Father’s Day Week At Open Jaw: Rocky & Vincent Racco

Open Jaw
It's the time of year when the greeting card stores go crazy as we rifle through racks of cards and rush out to get Dad a cheesy BBQ apron. But there are some of us who have more than the usual reason to be grateful to Dad: he inspired us to get into the travel industry. This week we'll chat with 5 sons and daughters whose fathers lead them into the travel biz.

Not everyone can boast that his dad is a mentor in the workplace as well as a fashion inspiration! Let's chat with Rocky Racco, CEO of Toronto mega-agency TTI, about his father Vincent, founder of TTI predecessors E Rocco Travel & Dufferin Travel.

“My dad is a man who everyone loves. He has a warm and inviting personality - everyone comments about him, he's the consummate gentleman. Always courteous in the old-fashioned way, and always immaculately dressed.

“He was originally in the real estate business here in Toronto, where he started serving the Italian community. My parents took us on a family holiday back to Italy when I was 11 and my mother was less than impressed with the service provided by the travel agent, so she suggested we start up a travel agency. So we did just that, within my father's very successful real estate office at Dufferin and St. Clair, in the heart of Toronto's Little Italy. We were a one-stop-shopping spot for the Italian community, and also helped with income tax returns.

“I studied commerce at the University of Toronto but left after 3 years and knocked on my parents' door, asking for a job in the travel agency. They said “no, you don't want to be in this schmuck business". But, being stubborn, I made my way in. There wasn't a lot for me to do, but one day I read the trade papers and noticed a Carousel Tours FAM to the Bahamas for $99, and that's when my travelling really started. I did a lot of FAMs, got an acute understanding of the business and developed a strong supplier network.

“My dad realized I didn't want to just sell tickets to Italy, so I brought in more vacation travel, corporate travel, and jumped into the bridal market with a division called 'Just Honeymoons.'

“Though he now has alzheimer's, Dad worked up until the age of 75, still doing ticket deliveries for TTI. It's a family legend that at one of our Sunday family dinners he took me aside and said, 'I've been in this country 60 years, working 6 days a week and I think it's time for me to retire.' And I replied, 'Dad you are so lucky because tomorrow I was going to fire you.' And he grinned and said, 'You are always such a joker.'

“I'm like my dad in that we are very social, love story-telling – and have a firey side to our personality! But I also try to be an old-world gentleman, like him."

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