Coral Perry first got into the travel industry in the early ’80s, working for such companies as Ted Cook Tours, Islands in the Sun and Bali Hai Hotels.
Today, the Vancouver-based travel pro is a business development manager for Canada at Fiji Airways, a role she’s held for the past 14 years.
Travel has always been her DNA.
“I have always yearned for new experiences and getting a taste of what the world of travel has to offer,” says Perry. “As soon as I was 18, I took off to explore traveling to Hawaii, Mexico, USA, England, Europe, Africa, and Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia (Croatia). I worked on boats cooking, waitress and as a bartender.“
At Fiji Airways, Perry spends her days making sales calls to Fiji Airways’ preferred accounts, reporting on investments and performance metrics, representing the company at meetings, trade functions and events, leveraging networking opportunities and creating awareness of the product and destinations.
“Our motto is ‘Business Unusual’ so there’s always something new to talk about,” she says.
Here, PAX Checks In with Perry to chat about the first vacation she ever took, mud crab and an expensive item she bought on a trip (and then lost a month later!)
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Coral Perry (CP): I always take carry-on with the essentials I’ll need for a 24-hour period. You never know when you’ll have a luggage delay. But the items I love to have with me are my Pure Fiji hand cream, socks, and Redoxon-B effervescent victims (helps with jet lag). Also, of course my computer, iPad and iPhone (pictures, pictures, pictures….
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
CP: Fiji. Still haven’t seen it all. There are so many options that Fiji has to offer even though I been travelling there for many years. Fiji really is where happiness finds you. The Fijian people have been voted by Conde Nast Traveller as some of the friendliest people in the world, and it really is true and genuine. The beauty of Fiji has something to offer everyone, whether you are backpacking or want to stay in a “7-star hotel” and everything in between. The culture and the different experiences that the country has to offer is really inspirational.
Zihuantanejo: there’s beautiful fishing village outside of Xtapa. If you want to escape the chain hotels and all-inclusives in Xtapa. This is a more boutique style vacation. I love going back to see friends that I have met over the years.
Islands of Tahiti. Still love and will go back anytime to visit friends.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
CP: Vancouver, for its tranquil, beautiful waterfalls and exceptional indigenous artwork. There are also some great restaurants.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
CP: Being in the travel industry promotes awareness of what the world has to offer. Being able to travel and talk about travel for a living is a truly lovely experience. Being able to promote these new experiences and passion to the destinations that I love is a wonderful situation to be in. I definitely have a real passion for Fiji and the other South Pacific islands.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
CP: Hawaii. I’d always wanted to travel to the tropical destination ever since I was very young. I went with six girlfriends and we had a blast. I still love Hawaii.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
CP: An Amethyst ring I bought in Australia and then lost it a month later!
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you ever eaten while travelling and where you ate it?
CP: Mud crab, which is a delicacy in Fiji and is found in the mangroves. The mud crab is one of the best shellfish you could wish for. It’s moist meat that is a cross between crab and lobster mostly found in the body and claws. It has a marvellously distinct and sweet flavour.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
CP: TSA! What else can I take off? Laptops in, laptops out, horizontal bucket or vertical, no liquids. It is always a little different in each country.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
CP: Taking beautiful pictures.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
CP: Window shade up! But every so often it needs to be down for a good movie, or so my preference doesn’t bother other passengers.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
CP: Meeting my god daughter’s boyfriend, who works for Nat Geo, on the Captain Cook Cultural Cruise (highly recommended) to the Northern untouched islands of Fiji before she did! The only white boy living with the islanders for a project. A few years later, when I went to Port Douglas, Australia to visit her where she was working as a marine biologist on a charter boat, I took her for dinner with her boyfriend (who I hadn’t met yet) and there he was! We both had pictures on our phones of each other from the remote island of Kia in the Fijian islands.
PAX: What should travel agents be aware of right now in regard to Fiji Airways?
CP: Fiji Airways used to be called Air Pacific and we rebranded in 2014 back to our 1951 name of Fiji Airways. With the rebrand we got the delivery of five state-of-the art A330s. These are the preferred aircraft on the routes via LAX and SFO to Fiji. Starting in January of 2020, we will have service on our new A350-900 XWB which will be delivered in November 2019. They will feature 33 fully lie-flat Business Class beds, with each offering direct aisle access. While Economy Class will feature 301 Recaro seats, which are ranked among the most comfortable long-haul economy class seats on the market. These aircraft bring a 25 per cent advantage in fuel burn, operating costs and carbon dioxide emissions, meaning a significant reduction to the airline’s carbon footprint and fuel cost. We’re always striving to enhance the customer experience. Remember: when you travel with Fiji Airways beyond Fiji it is a free stopover in Fiji. So if you are going to Australia or New Zealand, why not stop in the beautiful islands of Fiji? It’s just four hours from Sydney and three hours from Auckland!
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