LONG VERSION: Who knows where it comes from, or how these things get into our heads, but from a very early age I was an explorer. I always had the urge to go travelling the world and that urge, that feeling, never ever left me. It permeated my day-to-day thoughts, my life at school and when I started work.
As a pre-teen kid in the UK I would be outdoors with my bow and arrow made from a tree branch or bamboo stick and dowel rods. I had bowie knives for throwing and carving spears for hunting rabbits ‘over on the common’ – that would be the wasteland at the end of our street. During my secondary school days I met a teacher by the name of Brian Spencer who taught maths during the day and went outward bound on the weekends. He planned weekend camping trips for the school and I was gone many weekends in the summer when my parents could afford it. During those school trips I learned to camp, kayak, canoe, trek, climb mountains, ridge walk, scree run, abseil off rock walls, spelunk and also capsize and fall off those same mountains.
In my mid teens I developed a love affair with Japan and all things oriental. I studied Japanese culture, tried to learn the language, practised several martial arts and during those teen years I planned my overland trip from London to Tokyo. It was a good plan that included rail across Western Europe and Russia and from Vladivostok on to Japan by freighter.
In the meantime at age sixteen I had left school and joined Horizon Holidays of Hanover Street, London (UK) – my retail travel career had started. It was August 1965. In 1967 an opportunity came my way. The god of travel answered my prayers and I signed on in the British Merchant Navy to scrub decks around the world onboard P&O cruise ships out of Southampton. My first sailing was an around the world voyage and it took me to Japan. I had three ‘personal journeys’ to complete. One was to get to Japan. Another was to practice Judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo. The other was to circumnavigate the world. Checked off all three. I was nineteen years old at the time.
In 1970 I emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta. My Canadian travel trade career was about to start and it started at the Thomas Cook office located on Jasper Avenue, managed by David McLean who taught me by example the detail and the professional finesse that went into selling travel. After Thomas Cook, I managed a Simpsons / Sears Travel agency, returned to Thomas Cook as manager then opened my own agency called The Charter Place – Specializing in Vacation Travel. I had two locations. I scored a number of “firsts” in the industry introducing a sit down / stand up counter with in-agency video, a travel accessory store, a women’s only concept called Woman’s World Travel, a specialty corporate travel department named The Executive Alternative and tied into the Golden Bear Cruise Club. I developed tours around movie themes such as Shogun, and I specialized in the adventure travel niche. I introduced service fees in 1978 before the concept was widely known. Our fee back then was $25 for a personal appointment.
My advertising was different and it pushed suppliers versus price and made good use of catchy slogans. In 1981 I left Edmonton and relocated to Vancouver where I managed a corporate agency for Atlas Travel. In 1983 I joined Uniglobe Travel International head office as the Director of Training & Development and later became the Vice President of Western Canada. It was in this role that I learned the concept of franchising and how to turn my knowledge and creative talents to help others build their travel businesses. In 1986 I opened TIP Travel Management Consulting and for the next seven years I consulted to, trained, assisted and worked with companies North America wide. In 1996 I became General Manager of a travel & tourism college.
I have led groups, opened cruise desks, started corporate departments, sailed 11 seas, visited 40+/- countries and received the ACTA Trainer of the Year Award. Along with Steve Gillick, of Gillick's World, I helped to pioneer tele-seminars and webinars to train agents at their desks.
SMP Training Co., was established in 1999 to service the global travel and tourism Industry with cutting edge keynotes and workshops based on NBG - New Business Generation. That's what I do. My training mantra: "No Fluff - No Theory". Since 1999 my customer base has grown to include tour operators, departments of tourism, airlines and travel agency consortia, home based groups, associations, credit card firms, aboriginal tourism, government departments, consulting firms and call centers - taking me on a global journey from the Arctic to Bosnia.
In April 2010, my 412 page marketing book was published. The title, "273 No Fluff -Theory Marketing Ideas for Travel Agents" and 27 years in the making! A sample can be read here. In June 2011 the first issue of my e-magazine SELLING TRAVEL was published (and can be read here) and in 2013 I published a new magazine called IC Travel Agent which has now been amalgamated into the Selling Travel magazine . In 2014 I opened The Travel Agent's Store (renamed as The Selling Travel Store) where travel trade professionals can access eBooks on how to sell more travel. As of 2020, my eGuides are available from The Travel Institute. My soft cover books are available from Amazon. Also in 2020, I published a 520 page book, Marketing Ideas for Travel Agents. The book offers 332 ideas that a travel agent could use to promote themselves during Covid-19 and beyond.
So now ya know!