Tim Wood | May 04, 2016 12:25 PM ET
Happy National Travel Agent Day! (In Canada, For Now At Least)
They are just above us, but yet, in so many ways, a world away.
Americans love to bust on our neighbors to the North. Heck, “South Park” wrote a whole song about blaming Canada for every bad thing that ever happened in the world. But today, we honor our friends for the foresight and thoughtfulness that up until now, we as Americans have not shown our travel agent saviors.
There is a day for just about everything in America. The “let’s make it a day” phenomenon started in earnest in the late 1980s and with the rise of social media post-Y2K, has become a full-on freight train.
Just this month alone, there’s National Truffle Day (May 2), National Paranormal Day (May 3), National Crepe Suzette Day (May 6), National Limerick Day (May 12), National Blame Someone Else Day (May 13), National Pack Rat Day (May 17), National Waitstaff Day (May 21) and National Paperclip Day (May 29). And that’s just a sampling.
But in the U.S., no one has created a National Travel Agent Day. (Well, not yet, but more on that later.) While so many in the U.S. have written off travel agents as a dead profession and thrown them on the scrap heap of former professions right alongside Blockbuster Video clerks, the Canadians knew better.
In so many ways, Canada feels like the Bizarro America (Seinfeld fans, rejoice).
It’s America, with a slight twist. They embrace English, but put their own spin on it. They like our cars, but measure the car’s speed in kilometers. They devour our pop culture, but have their own contributions as well.
Ann Murray, Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Mike Myers, Pamela Anderson, Bob and Doug McKenzie, “Kids in the Hall,” “You Can’t Do That on Television!” Vancouver plays stunt double for just about every big city portrayed on television or movies.
Hockey, curling, lacrosse.“Degrassi," Alex Trebek, William Shatner, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Dan Aykroyd. Keanu Reeves, Ryan Gosling. The Wonderbra. Instant Replay. Superman (created in part by Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster). Basketball (yes, James Naismith is a Canuck). AM radio. Canada Dry. Molson Golden. Walkie Talkies. The garbage bag. Poutine.
Poutine, people! This list could go on and on and on. Billy Joel could write a sequel to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to salute their contributions.
When it comes to travel, some of the most pristine and serene locations in the world are just above us. But their simplest yet most brilliant contribution to the travel industry was simply having the organizational skills to dedicate a day to the travel agent.
Colleen Lozenzen at Uniglobe Carefree Travel Group in Saskatoon, we salute you. We stand before you in awe and in embarrassment, quite honestly. Embarrassed and ashamed we did not think of doing this first.
I sit in befuddlement before my keyboard as if I had just watched an episode of “Shark Tank,” asking myself, “Why didn’t I come up with that?”
Well, we may not have created it, but dang-nabbit, we are going to celebrate it. And no, we’re not just going to commandeer it and hide its true identity like U.S. talent agents have tried to do with Bieber and Gosling and Matthew Perry.
No, we are standing in unity with you, Canada. We have been in contact with the National Day Calendar Review Board. And rather than applying for some random day and trying to act like it’s our creation, we too at TravelPulse have petitioned to celebrate National Travel Agent Day on the first Wednesday of May.
Would I have loved to have thought of this four months ago? Absolutely, but clearly, I lack the Canadian gift of advance planning (and I say that with complete respect). Yes, I applied for this designation just this morning and it will take 2-4 weeks to find out if it’s accepted. And when they do accept it, we will show you all the shiny proclamation letter.
Here’s my plea to the review board:
Travel agents are the engineers behind our most cherished vacation memories and the saviors behind what could have been our worst travel experiences. There are many in this country that somehow think that travel agents are dead, that the advent of the online travel agencies such as Expedia somehow made travel agents as extinct as Blockbuster Video. The truth is, travel agents are thriving more than ever.
Yes, there are fewer brick-and-mortar locations, but the travel agent industry has not only embraced new technology, they have thrived and improved upon. Through the white noise and information overload of the Internet, the travel agents of today provide a trusted respite from the endless chorus of anonymous online reviews, a human interaction in the age of unsocial media. So, in unity with our Canadian friends who are clearly more thoughtful than us, it is time to honour them for their integral part in making our wildest travel dreams a reality.
Thank you, Canada. And thank you to the thousands of travel agents across the country. We are proud of you every day, but today, we give you an extra-special salute.
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