with Nicolé Mazza, Executive Vice-President, TravelSavers
TravelSavers is now a major international retail player, but with the Mazzas at the helm it remains a family business. Open Jaw spoke to Nicole Mazza, Executive Vice-President, in Panama.
What takes you to Panama? I’m at Marriott’s annual travel partners conference.
I get the impression you travel a lot! Yes, 8-10 days a month.
Where were you born? In New York, Brooklyn. Why don’t I sound like I’m from Brooklyn? My mom definitely ensured that didn’t happen!
How long have you been in the business? 23 years. My father started the company 49 years ago – we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary next year. It’ll be a huge deal.
How many TravelSavers locations are there? About 3,000 worldwide – 280 in Canada.
How many staff? About 200 in our office in Oyster Bay, NY, across our 18 brands and the call centres.
What’s the best part of the job? The people I work with. We truly are one big family with both my sister and my brother in the company. Dad is still working, and is our Acting President and CEO.
What did you want to be as a kid? An architect.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Oh my goodness, I am not a risk taker by any means. But must say I have a big fear of heights and went ziplining in Jackson Hole with one of my sons recently.
Any guilty pleasures? Food, food and more food. Give me a good pasta or cheese board with great bread and I’m in heaven!
What’s your favourite airline? We are preferred with DL and travel with them 90% of the time -- they do a great job.
What’s on your tablet? A lot of podcasts, books. I love murder mysteries and self-help books.
What do people not know about you? My early career was all art-based, my undergraduate was in graphic art. I oversee our art department and love doing that, which is why we have it in-house.
Any hobbies or interests? Reading. Travelling. Family. Long drives together. When the family travels together we are 14 in all!
When were you happiest? Now. I have a great family and a job that I love. My boys, aged 12 and 9, are healthy.
What would you tell your 20 year old self? Learn as much as you can. Surround yourself with good people.
Who do you most admire in the industry? My father. His entrepreneurial way -- he looks at things differently, like a great visionary, very strong and fair in everything in life. Even when we were young. I’ll pitch an idea to him and he’ll say “Let’s try it for a year.”
What skill or talent do you admire in someone? My role is heavily in negotiations so I admire people skills, the ability to read someone and communicate.
What’s at the top of your bucket list? I have never been to Prague. I love Europe, art and history.
Ever had a brush with fame? I have, very oddly, I’ve run into (Aerosmith singer) Steven Tyler four times in hotel lobbies!
What keeps you awake at night? Always business! Ensuring that we are doing the right thing for our industry, that crazy industry that we are in. And of course ensuring we are making the right decisions for our kids.
How do you spend your frequent flyer points? Family travel. All family travel.
What is your greatest extravagance? Travel. And I have a thing for decorating, and for art.
How do you stay fit when you travel? Getting up in the morning! Today I watched a yoga class from my balcony -- does that count? (Laughs.) Actually, I like to walk.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? A lot of factors, consolidation, aging industry. Attracting new, younger people. Higher visibility of travel professionals.
If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? (Motivational speaker) Tony Robbins, I’m fascinated by him. I’d love to suck up his energy level.
Do you have a favourite charity? Autism Speaks.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Still in this crazy industry. I really love it. I have a lot more years in me – especially if I go at the pace my father does!