The Monday Minute is a weekly feature in PAX that highlights the movers, shakers, leaders and rule breakers in Canada's travel advisor community. Wanna be profiled? Wanna nominate someone? Email email@example.com!
Name: Brian Hopkins
Business: Expedia Cruises
Where do you live? Kingston, ON
How long have you been a travel advisor?
Since 1994 – including a break for my mid-life crises. I took a sabbatical and completed a Marine Engine Technician course.
What is your specialty?
I’m a generalist, and although I value drilling down and learning more about each destination, I’m flexible depending on the specific inquiry. My day could start with a query regarding an expedition cruise through the North West Passage and the next query is for sun and sand in the tropics. I sell Caribbean more than anything else with Europe as a close second.
What is your current state of mind?
Some days I wonder. The dynamics of the travel and tourism industry fluctuate and are dependant on so many other facets. It can drive one crazy.
What inspired you to become a travel advisor?
Like most, I wanted to travel. I am a child of the ‘60s and was diagnosed with wanderlust at an early age. I was 15 the first time I backpacked across Canada.
What’s the first trip you ever took?
I started backpacking from Toronto to Halifax in 1970.
What travel trends are you seeing these days?
When COVID restrictions started to lift, the flood gates opened. There is a demand to travel everywhere, but no one specific destination. Inquiries run the gambit from Caribbean sun and sand; Europe and cultural experiences; to exotic destinations like Asia and North Africa. I’ve also had inquiries for Iceland to see the Northern Lights up close and personal.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do business?
I’m old school. I prefer to meet with clients face to face in an office where my tools are accessible. However, COVID forced me to work from home. Video conferencing software has helped immensely to fulfill my need to make eye contact.
Of all the bookings you’ve made, which itinerary are you most proud of?
First of all, I love the sales process. It’s about the transaction and building a relationship, from qualifying the client to closing the sale and everything in between, regardless of the type of cruise, escorted tour or all-inclusive package. However, I find FITs the most challenging, interesting and fulfilling. The most recent being a transatlantic cruise from New York to Southampton, then connecting to a coach tour in England, then a train from London to Edinburgh to connecting to another coach tour, to eventually a ferry from the U.K. to Ireland and then another coach tour. It was an awesome post-retirement trip, at a relaxing pace, with personal genealogical research in between.
Where do you see yourself one year from now? What are your future goals?
I do not ever see myself retiring. Everyday is full of new possibilities. I can’t imagine doing anything else career wise in the near or distant future. If I ever book someone to MOW and they actually wanted to go to MBJ, I'll probably retire, change my name and leave town.
What’s one thing you would change about the travel industry?
I love the industry, but it’s the software and booking engines that could be improved. Not to mention extremely long hold times to get through to suppliers. Keep it simple. There is room for improvement.
What is your motto?
Heraldry is an interesting topic. The surname Hopkins has four different Coats of Arms, with four different family mottos. Must have been some clan dysfunction happening back in the day. One of my favourites is: “Either by gentleness or by force.”
What is your number one piece of advice to other travel advisors?
I am a salesman. I love the sales process and building a relationship with a potential client. Regardless of which widget one sells, the bottom line is about the relationship. As travel advisors, we are helping to facilitate dreams and minimize the nightmares. Focus on the details and don’t let things fall through the cracks.
Where are you travelling next?
Hmm. I’m in a local wine tasting group here in Kingston, so maybe a wine tasting trip to the South of France?