Helen Robertson left her 27-year career at the Royal Bank to help others hit the high seas of travel.
She’s seated at her desk in the Yonge and Davisville office of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. Moments earlier she had helped two older ladies find the right trip for them. In the moment after, before the talk of business, she shared why she left her banking career and started her own business.
Thirteen years earlier, Robertson was managing a Royal Bank branch in Belleville. Her colleague, Adrian Lusby, was managing a location in Kingston. They connected again through LinkedIn and Robertson noticed her colleague was now running his own Expedia business.
“Two hours on the phone with him, and he had me convinced that this was a good idea and put me in contact with some people to pursue this with.”
Now one month in — their soft opening was Aug. 15 — Robertson looks to go big Nov. 4 for the grand opening. They’ll have agents available to ask questions about river cruises, Air Canada vacations and other professionals from the industry.
For the time being, getting acclimatized to the new neighborhood, which incorporates all those residing within Lawrence Avenue, Bayview Avenue, St. Clair Avenue and Bathurst Street.
The location at 1958 Yonge St. is great, Robertson says, but wants to clear the air of any stereotypes that should rise like the tides.
“There are a few people out there that have misconceptions on what a cruise is,” she said. “They have this sense that if you’re not over 70, you don’t want to go on a cruise.”
She stifled a laugh and shared that her family has been on 10 cruises over the years.
Young families have the best of both worlds, she added, as cruise liners tend to have programming for young kids so the parents can steal away.
And Expedia is not just about trips on the open seas. They provide planning for safaris, mountaineer trips and all-inclusive packages.
As for the differences, or similarities, between a travel agency and a bank branch? It’s advice-based selling and matching your clients’ needs.
That means Robertson and her team are shipshape for the coming travel season.