06 MAR 2019: The best part of writing a column is getting to know many of you. I’ve travelled with you, become FB friends, asked for advice, learned about your kids, and my favourite story is Jackson, a 10-year-old, opening a savings account and then encouraging his class mates to do the same. I do of course run on about my children. It’s been special. Some of you I met years ago on FAM trips, and when you meet me again, you remind me that we were together in Panama, or Mexico, or Margarita Island. I love being invited to agent’s fam trips and spending time with you.  

And oh yes, we show puppy and kitten pictures, and even the odd horse.

When I wrote a weekly newspaper question and answer column that was syndicated across the country, I couldn’t have done it without you. Some of your last names are gone, and so are the agencies you were with, but I sure remember most of the conversations.

And I certainly remember the kind things you’ve done for me. Christine James once asked if I’d join her on a trip for two that she’d won.

Rick an agent who specializes in diving, spent hours on the phone helping me with columns that related to divers.

Nanci Chaisson helped tremendously with the cruise questions.

Jenny Cressman keeps me up to date on her Cuba tours. She is an expert on Cuba, and someone I have relied on for years.

When I suddenly had the idea of becoming an outside agent. I asked my niece Anita Walker who was then in the industry, who I should approach to take me on. She thought for a few minutes and said “Coco Toth one of the owners of Bravo Travel. You’ll love her, and she’s highly respected in the industry.”

I did love Coco and we’re good friends years later. In fact, she’s leading a group of 24 on a cruise this spring, and one of my sister-in-law is going to be her roomie.

Right after Coco, agreed to take me on, a reader asked if I could organize her wedding. How hard could that be? Well I have more respect for all of you after a short time at this. Who knew so many credit cards would bounce? Who knew the bride’s Mother didn’t want to be anywhere near her ex-husband, but he would like to be in the room next door. Please. Who knew the guest list would go from 25 to 70?

The comment that had me handing over the whole file was, “Well, I can’t believe the airline wouldn’t make a time that is more convenient for all of us, when after all we’re bringing 70 people.” Kelly Greco very kindly took over. My first and last venture into doing what you do. I never fail to be impressed.

Years ago, I travelled with Ron Tereshyn who owned Avion Travel, that grew to three locations. I was impressed with his enthusiasm, energy and love of the business. Then after he sold the business to Air Tours, I lost track. Not long ago at a Palace Resort fam, I met him and his wife and CEO of operations Mary Tereshyn. His enthusiasm hasn’t flagged at all, and his wife Mary is delightful, another energy plus individual.

A month or so ago Ron called me with the news he had re-launched 510Travel- home based agent division as The Travel Agent Hotline. He was bursting with excitement about his new concept. And because he feels that new agents are being taken advantage of by having to pay out high initial yearly and monthly fees, plus paying fees for travel courses, he says “We don’t charge fees.

“Our model is storefront and home-based agents. There are 25 agents. 510 is a member of Ensemble Travel’s top 25 Elite Division.”

For 30 years, since 1978 Ron has looked at all the deals of the day. If he finds a resort he hasn’t experienced, he looks at Oyster and Trip Advisor to read the traveller reviews, before he promotes it. And he’s up at 5am daily putting together videos of the specials. Now it is daily updated Vimeo Video presentations.

I remember how he had to rush to do a video when we were on a day trip to the Palace Isla Majeres.

It has been a pleasure meeting you all over the years and looking forward to many more.

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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