After 16 years of success with “the travel industry’s biggest mouthpiece,” Open Jaw co-founder Suzanne Christie has announced her retirement, effective today.
Partner and co-founder Nina Slawek has purchased Christie’s shares in the business and will continue to wear several hats on both the business and content sides of the company. Bruce Parkinson will continue in his role of aggregating content for a daily news package, as well as writing original stories and the website’s popular Headliner supplier features.
Renowned commentator Ivanna Gabbalot has suggested she could take over Christie’s role and “fluff it up a bit,” but no official announcement has been made on that front.
Christie and Slawek founded Open Jaw 16 years ago. The pair were colleagues at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, where Christie was District Sales Manager for Ontario.
The pair had decided to employ the fast-emerging power of the Internet to give Canada’s travel agents a source of daily news and information, and travel suppliers a new, high-tech way to communicate with the agents who present their products to consumers.
Despite major changes in the industry over the past 16 years, Open Jaw has maintained its relevance and posted its best-ever financial results in 2016.
After more than 40 years in travel and tourism, Christie says she’s ready to move on to another phase in her life. Suzanne says she’s not exactly sure what that will entail as yet, but she says, “This is so surreal! Creating and operating Open Jaw with Nina has been the most amazing experience. I am going to miss all the laughing and gnashing of teeth over the business’s and life’s issues each day. It’s hard to say goodbye to my dear partner as well as to Bruce and Caroline. We have had such an amazing team. I’ll also miss all of our dear pumpkins and might even miss Ivanna a little bit. I wish Nina and all the folks that contribute to the Jaw continued success.”
For Slawek, Christie’s departure marks the end of nearly 20 years of working closely together on a daily basis. The pair has enjoyed working together and traveling together as well as raising money for charity together – Open Jaw’s WinterBoob raised close to $500,000 in the fight against breast cancer.
“It feels like a time warp,” says Slawek. We started planning Open Jaw 17 years ago and couldn’t wait to launch the 1st Canadian trade website. And overnight we find ourselves at this crossroad. It’s been an incredible experience to build a business based on an idea with a like-minded partner who rowed just as hard as you did. The good news is I have Suzanne’s cell on speed dial.”
Slawek says Open Jaw will continue in its role of providing the Canadian travel industry with the news and information it needs to compete and stay current in a fast-changing marketplace.
“I have lots of exciting plans to build upon the strong foundation that Suzanne and I created. Open Jaw has been successful in building loyalty and a strong following among the Canadian and international travel industry, and it’s my goal to maintain and strengthen relationships with our readers, viewers, listeners and advertisers.”