Happy Wednesday everyone! This week we are continuing our “Conversation with a Legend” series and featuring our very own, Cathy Gordon! Cathy is an integral part of our team and is beloved by her clients for her extensive knowledge of each destination, her warmth, and her genuine passion for travel. Cathy is a very fun-loving person who inspires others to live out their wildest adventures through her words. She cares deeply about each of her clients and coordinating dream experiences for them on their vacations. Take a break from your week and get to know Cathy, learn some of her best tips and tricks for planning and experiencing your bucket list vacation, and enjoy photos from her most recent trip out to the Maldives.
How did you get your start selling travel?
I began my career in Australia as a corporate travel consultant in the 90s. I started in domestic travel and then moved into international travel. I continued working in corporate and group travel in the UK and US before finding a home at Tahiti Legends. I was ready to look after vacationers rather than business men!
How has the industry changed since then?
The industry has changed enormously. When I first started there were no computers, no internet, and no emails. All transactions were conducted via the phone or via fax. I remember standing by a fax machine with so many different faxes to send! The industry was also a little more glamorous than it is now. People used to get dressed up just to travel on an airplane! The way people travel now has also changed. We are now in the information age where travelers are so much more educated about their options and are also influenced by the many reviews they can find online regarding resorts, airlines, and other suppliers. With access to greater information, clients are now looking for experiences in addition to the destinations. This makes it more important than ever to connect with the client and provide the most suitable options to meet the client’s requirements.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Talking to the clients and hearing about their wonderful experiences after they’ve returned from their vacations.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve planned for a client?
This is a hard one! There have been so many different requests over the years that range from having a cake baked for a client’s mother at a Michelin-star restaurant in France to chartering a 10-seater aircraft to fly engineers between mining operations in the Australian Outback. I have organized weddings, private dinners, entertainment for events, photoshoots on islands, etc. It is more important that the experience is memorable to the clients, than to me.
What is your favorite experience you’ve had on your travels?
My favorite experiences generally have to do with interaction with the local wildlife. In Tahiti, it was getting so close to the dolphins in the lagoon that I could hear them breathe. In Peru, it was the llamas – have you ever seen how long their eyelashes are? And most recently, it was snorkeling in the Maldives. We saw two turtles and the entire group followed the first turtle – I decided to follow the second. For quite some time, it was just me and the turtle with no one else around.
How many times have you visited our destinations?
I have been to Tahiti three times, Fiji once, and Maldives and Dubai twice. And I grew up in Australia – Melbourne to be specific.
What is your personal travel style/philosophy?
I actually have two, depending on the destination. If I plan to only be in the country as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, I want to see and experience as much as possible. If it is a destination that has captured my soul and I know I will return, I like to settle into one area and really enjoy my time there without rushing to the next location.
And finally, I always expect something to go wrong on my travels – whether it is a transport issue, a hotel error, or any other unforeseen occurrence. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Remind yourself that you’re on vacation and will have a good time no matter what (let your travel agent deal with the issues!)
Best piece of advice to people planning their dream vacation.
Don’t just dream it, do it. You only regret the roads not taken. The world is too accessible these days to not explore and your life will be richer for the experience!
Best picture spot in the Maldives.
Everywhere is a great picture spot in the Maldives! The destination is insanely beautiful. Prior to experiencing the Maldives, I wondered what could possibly be so good that you would travel all that way. As soon as I arrived, I understood! The atolls in the Maldives have the softest sand and the most amazing blue, clear water.
What destination/experience is still on your bucket list?
African luxury safari; polar bears in Churchill, Alaska; orangutans in southeast Asia; more remote areas of Japan; more of the Greek Islands – I could go on and on!
After this interview, now we want to see for ourselves how long a llama’s eyelashes are! And if Cathy’s list of bucket list experiences doesn’t inspire wanderlust, we’re really not sure what will. If you have any questions for Cathy, leave them in the comments below! And if she sounds like just the person to help you with your next trip, feel free to contact her here!