Wendy Paradis Takes The Helm At ACTA

by Chris Ryall

Wendy Paradis speaking at the Travel Market Place conference in Toronto on Monday.

When Wendy Paradis steps into the role of president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents this month, succeeding David McCaig, it will be the culmination of a love of travel that started when she was 16.

Since her first trip to London with a high-school friend gave her a serious dose of the travel bug, Paradis has spent 30 years in the travel, tourism, and association sectors, working with Eaton's Travel, Marlin Travel, The Thomas Cook Group, CAA Travel, and the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation. She started as a travel agent and then progressed through travel-agency manager, national manager of corporate travel, regional director of travel sales and operations, and vice president of OTEC, polishing her skills as a strategic planner, team leader, and relationship builder.

What intrigued her most about the ACTA post was “the opportunity to work in an industry that I am passionate about, in a position that I can continue to grow personally and professionally with a chance to make a difference,” she told Travel Market Report. “The fact that I ‘get’ and have great respect for the role travel agents play in the consumer’s travel experience gives me that extra drive to be successful at leading the association that represents these professionals across the country.”

Her goal is to ensure that travel agents “have a strong voice and thrive within a complex and changing environment, and to get non-members to buy into the value proposition that ACTA offers their business while continuing to deliver on the expectations of our existing members."

On the Agenda: Listening and Learning
Even before officially starting the job this week, Paradis has been speaking with, and listening to, key partners across the country. Of course she will be attending ACTA's Annual General Meeting with the Board of Directors in Toronto this month.  After that, the top item on her agenda will be to get to know her new team, and to meet with members and partners to get an in-depth understanding of their priorities. Watch for her to be visiting members across the country, to hear your voices first-hand.

ACTA’s most important role, Paradis believes, is serving as an advocate for the travel-agency community, and ensuring that it “continues to have a strong voice within a complex and changing environment.” Another challenge will be to get non-members to buy into the value proposition that ACTA offers their businesses, while at the same time continuing to deliver on the expectations of existing members.

And of course she hopes to continue to build on ACTA’s close relationship with other travel associations, such as the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance, of which it is a founding member.

“There are many synergies between the sister associations worldwide, and I look forward to continuing to nurture all of these relationships,” she said. “But with the U.S. being our closest ally and neighbor, a little more emphasis” will be put on the relationship with ASTA.

“The travel industry experiences such rapid change due to so many factors,” she said. “Technology enhancements that affect retail distribution, regulatory issues, world events, and the fluctuation of the Canadian dollar each creates challenges for our membership in its own way.”

Still, though, she foresees “both a bright and challenging future for Canadian travel agents. This industry in particular experiences rapid change, and it is very important that we pay close attention to upcoming trends and proactively anticipate our customers’ future needs and expectations.” 

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