Gill International Travels is a household name for the Lower Mainland’s South Asian community traveling to India or any corner of the world. They started reuniting families when frequent travel to the home country was a distant dream. Their first office was opened in February 1982 in Malton, Ontario by its founder Mr. Lakhvinder (Lucky) Grewal. The Vancouver branch was established in the year 1992 by the forward-looking Paul Gill who wanted to expand the company’s decade old expertise in travel beyond Toronto.
The Lower Mainland office, which is currently located on Scott Road is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. On this occasion, Paul Gill, vice president, Gill Travels, traveled back in time to share the journey of this company.
Paul, was born in Ludhiana, Punjab. Since childhood he dreamt big to explore the boundaries of the world beyond India. His first contact with Canada started when he started interacting with his uncles who had established themselves in Canada. The next bond with this country came when he got married to Raj who had already moved to Canada with her parents as a teenager. Paul landed in Vancouver after marriage in 1989. But after spending few weeks here, he joined his uncle’s office in Toronto. “I mastered travel trade there for 3 years, but somehow at the back of my mind I wanted to come back to Vancouver to expand the company. Me and my wife returned to Vancouver and opened Gill Travels branch in 1992 on Fraser and 50th.”
Paul says that he got his first major break in 1993 when Air Canada started 4 flights per week from Vancouver to New Delhi via London. “We got the contract for Air Canada and we never looked back. Eventually within a year we started getting contracts from all other Major carriers and Gill international Travels became a household name to our South Asian community of Vancouver.”
Currently it is one of the largest network of travel agencies in Canada with total of 12 branches in Ontario, Alberta and BC. Company has net sales of over 50 million annually. We are fully authorized agents for
almost 30 major airlines having the best net air fares with such as Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Emirates, Jet Airways and All the major Chinese Carriers. “We have always exceeded any sales and financial targets as requirements of the airlines,” Paul says.
The Company is General Sales Agent for Spice Jet for Canada and is responsible for sales and marketing activities of the airlines as well as authorized to appoint sales agents in Canada. Though the company’s main customer base is those traveling to visit family and friends in India, USA, London and Europe, it also offers specialized custom holiday packages for India from Leh in Northern India to Kanyakumari in South. “We also offer specialized tours to Gurudwaras in Pakistan.”
So, at a time when traveling is just a click away and there are so many options for a traveler, what makes Gill Travels so special and stand apart to be a traveler’s first choice? “I think we are well established and have an excellent track record to serving ethnic level needs. Also, we never waiver with time and competition. Our priority is to serve our customers honestly. No wonder the customer is very well informed now. I think it makes our job more interesting because things are easier to explain. Also, the client base has increased. Earlier on an average a person would travel long distance once in three years and short distance one in an year. But for the current generation traveling is not a luxury, but a necessity. On an average, a person is travelling three times a year. we are living in a very interesting time dealing with one of the fastest growing industries with 3% growth per annum,” Paul informs.
Paul points out that besides financial and numerical growth, the emotional support of his family especially his wife Raj and a great office team has made him stand apart. “My wife has helped me grow this company since day one. If I am the public face, my wife is the backbone.” Along with nurturing three young daughters, Raj takes care of the accounts and day-to-day operations of Gill international Travels.