Stéphanie Bishop announced her retirement earlier in March, breaking the news that after 15 years as managing director of the Globus family of brands’ Toronto office, she will be moving on to retirement in May. Bishop spoke with TMR about the decision to retire and what is next for her.
Bishop started her career in Montreal, her hometown, as a salesperson in the contact center for Canada’s Wardair airline, which was acquired and folded into Canadian Airlines in 1990. At the time, she was hired to fill a summer, seasonal position. She started in April and by July, they asked her to permanently join the sales department, which she did. Not long after, she was then asked to help build its first group department, which she did.
It was a lot of new responsibilities in a short period of time for Bishop who, at that age, did not have the level of experience she has today. But it was the confidence in herself, and the confidence in her from other people, that allowed her to succeed.
“I was fortunate that people saw in me more than what I saw in me as a young professional,” she said. “A lot of people are mentored and have very specific goals. I am and was very self-driven. I am also one of those people that always loved what they did and I could never do anything just 75% or 90%. I loved the people and the challenges that were presented to me were beyond my expectations.”
Bishop didn’t jump companies during her 40-plus year career, but the period after Wardair made it seem like that. She left Wardair to go to Holiday House, which merged to become Holiday Network, and then merged again to become North American Leisure Group, before being acquired by Thomas Cook. It was a lot of change in a short time for Bishop, a period marked by shifting responsibilities and titles and colleagues. It was also a time of growth.
“Personally, I actually like change. It forces you to push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of doing,” Bishop told TMR this week. “It was quite the ride to go through that process and probably one of the better situations for me as a young person to develop. Nothing was ever the same. We would get one thing done and then all of a sudden, we would have to do things differently. It forces you to learn and to grow – it was really good.”
One of her roles during this period came when Holiday House bought Encore Cruises, which, at that time, was the biggest Canadian cruise wholesaler. She knew very little about cruising, she told TMR and was all of a sudden sitting at the same table as Vanessa Lee, one of the Canadian travel industry’s most iconic figures.
“Here I was taking over the business that she grew for 30 years in Canada. I was never intimidated but I think, for me, I’ve always been self-confident and that’s really key. I knew I would learn through the process and that’s what happened.”
Self-confidence, which Bishop says is something she believes can’t be taught, was one of the things that carried her along the way. She told TMR that even in her young career as a BDM, she was curious by nature, and she didn’t shy away from taking on new responsibilities, no matter how foreign they may have seemed at the time.
“You can’t teach self-confidence. A big thing that helped me was that I wasn’t ever afraid of trying something different,” she said.
Moving to Globus
Bishop had zero river cruise line experience when she was approached by Globus to join the team. “I did not know why they wanted me,” she laughed. “But I got it after the first year.”
She already had a strong, personal brand and a glowing reputation in Canada and brought that with her to her new role. She saw that there was a “huge opportunity” to elevate the Globus brand in Canada, which became her mission during her career at Globus and particularly during the last 15 years as the managing director of the Globus family of brands’ Toronto office.
During her time at Globus, and before, Bishop had always placed a high value on the travel agency community.
“To sell a river cruise, to sell a coach tour, you got to have a solid foundation and network of advisors,” she said, adding that it’s both suppliers and consumers who owe their own, personal success or happiness to the trade.
“A consumer walks into a travel agent they will very rarely say they want to book a tour to Italy. They will say ‘I want to go to Tuscany and do this or try that.’ For the travel advisor that has experience they’ll have to convert the wants and needs to tour – the good advisors will do that.”
Even with all her success during her time at Globus, there were some hard times, too. Canada was essentially shut down for three years during the pandemic, and she learned during that time how important communication was with the travel agency community.
It was a difficult three years, the most difficult of her career. Still, even though she was close to retirement, she never considered leaving until now when the industry is strong and her team at Globus is ready to take the reins.
“There was never a good time to leave, but I feel we are in such a good position. I didn’t during COVID, we put in a lot of sweat and tears and I wanted to feel that we’re making a difference. When you are in need you need to make sure you’re out there and helping people. We’re making a difference for all the advisors out there now,” she said.
Bishop, a self-described nature aficionado who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, does have some plans after her time at Globus officially wraps up at the end of May—rafting down Canada’s Nahanni River in July.
After that, she’s excited about what’s to come.
“I do have a blank canvas in front of me but I am okay with that. When you are so busy you don’t have time for other things, and now I do,” she said.