with George Platanitis, Vice- President of Sales & Partnerships, Air Canada Vacations

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Montreal, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Toronto.

How long have you been in the business? Over 20 years, starting with credit card loyalty travel programs.   

How many countries have you visited? Most of the Caribbean, 6 or 7 in Europe. Call it 20.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? In Acapulco I went cliff-diving. Not at the level of the pros, but it is pretty scary when you face the rocks. Heart stopping to say the least!

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Hong Kong, for the culture, the shopping, the cuisine and its impact on the world’s economy and perspective

What’s your favourite airline – after AC, of course? Lufthansa. They do it right, they’re a global player. The way they treat customers, their professionalism – they are very refined.

Favourite hotel? I’m a Starwood guy – for example, in Toronto I stay at the Harbour Castle because they make you feel special - and I love their loyalty program. 

Speaking of loyalty programs, how many do you belong to? 7 or 8, from groceries to retail to airlines. Like most Canadians I’m a points junkie.  Did you know that after Australians, we are the biggest fans of loyalty programs in the world?  

What do people not know about you? That I’m an avid coin collector. It’s been a passion ever since I was a kid. I have thousands of them.

Is there anything you won’t eat? I’m a gamer, I’ll try anything once. Weirdest I guess was frog legs. Everyone says, “They taste like chicken.” Not to me they don’t!

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

Favourite charity? No brainer: The Red Cross.

What’s on your device? All music, from top 40 to classic rock. That’s my music at the gym every day. 

What would you like to change about the industry? We have to be more accepting of change.  We want to dictate to the customer how to book, but to adapt and flourish we need to change the customer touch points.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months?  Exactly that. The customer has choices and we have to maintain our first position with that customer during the onset of technology.  I don’t know if we are really listening now.

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