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  • Will Juntunen

Ottawa Travel & Cruise Goes Beyond

Before beginning a second career as a travel agent, Georgia Brown earned a degree in accounting. She brought Ottawa Travel and Cruises 26 years ago, bringing the auditor’s discipline to the business of travel. Before she’ll recommend a travel destination to a client, Brown will review the offering with in-depth research and personal visits. If you enjoy dinner with friends in the Ottawa restaurant district, walk past CatsEye Wine Bar and visit Brown. The agency door remains open until nine in the evening. Brown’s agency took 9-11 in stride. Yet, how can a travel agency cope when an invisible virus closes countries to even vital business travel? Brown stayed at her booking terminal, helping her clients. Unlike online booking sites, she sent refunds straight to her clients' credit cards.

By late spring, clients began to travel again. However, airline cancellations often forced two or three rebookings of hotels and ground transportation before the client left town. All of this customer service brought in no revenue. Brown couldn’t collect a commission until the client completed their travel. The Business Interruption Grants announced in September 2020 showed up on her radar. She turned to Amy Lambert of the Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance to develop an application. Thanks to a BIG award announced in late October, Brown has been able to bring back staff, carefully trained agents who believe in Brown’s philosophy of customer service. She hopes to help her clients maintain their plans to travel for the holidays, no matter how many times the itinerary needs to be changed.

Brown has followed the cruise ships' plans to sail the high seas in a safe, socially distant way. The cruise lines have sought volunteers for the shakedown cruises. “I have personally volunteered to take one of the new cruises. I want to know how safe is safe before I book a client.”

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