With Sue Urie Business Solutions Manager for TL Network (formerly vacation.com) in Western Canada.

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In London, Ont. I’ve lived in the west since 1970

How long have you been in the business? Since 1973, when I started as a reservations agent at Wardair at their head office in Edmonton. What a great airline. That was the “old days” pre-computer and we had to use telexes and a lot of paper. What a wild time to get into the business. Loved it.

What’s the best part of your job now? The relationships I have with the members and preferred partners, definitely. I’ve been with TL now since June 2006.

What did you want to be as a kid? Oh, I wanted to be an artist (laughs) and then a vet, and then a lawyer. I had a lot of aspirations!

What was your first ever job? When I was in high school, I was a part time telephone operator with Yellow Cab company in Toronto.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? I accepted a position with an airline that didn’t have an aircraft yet. What? It was called Points of Call and we did become fully operational, doing charters for Fiesta Holidays. Lots of Mexico and Hawaii.

Any guilty pleasures? Probably chocolate. Everyone notices that the desserts at my events are always chocolate.

What’s your favourite airline? Domestically, I tend to use WestJet and think they’re great. And I like Alaska Airlines and Air NZ. Their safety videos are phenomenal.

Favourite hotel chain? I lean towards Hilton, and Fairmont is definitely a fave, when I can.

What’s on your tablet? More work than pleasure, definitely!

What do people not know about you? I ran two adult business colleges in my past – with, among others, travel and tourism courses.

Any hobbies or interests? I love art and music so I paint and go to concerts all the time. I love reading too, especially biographies and autobiographies.

When were you happiest? Probably in my 30s, because I was in love and pretty well at the pinnacle of a career with really good days all round. A bit more balanced life.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Galapagos.

Ever had a brush with fame? Quite a number, especially in sports. I dated Wayne Gretzky’s manager for several years and got to know the Oilers and I played racquetball with half of the Edmonton Eskimos!

What keeps you awake at night? I actually have chronic insomnia and am famous for sending out emails at 3 a.m.!

What do you do for your vacations? I usually travel to BC or to Jasper.

What is your greatest extravagance? I’d have to say shoes. How many pairs do I have? No idea!

How do you stay fit when you travel? I do a lot of walking and try to eat healthy.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? The people who are blasé and complacent need to rethink their careers, quite frankly, and unfortunately there’s a lot of people like that. Agents need to be savvy and not just expect the phone to ring.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Not that I’m a fan, but I’d like to get to know Donald Trump. The man is off the charts…I’d like to see if he’s real or if he’s crazy. What we’re seeing is kind of horrifying.

What kind of car do you drive? A Honda Civic.

Do you have a favourite charity? The SPCA - anything to do with animals. I also work with CANDI, a rescue service for dogs and cats in the third world where we bring animals to North America.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? Several: Trying to overcome the doom and gloom…the terror attacks and earthquakes have been devastating. The loonie, and there’s still some overcapacity. And the age of people who are in this business – we need more young people.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Retired and painting, travelling, happy to do some consulting work part time. That would be perfect!

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