with Carolyn Weppler, VP Sales, Goway Travel

There’s no doubt about it: this industry exec has travel in her blood. She started flying before she could walk and now has some 70 countries “under her belt.” 

Where were you born? In Hong Kong. My Mum, a Canadian, worked for Cathay Pacific Airlines and my Dad, who was born in the U.K., was the editor of the South China Morning Post. By the time I was 2, I had travelled around the world twice to amazing places like Afghanistan, the Czech Republic, Turkmenistan. Sadly no memories though!

How long have you been in the business? For 34 years. Before Goway I started with an incentive company and then worked in retail. But I soon learned I wasn’t made to sell ITCs.

How many people work for you? My direct reports are six, and at Goway we have 150 staff in all. We are built on six destination units: Down Under, Idyllic Islands, Europe, Africa, Asia plus South and Central America. Plus our groups and air departments. 

What’s the best part of the job? The travel! I recently came back from Kenya and Tanzania, and last year travelled to Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France. I’m on my way to Costa Rica this month. I’ve been to about 70 countries and can say I literally live to travel.    

What did you want to be as a kid? I can’t remember! But travel is so much in my blood that working in the industry was inevitable. There was never any question.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Travelling the Karakorum Highway between Pakistan and China in 1998, taking two weeks by overland truck. It’s very famous because so many people died making it. Definitely scary.

Any guilty pleasures? Wine. And cheese. 

What’s your favourite airline? Air Canada. Because I love non-stop flights, I love Premium Economy and I’ve had pretty good experiences with them.

Favourite hotel chain? Fairmont: every single staff member anticipates what you need even before you need it. They are phenomenal.

What’s on your tablet? A lot of e-books – historical fiction and crime.

What do people not know about you? I used to be a downhill ski racer - I am still a passionate skier.

Any hobbies or interests? Skiing, photography, travel, food, cooking.   

When were you happiest? On a mountain in Whistler, skiing. 

What would you tell your 20-year-old self? “Be patient.”

Who do you most admire in the industry? Would it be alright to say (Goway founder) Bruce Hodge? He and his family have dedicated themselves to growing Goway from a tiny little office to what it is today, surviving through recessions, 9/11, and airline collapses. He’s steered us. And he’s a really nice, down-to-earth guy.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? Artistic creativity. 

What’s at the top of your bucket list? South Africa.

Anything you won’t eat? Mushrooms.

What keeps you awake at night? Work. (laughs)

How do you spend your frequent flyer points? Visiting my Mum in Sarasota and flying to Whistler to ski.

What is your greatest extravagance? My wardrobe.  Purses and shoes in particular - though I hate high heels.

How do you stay fit when you travel? Yoga and running.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? I’d make flying glamorous again, do away with all the basic fares and have seat selection, meals, blankets, pillows and a checked bag included again!  

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? If she were still alive, writer Alice Munro. For a living person, I’d choose Margaret Atwood, another Canadian writer.

Do you have a favourite charity? The Lymphoma Society.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months?  The U.S. election.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Retired and travelling the world!

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