Contests & Winners / Travel Advisor Appreciation Month Winners
Congratulations to our SEVEN winners!
For the entire month of May, we at WheelsUpNetwork were celebrating the invaluable role that travel agents play in bringing our world together.
We asked you to share your most memorable, inspirational, funny travel stories for a chance to win one of SEVEN fantastic prizes from:
Without any further ado, here are our winners!
Nicole Deforest from TripcentralPrize: 7 nights All Inclusive for two at any of the 8 Viva Wyndham Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Westjet to the rescue
Long story short we had a very hard time growing our family after my son, BUT we were so fortunate to adopt our daughter from Alberta a few years later. On May 3rd my husband had a pipe explode on him at work causing severe burns to his hands from hot tar. We got the call on May 6th at 4 am that she had made her arrival 2 weeks early. We went to the airport with 3 suitcases, a stroller, 2 car seats, a toddler and only 1 set of hands as my husbands were wrapped in bandages. Kitchener is a smaller airport and when the Westjet agent saw me trying to push everything on my own he came to the rescue, and stayed with us until we got to our gate. The adoption went well and 2 weeks later we were flying back home with Mackenzie .Check in was much easier but boarding the plane was a whole new story. We had purchased a double stroller and of course while boarding it wouldn’t fold down, my hands were full with a baby, our toddler who was woken from a nap, and trying to get our boarding passes out was impossible. That’s when Heather greeted me with a warm smile, asked to take Mackenzie and assisted our family to our seats. She made sure we were comfortable and settled before taking off. Heather was amazing from start to finish she kept checking up on us the whole flight. She gave my son an ipad, unlimited snacks, disposing of diapers, I was trying to nurse (yes it’s possible with adoption) so had to pump, Mackenzie was sleeping and Heather once again to the rescue came and insisted she would wash it out so I could stay with Mackenzie. We ended up sharing our story with her and had a nice touching moment hearing she experienced similar difficulties growing her family. I put her in touch with our adoption agency and hope she has her happy ending now too. I had never flown with a newborn before and if it wasn’t for all the extra help we wouldn’t of gotten through it. I can’t thank the Westjet team, and especially Heather enough for making our first time travelling with 2 kids a breeze.
Mike Sanderson from Independent by Flight CentrePrize: 7 nights All Inclusive for two at any of the 8 Viva Wyndham Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.
One of my most memorable bookings that reminded me of why I love to do what I do started with a phone call in the early evening last April (2019)
The person on the other end of the line mentioned that they have been following my Facebook business page for awhile now and had seen my posts in a local community group and wanted my help to do something special for her parents. Without hesitation I said I was all ears. She began by telling me that she, along with her siblings wanted to surprise their parents with a trip back home to Germany. She went on to tell me that her mom and dad are the hardest working people she knows and that they have never been back to Germany since leaving over 40 years ago. They never take a day off work and they never travel and it was time they were shown the appreciation they deserve by taking this trip. Not knowing if any family remained back in Germany still did not deter them from making this decision as it had always been a dream for her parents to go back and visit. The plan was to book the flights and present them to her mom and dad on Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day came and they opened the gift to find documentation of their confirmed flights to Germany that October. There were lots of tears and hugs all around along with shock and disbelief that this was actually going to happen. The next day I received an email from the very happy parents excited to start planning this amazing dream adventure. They changed the return date to stay longer and turned it into a 16 day unforgettable experience. Throughout the entire planning process they were so appreciative of my efforts and together we planned an incredible itinerary for them making sure they got to visit places from their child hood along with historic venues that are must sees when you travel to Germany. Taking many forms of transportation was a must for them as they wanted to see the beautiful scenery their homeland had to offer. They really did planes, trains and automobiles as they made their way around the country.
I couldn’t wait to hear how the trip went and to send my “Welcome Home” email to this amazing couple. I received a response letting me know that my email was received and not to worry and that she would tell me all about the trip in a few days once things got back to normal. I was happy to hear that and sure enough a few days later I heard from them. They gave me a review of every hotel they stayed in a long with everything we had put on the itinerary. So detailed and filled with passion.
Since returning home she has been my biggest fan and supporter of my page that has over 2,000 followers. She shares every one of my posts and her son booked a family vacation to Mexico with me last winter. The amount of gratitude and appreciation I have for her can never be put into words and to have been able to play a small role in their journey was something I will never forget.
Judi Pearson from SellOffVacationsPrize: 7 nights All Inclusive for two at any of the 8 Viva Wyndham Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.
A Wedding gone wrong
I had one of my regular clients come to me, asking me about joining into another agencies Wedding Group. She said that the plane was full and the agent could not help her. The client had 10 pax who wanted to go to this Wedding in Jamaica. The group of 20 had an evening flight and my group; I got them a great deal on the following morning flight.
The morning after my groups’ arrival there was an urgent face book message from my client… Apparently, the Bride & Grooms agent did not book the symbolic Wedding & the resort had no knowledge of a wedding happening. The Bride could not get in contact with the agency or her agent, left messages. My client asked if there was anything, I could do. I reached out to the resort, got in touch with the Wedding co coordinator. I told her the problem, also letting her know that the Bride & Groom were not in my group, but my group was also part of the Wedding. I asked re: a symbolic date, questioned if they had a spot, the resort did squeeze the wedding in. I made an appointment for the Bride & Groom to meet with the coordinator. Asked my client to notify the B&G.
Due to their numbers with both groups, I got a free wedding package. The bride’s parents were extremely thankful, messaged me to tell me I saved the Wedding, thanked me & realized it was not my position to do. Upon their arrival back home, they reached out & tipped me generously.
The other agent never returned an email or call to the Bride or Groom or their parents at destination. : ( Nor did she follow up with her clients. I always reach out to my client, its great customer service.
Although the booking was not mine, I am sure anyone of my fellow agents would have done the same. I was just pleased that I secured a symbolic date on short notice. I know have a group of new clients!
Sylvia Ysidron from SellOffVacationsPrize: 7-night stay for 2 adults at the Sandos Hotels & Resorts property of your choice in Mexico, including roundtrip ground transportation.
The first story is about the amazing experience I helped create for a client. My daughter has a good friend named Jessica who wanted to book their first getaway trip with her boyfriend Jason. This was also their first time to Jamaica, making it more memorable. What Jessica did not know was that Jason planned to propose on their trip and needed my help, in secrecy of course. Using my professional advice and guidance as a travel agent, I guided Jason in the right directions. I first advised that although Jason was eager, he should not propose the first day as they will most likely be feeling jet lagged and cannot anticipate the weather, etc. Once they arrived to the Riu Palace Tropical Bay resort in Negril, I helped Jason book a sunset photo shoot on the beach as Negril is known for their sunsets, followed by a private, romantic, candle-lit, lobster dinner. With the photographer in the plan, it was during this photo shoot that the photographer had Jessica pose looking away into the sunset, preparing Jason to get down on his knee with the ring and propose. It was picture-perfect. They were both extremely thankful for my help but it was a pleasure for me to be a part of their milestone. Travel agents sure play a special role for clients and their experiences. Now I am not only their family travel agent, but my daughter is one of their bridesmaids and I received an invitation to their future wedding. I look forward to booking their honeymoon, next! The photo included captures their proposal.
Denise Schaefer from Plaza TravelPrize: 5-night stay for 2 adults at the Sandos Hotels & Resorts property of your choice in Mexico, including roundtrip ground transportation.
One of my magical moments I had personally was on my trip to Africa. I’ve been a few times, but on my last trip to Zimbabwe we did walk with the elephants which was pure magic. Getting up close and touching them and walking thru the jungle with them and then getting to feed them was something I’ll never forget. They are so human like with how they take care of their babies and families. It’s really something to see. When we returned Sylvester the cheetah was there who was rescued as a baby and now lives at the lodge. We got to pet him and take pictures. Seeing him up close was beyond anything I’ve ever done. Africa captures your soul and I certainly leave a piece of mind behind each time I go.
As Will Smith once said “It feels like God visits everywhere else, but lives in Africa.”
One of the amazing experiences I created for a client was when they took the family and kids to Australia for Christmas and New Years. When they got to their resort in Tasmania on Christmas Eve I had arranged for a tree to be put in their room, decorated and gifts under the tree for the kids. They were beyond surprised and the kids thrilled. New Years they were back in Sydney and it was their twins birthday so again I had the concierge go shopping and buy them gifts and had them delivered to their suite with a cake and sang to them. Private guides, planes, top suites and multiple surprises along the way they said it was the best trip they have ever taken!
Suzy Davis from Adventures For Solo TravelersPrize: 3 night stay for two at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres - Junior Suite Category
Cry of the Kalahari
Once upon a time in 2018, deep in the bush of the Kalahari, I lead a small group on a lux ‘ Fly-In Safari ‘ through Botswana, a country that boasts the world’s highest concentration of elephants at 134,000 strong. From Maun to Moremi and lush Okavango, we saw an eyeful of spectacular wildlife that exceeded our wildest expectations. We flew in 6 seater Cessna’s over plains teeming with animals until we landed deep in Kalahari Game Reserve on a dirt runway. We piled out with wheeled bags in tow through tall grasses for a short walk to Grasslands Bushmans Lodge. Suddenly out of nowhere, a giant bull elephant with huge tuskers charged us trumpeting ‘You’re trespassing.‘ Our guide then yelled, “ Drop your bags and run fast now ! “. I peed my safari pants but was warmly welcomed with champagne by the staff.
We loved our raised platform tents with footed bathtubs. Each night, prides of lions roared so loud, it was surreal, as loud as jet engines in surround sound. Our days were spent on game drives and the nights on walking safaris with the San Bushmen tribe. Late one night tucked in our cozy beds, my roomie Linda whispers ‘Suzy I felt something touch my face ‘. I respond ‘ it’s just a bug. Go to sleep. Again she says ‘this is no critter’. Minutes later I hear ‘ Suzy, it’s big, I’m scared, it won’t go away’ and I assure her it’s nothing. 10 minutes later, Linda screams! I stumble out of bed to turn on my flashlight. And there it was in full glory, the most beautiful sight my eyes have beheld. An elephant trunk had reached through the canvas zip window. The gentle Ellie was stroking Linda’s face. Pure silence. No photo – like a fantastical apparition. Touching, smelling, connecting over 5 minutes of eternity until he quietly disappeared.
Later at 2 am, our tent swayed and beds shook. Surely I surmised, this is an earthquake! Together we huddled on the floor trembling in an embrace. An hour later it stopped. In trepidation, I tiptoed outside to witness total destruction. Every tree and bush was uprooted or crushed. I ran to the lodge in my pj’s searching security. Ranger Joseph laughed saying “ Wasn’t it beautiful Suzy! A huge herd of elephants paraded over our non-fenced grounds foraging for food. We always rebuild here as nature must have her way. “
I returned home stunned by joy. Africa always stirs something profoundly deep in us. A place like no other on earth, Africa changes us from mere tourists into true travelers. Africa always makes us Storytellers!
Cindy Collins from Woodstock TravelPrize: USD $500 from Costa Rica Dream Adventures
Travel has been a very important motivator for me, through both bright and dark times in my life. I always have some kind of trip that I am planning- it’s what keeps me going. I love to research and when I decided to move from casually helping friends find deals to signing on with Woodstock Travel as an outside agent a few years ago, planning travel for others has brought me a great deal of joy. I get excited as clients’ departure dates approach and I love to build up the anticipation with them. I’ve had some very sad and disappointing cancellations/postponements lately and I can’t wait until we can start to look ahead to the next step.
I have many beautiful travel moments but one really stands out. Last winter, my teenage daughter became ill with a virus that turned into a chronic disorder. Months were spent in a great deal of pain and it was hard on her usually bubbly spirit. One night, when she was crying in pain and frustration, I blurted out that when she felt better, I would take her to the place she had dreamed about since she was little- Costa Rica. I hadn’t actually budgeted this trip but luckily I had some travel points; we also stayed in a hostel for a few days and I was able to take advantage of some great agent rates. A few months later we were on a plane- it was definitely a trip on a shoestring! It turned out to be my most memorable, heart-achingly meaningful trip. My favourite moment was finally getting to the bottom of many, many stairs at the La Fortuna waterfall and swimming in the natural pool at the bottom- health issues forgotten, we admired the waterfall mist making rainbows and spent a few hours soaking in the pure beauty (the stairs back up are another story). The top of the Arenal volcano was visible the few days we were there- locals told us several times how lucky we were as it is almost always shrouded in clouds. Lucky was exactly how I felt that whole trip.
For me and many of my clients, travel is like a form of therapy- it has a restorative power that can’t be underestimated. Our nomad clients who get it will be ready to go again soon and I can’t wait to plan some healing adventures.