Lawrence Elliott, Group Vice President, Business & Corporate Affairs, Sunwing Travel Group

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Seaforth, an hour north of London.  I grew up in tiny Brucefield where my dad was a farmer.

How long have you been in the business?  Since 1975, when I started at Skylark as sales rep for Eastern & Northern Ontario.

What has been the best part of the job? The people here. It might sound corny, but it is a family.

What did you want to be as a kid? (Laughs) In advertising or travel.

What was your 1st ever job? Cutting grass when I was about 11 – for a buck a lawn. Then when I was 14 I helped out delivering appliances for a furniture store. Growing up on a farm, though, I was driving the tractor from the age of 14.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Almost drowning, in Lake Huron, when I was a stupid 15 year old.

Any guilty pleasures? I love my cigars. I’ve got some great Dominicans and Cubans. I have 4 humidors so I try different ones, depending on the occasion. And wine. And  whisky.

What’s your favourite airline? If it’s not Sunwing, when I fly to Europe I always fly BA.

What’s on your tablet? Some Netflix, my sports apps. I have to follow the Jays and the Leafs!

What do people not know about you? Probably my background as a farm boy, doing the chores before I went to school in the morning.

When are you happiest? When I’m with my extended family.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? Honesty. Don’t jerk me around, just tell me the truth. I detest liars – I’d rather have someone steal from me.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Oh man!  It’s so long! I’d love to trace my mother’s side of the family in her little village in Norway.

What keeps you awake at night? Worrying about the children, as always, even though they are 35, 30, 29 and 24!

How do you spend your frequent flyer points?  Two ways: sometimes I take my wife with me on a business trip, and I have accumulated a lot for my retirement.

What is your greatest extravagance? Wine!

How have you stayed fit when you travel? I do some exercises and stretches – I’ve never been a gym rat.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? More early bookings. It has plagued us for 40 years.

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

Do you have a favourite charity?  The Sunwing Foundation. Also I support the Canadian-Dominican Ray of Hope which helps physically and mentally challenged kids near Puerto Plata.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? Nothing new: it’s over capacity.

What do you hope to be doing in retirement? Continuing to travel, relax, enjoy my boat. And smoking cigars!

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