With more than three decades of experience between them, two Saint Lucians are adding to that number – great personalized customer service, with a smile of course, as their recipe for success.
Meet Adrian Popo, Manager of Travel and Leisure Centre and Bernice Jean, Operations Manager. According to Popo, who recently set up shop at Gablewoods Mall in Sunny Acres, he worked his way from the bottom of the service industry all the way up to now running his own business. He garnered 16 years of experience along the way.
“I started off as a customer service rep at Vigie airport (now George FL Charles Airport), before moving to Hewannorra in Vieux Fort and later joining the Sandals team,” Popo told the STAR. “I later got back into the travel industry and worked with Air Jamaica and then Caribbean Star Airlines before they ceased operations,” he went on. Popo later supervised and managed some of the top travel agencies in Saint Lucia before calling it a day some time last year.
Describing his as a recent spiritual journey, he says it was God’s calling that took him to where he is right now. It is a joyful and satisfying place called “his own business.”
“I think this was simply my calling to move on and gain the strength to open my own business and do what I am most passionate about in an area I think I have the natural God-given talent for,” Popo says.
This he says, plus the inspiration and encouragement he received from members of the public whom he had served previously, made the transition easier. “Going into business on your own is not an easy thing, especially in these economic times. But I received so many calls from persons that I had served in the past and having all these people calling and expressing dismay that I was no longer involved and others encouraging me to get back in were quite a bit of inspiration. So starting this off knowing that I had a client base helped too,” Popo says.
And so with the offer of a small office space from someone at Gablewoods Mall – something which he also calls a small miracle – Adrian Popo opened the doors to the Travel and Leisure Centre this June.The company offers airline ticketing, cruise packages, US and Canadian visa application assistance and appointments, local and regional tours, hotel accommodation worldwide, recreational, sports and entertainment packages as well as driving class registration.
Asked what separates his business from other similar ones around, he says that it is his wealth of experience and going the extra mile to offer each customer that great personalized service. “It is also about understanding the product that I am selling and having made several contacts and worked within several networks and circles I am also able to secure some of the best prices around to our customers,” he adds.
Bernice Jean, who recently joined Travel and Leisure Centre, describes the move as quite natural, since it was a dream she longed to share with Popo. She comes with 19 years of experience in the business and says her greatest satisfaction is bringing a smile to her customers’ satisfied faces.
She recounts her journey in the field: “I entered the business as a junior agent and over the years I gained the relevant training by attending a number of courses locally and in Trinidad. I then moved into supervising the ticketing department with one of the agencies that I worked with previously, and was also a trainee manager with responsibility for corporate clients at another travel agency.”
Jean describes herself as very passionate about what she does and enjoys offering the extra support and services to clients that would make their vacation or travel plans so much more hassle free and enjoyable.
The pair says that it is all about the customer, listening to them, going the extra mile and always willing to learn along the way. Making every single one feel special and paying attention to their individual needs is also something they say that comes naturally at Travel and Leisure Centre, where the motto is “One destination in mind … yours!”