TITLE: National Sales Manager, Canada
YEARS IN TRAVEL: 15
How did you land at G Adventures?
In November 2010, I participated in an agent FAM trip to Ecuador with my previous employer. It was a real eye-opener: we stepped way off the tourist path and embraced the local culture, customs and surroundings. I knew I wanted to be a part of this and literally came home and applied for a job. Shortly after, I landed a role as a Global Purpose Specialist (GPS) and the rest is history.
Is a true passion for travel necessary to do your job?
For sure. You should definitely love the idea of travel to work in travel; you need to want to understand cultures, learn about the history of others and want to see how we can all learn from and appreciate one another, regardless of our differences.
G Adventures has a very strong social consciousness; how does that inform your work?
G Adventures’ social SEAN RUSSO Leading with service consciousness is super important to me and every employee within the organization. Our founder Bruce Poon Tip always says, “Other people run great trips too” and he is right. What makes us different is our culture, our people and our commitment to supporting and empowering local communities through tourism.
What kinds of things does a “national sales manager” do?
I’m based out of our Global Head Office, also known as Base Camp, in Toronto, but I have the opportunity to join the team of GPSs across the country on discovery meetings with our agent partners and consumers. I also represent G Adventures at international conferences and on agent fams, but my main focus is to work with and develop our team of eight experienced and passionate GPSs across Canada. We do not want to be your typical travel company or travel representatives. I work with the team to uncover opportunities that are impactful with our agent partners and travellers. Furthermore, it is my responsibility to ensure that these GPSs are engaged with our global organization and feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
In what ways do you specifically help travel counsellors sell G Adventures?
Our GPSs are unique people and approach relationship cultivation and management with the agent community differently than your traditional business development manager. Our team focuses on the agent and the agency; we ask them what their goals and aspirations are and tailor our conversations accordingly. For instance, if the agency has a goal to increase their cruising business, what benefit would it be to speak about our latest active experiences? We are very appreciative of the time they’ve given us; our goal is to show them how partnering with G Adventures can help them reach their personal and agency goals while giving their clients an award-winning travel experience.
You started as a GPS. How does that background help you now?
Simply said, I’ve been in my team’s shoes before. A lot of times you have “managers” who are great at “managing” but are so far removed from the day-to-day role of their employees. I have the ability to relate, understand and offer suggestions based on what might have worked for me in the past.
Any tips for agents?
You never know unless you ask. I always encourage our team to throw out suggestions to their agent partners, but the big opportunity is really for the agent to explore new ideas as well. The big trend for our agent partners right now is with private groups, which give them the chance to create a standalone departure for themselves. Our team of GPSs also love consumer events and private group talks. We can work with agencies to help them build the excitement with their clients.
You’ve been described as someone who “leads with service.” How does one do that?
Thank you to whomever said that! ‘Lead with service’ is one of our core values here at G Adventures. With this, I want to be as helpful as possible with whomever I interact with. I began my career in the travel industry as a travel agent. My biggest pet peeve was when I tried to reach out to a representative with a question and/or concern and did not hear back from them for an extended period of time (or ever). I vowed that when I was on the other side of the table that I would be different and have been. I clearly communicate with the inquisitor and acknowledge their inquiry. We’re committed to supporting the agent community as their success is our success.
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WHY DID G ADVENTURES DECIDE TO PROFILE SEAN?
Sean Russo has been selected as one of G Adventures’ best and brightest due to his dedication and commitment. Starting as a Global Purpose Specialist (GPS) before moving into his current role, Sean has over 15 years of experience in various roles within the hospitality and tourism business, focusing on consumer engagement and team building. Whether he is working with one of G Adventures’ partners, a travel professional or a colleague, Sean has always gone above and beyond to ‘lead with service’ and elevate those around him. His relationships within the travel industry are a testament to all of his hard work and how well respected he is within the community.
– G Adventures
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