with Mike Merrithew, Chairman and CEO of Merit Travel

How long have you been in the business? Since 1991 – we bought a small Uniglobe travel agency in Mississauga, and ran it with two full-time and one part-time agent. Today Merit has about just under 500 staff, including our 200 Travel CUTS staff.

Tell me about your first airplane ride. I started taking flying lessons when I was 14.  I still have my licence but haven’t flown for several years.

How has the business changed since you got into it? Oh man! The technology. When we bought the agency our big investment was having voicemail. Today we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on technology and innovation.

Going back to your recent acquisition of the CUTS travel group – what are your plans for them? I think it’s a tremendous brand with a great position in the marketplace. Stay tuned for at least one exciting announcement!

What’s your favourite airline? That’s very difficult to answer. But I am Air Canada Super Elite and have been extremely happy with the experience I have had on AC.

What did you want to be as a kid? Pilot was on my list, along with astronaut.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?  Shark diving in the Galapagos and Papua New Guinea. Scary and exhilarating!

Any hobbies or interests? Scuba diving is my biggest passion. And Formula 1 racing.  Also, I play golf – very badly.

What’s on your iPod?  (laughs) You mean the iPod I left behind on a flight back from Victoria a few months ago? Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Sinatra.

Whom do you most respect in the industry?  I have the utmost respect for Gerry Heifitz. , He was my lawyer and taught me a lot about the industry. He’s a legend.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?  For front line professionals to get the respect they deserve.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long haul flight who would it be?  The copilot!

What are you really bad at? Anything related to details!

What’s your favourite destination? I can’t wait to go back to Galapagos.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I’d like to be doing some diving, collecting cars.  But must say I love the variety of what I’m doing now.

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