Biting Questions with Alan Zakka, General Manager Eastern Canada Sales, Air Canada Vacations

Open Jaw

Where were you born?  In Toronto. I’ve lived here all my life.

How long have you been in the business?  Since 1987! I graduated from Ryerson with a business degree and started with Regent Holidays as a sales rep. It’s kind of gone full circle as I’m now back in sales for a tour operator. In between I worked at my dad’s agency, Skyventure, at Ultimate Golf and Ski, Holiday Market Travel and TripCentral.

How many people work for you? In sales, we are 7.

What’s the best part of the job so far? Mentoring, coaching, communicating with my area sales managers and inside sales team.

What did you want to be as a kid? Like every kid, a fireman.

What was your 1st job? I caddied at an exclusive private country club when I was 13. Good tips? Absolutely!

Any guilty pleasures? Cheesecake.

What’s your favourite airline? Air Canada -  and that’s been since before I started working here. I’ve flown Sunwing once, and Transat, but always if I had a choice I’d fly AC or rouge. Here at ACV 60 to 70% of our lift is rouge.

Favourite hotel? I like all the Fairmonts.

What’s on your iPad? Books, magazines.

What do people not know about you? I’m an involved coach in hockey and baseball with my boys who are 15 and 12.

Any hobbies or interests? I golf and do fantasy football.

When were you happiest?  When my 1st son was born.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? Time management skills.

Is there anything you won’t eat? No. I’d even try monkey brains – you only live once!

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Skiing a black diamond run at Mont Ste. Anne. Wish I could say it was in Switzerland.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? A South Pacific cruise.

Ever had a brush with fame? Several hockey players including Darryl Sittler.

What keeps you awake at night? Too much caffeine!

How do you spend your frequent flyer points? Football and golf weekends.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? Less capacity.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Hmm. John F. Kennedy.

Do you have a favourite charity? Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? The economy and the sliding dollar.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Working in travel!

(will not be published)