You got a problem with that?

At first glance the travel industry seems to be a pretty cool place to work.  I am sure lots of people have the vision of sitting at a desk just booking amazing hotels, picking out incredible tours and experiences in out of the way places that are exotic and romantic.  That is certainly part of the job for sure – and one that attracts all of us into the industry.  However the real job comes when the “proverbial” hits the fan and problems need to be solved.

I have realised that problem solving is a bigger part of the job than actually planning and booking the travel.  One long time travel agent told me years ago –
“Remember – you can do everything perfectly, check and cross check your itinerary, reconfirm till you are blue in the face.  The minute your client steps on the plane they are in the hands of the gods.”

Very true!  Problems can be big or small.  Like the small ants that marched morning and night through the hotel room next to Disneyland.  High season so there was no room at the Inn (Holiday or otherwise).  After an exhaustive search to move clients I got a phone call saying that they had solved the problem themselves.  Oh my goodness I thought.  That’s bad that I couldn’t solve it and they could.  What did they do? Where were they booked? ……… At the same hotel….they stopped the ants coming in by using a couple of tubes of toothpaste all around the baseboard of the room.  Well….there you go.  Problem solved and I can’t claim any praise at all.

Bigger problems like volcanoes in Iceland require more than a tube of toothpaste.  The first problem was that nobody could really pronounce the name of the volcano –


The second problem was that it happened on a weekend.  Say goodbye to your weekend travel agents….And the on hold times were atrocious so if you didn’t have someone problem solving for you it was pretty bleak.

Having clients down in South Africa unable to fly via Europe required rebooking and rerouting via South America.  Long flying time but they got home in the end although honestly I would have probably extended my vacation in Cape Town.

Some problems just cannot be solved – not even by God himself.  Well – maybe He could.  Like the client who wanted to move hotels in Puerto Vallarta because the waves kept knocking her over when she went for a swim.  ???

And then the problems of the twin share….oh my goodness.  I could write a book.  Let me explain.  Twin share means a single doesn’t have to pay the single supplement and they will get “matched up” with someone of the same sex.  So how do you solve the problem of the lady who insisted on leaving her undies to soak in the hand basin in the bathroom every night.  Kinda puts you off brushing your teeth, right?

Oh and the lady who missed her flight because she said the transfer was late picking her up.  Well – that’s terrible and we immediately went into overdrive to solve the problem.  Booked a hotel at the airport, another flight home the next day. We launched a complaint with the transfer company only to discover that the transfer company had dropped her and other passengers off in good time for the flight – it seems that something interrupted her between the doors of the airport and the check in gate.  Something called duty free shopping perhaps?  Yes – we women love to shop and this is a problem I am unable to solve.



By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Loved reading this post, I am currently studying tourism and this has helped me understand that it does have many other aspects within the job. thank you I look forward to look at your other posts.


    1. Thanks Amy – glad you liked it. I can see from your blog that you have a passion for travel. Every job has its ups and its downs but there is no doubt that in our industry there is never a dull moment!


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