Remembering Lynda Sinclair
In 2013, Lynda Sinclair was one of more than 40 Canadian travel industry pioneers who contributed to Voices of Travel, a special book marking the 45th anniversary of Canadian Travel Press. Each of these voices offered a mixture of historical perspective, anecdotes, reflections, passion, hope and more as they told the story of Canada’s travel industry over a period of four and a half decades.
Sadly, on Sept. 8, Lynda passed away after a three-year battle with cancer.
To her family, friends … all of us here at Baxter Media would like to extend our deepest condolences.
She will be missed.
This week, in her memory, we thought it would be appropriate to share Lynda’s contribution to Voices of Travel with all of you.
So, read on, and remember, Lynda Sinclair, one of Canada’s Voices of Travel.
The Vital Role Of The Independents
Lynda Sinclair is a well-known travel professional who has worked in the Canadian travel industry for some 30 years.* Always in retail, she has worked with companies such as Ensemble and New Wave Travel, and for nine years** has been with Vision 2000 Travel Group***, currently as Director of Leisure Business Development****. In this role, she supervises, mentors and coaches 170 independent travel advisors, who either work from home or within a Vision travel agency. A seasoned, retail travel specialist, Sinclair is pleased to say she “eats, breathes and sleeps travel 24 hours a day!”
It seems that as long as there have been travel agents, there have been outside sales reps – at home agents – independent travel advisors. Whatever you call them, they’ve had a really interesting influence on retail travel here in Canada.
Back in the day, it was all about travel agencies looking to increase their sales by having people outside the industry refer business to them. Vision 2000, which can trace its routes back to Toronto’s Rogers Travel in 1953, had policeman, teachers, fellow shop-owners, retirees all loving to dabble in our “glamourous” profession.
Some top producers such as insurance brokers and real estate agents were, like us, used to commission revenue – “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” And let us not forget the wives of dentists and lawyers who did it for a little fun and for something to chat about at the golf club or a bridge party.
Their involvement was all over the map. Usually it was just a referral, but many outside agents loved to get involved with research and promoting special departures.
Remember, this was long before the Internet, so they really had to have a passion for the business, waiting patiently for the hotelier in Hawaii or the South American rail company to snail-mail brochures. Some even got involved in the booking process, with mixed results.
Luckily, in those days, generous commissions and ‘waivers and favours’ policies meant that the airlines and other suppliers were more forgiving about the odd amateur boo-boo.
Remuneration was also a mixed bag. Some were on a fixed commission, some did it for the travel benefits, and some were happy with a combination of the two.
Fast-forward to a decade or so ago when we briefly were confronted by the card-mill agencies; the general public could pay a flat fee to become a ‘travel consultant,’ receive business cards – and even IATA cards, according to the promise – and enjoy fabulous travel benefits. Luckily, that was a short chapter in the industry’s history.
Today, it’s a combination of former travel agency staffers who see the earning potential of work for commission, plus men and women who prefer to work from their home or are in a community not large enough to support a bricks-and-mortar travel agency. Some work full-time, some are part-time. Some are so successful they have to hire staff to process the business. Some of the active aging population sees the age of 65 as the opportunity to test out a second career.
At Vision 2000, we are even welcoming entire agencies and their staff into our independent travel advisor program.
The outside agent role is more professional now, as the industry is better regulated and stricter. But there are still folks who are happy to just refer the business in exchange for a little “purse-and-shoes” money.
Yes, it’s still all over the map.
And it’s still a vital part of the Canadian retail travel scene.
Notes: This story was originally published October 2013
* As of 2020, Sinclair was in the industry for 37 years
** As of 2020, Sinclair was with Vision Travel/Direct Travel for 16 years
*** The Vision Travel 2000 Group is now Vision Travel/Direct Travel
**** Sinclair was the Senior Vice President of Leisure Travel for Vision Travel