Travel agency goes old school

Spencer Clarke and Dawn Griffith operate the new Maritime Travel Agency on Lakeshore Road. Cathy Dobson

Dawn Griffith says customer service is what’s missing today in so many business sectors.

“I want to go back to old-school. I want to take care of the customer in person and have less of an online presence,” she says.

That’s why Griffith and branch partner Spencer Clarke teamed up to open Maritime Travel a month ago.

Both are long-time travel agents who have travelled extensively and can speak with first-hand experience about the destinations they sell.

Both say they were tired of working for travel agencies that focus too much on the Internet and cut the perks that were once standard in the industry.

For instance, every client at Maritime Travel is rewarded with “swag” to thank them for using their service, said Griffith.

“We hand out bags and hats, ear buds and mugs, and our airline tickets come in a plastic wallet.  Those are things nobody else is doing anymore.”

After 13 years working for others, Griffith was growing dissatisfied when she learned about Maritime Travel from a friend who has been with the Halifax-based company 36 years.

With a history dating back to 1942, Maritime Travel is the largest independent travel agency in Canada.

It has customer-friendly features, such as a toll-free number answered 24/7 by experienced agents to sort out problems.

There are 110 Maritime Travel locations coast-to-coast but none were in southwestern Ontario. Until now.

Griffith and Clarke chose their location at 1130 Lakeshore Rd. in the Sunripe Plaza to serve the city’s north end. The new agency also employs travel agent Chelsea Weed.

A grand opening is planned for Saturday, Sept. 13 with a barbecue and travel giveaways. Call 226-778-4468 for details.

 

NEW ONLINE SITE FOR LOCAL BIZ

Derek Stewardson, owner of Alcon Media, a successful marketing company based out of Sarnia, recently launched a free business directory, restaurant guide and classified ad website.

Stewardson has owned the domain name for www.SarniaSite.com for eight years but only recently found the time to build it.

“It was initially to be just a local business directory but we decided to add in the restaurant guide with customer reviews,” he said. “Not only will it be helpful for local businesses and residents, but also tourists visiting our area.”

A listing on the site costs nothing.

“It’s a great tool for local business,” he said.

Free classified ads with photos, including personal ads, are also available.

About a week before launching, Stewardson decided to add one more feature. “I’m personally a big fan of group-buying sites like Groupon and thought it would be great if local businesses could offer something similar. So we added a Daily Deals section where businesses could offer Groupon-like deals.”

Users of the site have full control over their business accounts and classified ads and can make changes any time, from anywhere with an Internet connection. They also have the option of capturing business leads from their listing.

“Users can simply login to their Dashboard to view a list of people requesting info, complete with name, email and phone number,” said Stewardson.

“I’ve lived here all my life and, being a local business for over 15 years, I wanted a way to help out other local businesses.”

Go to www.SarniaSite.com to create your free business listing or classified ad.

REGISTER NOW FOR CHAMBER GOLF

Local Chamber of Commerce members can sign up now for the annual Member/Guest golf day at Huron Oaks in Bright’s Grove.

On Thursday, Aug. 21, members and non-members play 18 holes, get lunch, dinner, a sleeve of balls and prizes. The idea is to bring along a future member.

Call 519-336-2400 for more information and to reserve a spot.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at

cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.

– Cathy Dobson