Laura Sampson: 'Remember to have fun!'
Get to know Laura Sampson, Senior Travel Counsellor, Group Sales, with Frontiers North Adventures.
Laura Sampson's career in tourism began over 20 years ago when she was a teenager working as a server in a local restaurant and later as a front desk attendant at a small hotel. She'd go on to graduate from the Tourism and Hospitality program at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba and secure a co-op placement at a costume museum, a position Sampson says cemented how she felt about the industry.
Eventually, Sampson transitioned to another co-op placement with Frontiers North Adventures, a tour operator that specializes in hosting adventure-seekers in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
"16 years later, I'm still with Frontiers North and continue to love being able to help guests achieve their dream to dine beneath the northern lights, sing alongside beluga whales and to lock eyes with wild polar bears," Said Sampson, who now works as Senior Travel Counsellor, Group Sales. "Since joining the team, I can say that I love my decision and haven't looked back once."
Sampson enjoys seeing groups get up close and personal with Churchill.
"Regardless of the season they choose, we have something that's truly awe-inspiring—whether that's by kayaking alongside beluga whales, dog sledding with a local Indigenous dog musher or waking up with polar bears roaming outside their window at the Tundra Buggy Lodge," she said, noting that connecting with traveling groups and other industry professionals are highlights of her position.
"I love meeting and sharing the magic of Churchill with people from around the globe. Hearing their stories and why they chose Churchill is always a great pleasure and makes me proud of what we do," Sampson said, adding that Frontiers North is also now taking people to Churchill from Calgary, a new departure option the team is excited to offer.
Throughout the years, Sampson has noticed how easier access to information has changed client behavior.
"This has led to very smart, self-sufficient customers who are able to use digital tools to answer questions or even fully book their trip, rather than calling directly," she said. "This has really evolved the sales tactics we're using and the materials we use to connect with our audience."
After years in the industry, lessons for Sampson abound. The one that rises to the surface? Truly listen to what your client is saying.
"Taking the time to be patient and fully understanding their needs and wants. Then, you're able to offer the best experience for them," Sampson explained. "Everybody is different, especially when building trips for preformed groups. While it might be tempting to recycle old trip itineraries for new groups, it's important to recognize that taking the time to personalize the experience can make a huge difference to the client when making the ultimate decision of booking their trip."
Ultimately, Sampson's advice for industry newcomers is simple: Mistakes happen.
"We have the good fortune of getting to wake up every day and help people plan their dream trip. It's important to remember to stay positive and to keep moving forward," she said. "While it's easy to get stressed in these types of roles, it's important to take a step back and remember to have fun."
MORE ABOUT LAURA:
Though Sampson loves to travel, she's not a fan of flying on airplanes!
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Sep/Oct '24 issue of Groups Today.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Sampson.