with Susan Bowman, VP, Marketing & Industry Relations, TDC

Open Jaw

Susan Bowman

Where were you born? In Peterborough, Ont.

How long have you been in the business? (thinks) 38 years. Can that be right?

How many people work for you? I have 25 on my team, serving 450 Marlin, Club Voyages, TravelPlus and Voyages en Liberté agencies which employ 3,650 travel consultants. We have 60 preferred partners, and hundreds of others that we sell.

What’s the best part of the job? Because we are the largest leisure travel company in Canada – that’s how we think of ourselves – the team can be highly engaged in creating value for the network.

What did you want to be as a kid? (laughs) I had no idea until I started to travel mid-teens and got the travel bug then.

What was your first ever job? I worked for Strand Holidays as a sales rep from east of Yonge Street in Toronto to the Quebec border. I travelled around in my Go Bananas car - a white Impala with banana stickers all over it. I loved that car.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? I went solo skydiving and jumped out of an airplane at 3,600 feet. Why? Because I was 18 years old and young and foolish. Pretty scary.

Any guilty pleasures? I love to read and while I do read business books I enjoy reading all the latest novels as well as historical fiction.

What’s your favourite airline? Transat! Apart from them? Porter.

Favourite hotel chain? That would be too dangerous to say!

What’s on your phone? Besides all of the work apps, I have Spotify and Instagram.

What do people not know about you? This is always a good one: I was married in a group wedding in Cook County Courthouse in Illinois. It’s a very long story!

Any hobbies or interests? I’m a walker: I try to do 10,000 steps a day, even when I travel. I also love to cook and be on the lake at my cottage.

When were you happiest? At my cottage.

What would you tell your 20 year old self? “Don’t work so hard and have more fun.”

Who do you most admire in the industry? Jean-Marc Eustache (Chairman of the Board and CEO of Transat Inc.)

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? Leadership, because good leadership is such an asset.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? I’d like to do Vietnam and Cambodia. I’ve never been to Asia.

What keeps you awake at night? Nothing.

What is your greatest extravagance? Last year we built a new cottage, for both my husband and me that was our greatest extravagance.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? Just one? Where do I start? I feel that for the work that we do, our entire industry is not well compensated, leading to all kinds of problems including too thin margins. We are all pushing the same pennies around the plate.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? My daughter Randall. And my husband Mike!

What kind of car do you drive? A BMW. Without bananas!

Do you have a favourite charity? The Arthritis Society.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? Consumer confidence, given the erratic terrorism striking everywhere. People are fairly resilient but if there’s too much it can turn demand down.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Spending my summers at the cottage. With a good book!

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