Aldershot Travel, to discuss everything from her passion for travel, her in depth knowledge and what a dream vacation might look like. The world is waiting and Aldershot Travel can get you there.
Q: TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO THIS BUSINESS.
I was a stay at home mom with a son and daughter, which I loved, however once they started school, I wanted to get back into the working world. My husband and myself loved to travel so I thought that if I am going back to work, why not do something that I could be passionate about! Little did I know that we would own a travel agency!
Q: YOU ARE THE ONE STOP FOR ALL THINGS TRAVEL. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO BOOK A TRIP?
I recommend coming into the office to meet with an agent and build a repour. Next, I suggest make sure you have an honest budget in mind. Give the agent as much information as possible about your wants/needs and let them know about any past travelling you’ve done so they can make recommendations based on past experiences and get a feel for your likes and dislikes. Don’t go to a number of agencies to see if you can save a few dollars, as agencies work with such low margins, so the days of “big discounts” are a thing of the past.
Q: WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
Between Rosie and I, we have over 50 years of combined experience in the business. We are still in the business because we love what we do! With today’s technology, you can research everything online, however you can’t replace experience. Being a small agency in the community allows us to get to know our clients. When you start with an agent, you work with that same agent throughout the process. You don’t have to worry that you will be dealing with a number of people in the agency.
There are so many options available that it can be overwhelming to a lot of people. We work with many suppliers to ensure that our clients’ needs are met. Travel is not “one shoe fits all,” so choosing the right property or cruise line is key. We do our best to match our clients with the right product. A happy client is a repeat client! Being able to walk into our agency and get one-on-one with Rosie or myself is very comforting to many of our clients. Especially for those clients that are new to our agency or to travel.
Our job can be very challenging at times, however when a client comes back and tells us it was the trip of a lifetime we know we did our job! We have many repeat clients and that speaks volumes. Some of our clients have our personal cell phone numbers which is not the norm in a retail agency. We go that extra mile for every client!
Q: YOU OFFER A WIDE VARIETY OF SERVICES FROM DESTINATION WEDDINGS TO PRIVATE GROUP TOURS. WHERE IS THE MOST POPULAR DESTINATION THAT PEOPLE TRAVEL TO AND WHY?
The most popular destination would be the Caribbean Islands. Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are the favorites for the majority of our Destination Wedding and corporate groups. Most wedding groups we work with try to keep the costs down for their guests, so the Caribbean is the natural choice.
Q: ALDERSHOT TRAVEL HAS BEEN OPERATING SINCE 1977. WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO BEING A SUCCESSFUL TRAVEL AGENCY?
Aldershot Travel has been in business since 1977. We purchased the agency from its previous owner in 2000 when she retired from the industry. Throughout the years, we have been through the ups and downs of the industry and at times it has been challenging. I think that being stubborn and passionate has kept us going. To quote Heraclitus, “the only thing that is constant is change.” This is so true of our industry! We strive to provide excellent service to our clients. Most people don’t realize how important it is to have a good agent until something goes wrong.
Q: WHERE ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO TRAVEL IN CANADA?
I have travelled to British Columbia, Alberta, Yellowknife, Quebec, Halifax, St. Johns Newfoundland, Ontario and they all offer different experiences. My favorite experience would have to be Yellowknife where we went dog sledding and saw the Aurora lights. This was an unforgettable experience!
Q: FOR SOMEONE WHO ISN’T SURE OF WHERE THEY WANT TO TRAVEL, WHAT DO YOU DO TO HELP THEM?
This is a tricky one! Most clients that contact us have some idea as to where they want to travel. They may not know the exact destination; however they usually have a specific area in mind. For new clients, we ask a lot of questions that will help to narrow down the choices. Budget is a major factor. For our clients that have dealt with us for years it’s a bit easier because we know their travel habits and can steer them in the right direction.
Q: IF I WAS LOOKING TO TRAVEL SOMEWHERE OFF THE BEATEN PATH, WHAT DESTINATIONS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND
Galapagos is a destination that would be off the beaten track. It’s a destination for those that enjoy the outdoors and is becoming very popular.
Q: IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT, WHAT DESTINATIONS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND? HOW WOULD YOU “WOW” ME?
There are so many great destinations available for those with unlimited funds. From world cruises that can cost up to $500,000 or a vacation in a tropical destination. Another destination that I would recommend is the Maldives, which is located in the Indian Ocean. It has some of the most spectacular beaches that have white powder sand and blue water. A private villa with Butler, cook would be a must. The prices of the villas vary and can go up to $35,000 per night.
Q: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR ALDERSHOT TRAVEL?
We have been a part of Aldershot for many years and we will continue to grow our business. We look forward to servicing our clients for many years to come. We are in the process of updating our web site so stay tuned!