Joining the travel industry as a call centre agent in 1996, Air Canada Vacations’ Marigold Frontuna started her career with an interesting coincidence.
“I received a call for a job interview as a call centre agent at Fiesta West,” she recalled. “When I went into the boardroom there were two individuals interviewing and it turns out one of the supervisors was my babysitter from when I was around seven years old – I hadn’t seen her in over 10 years! It was quite a catch up and I ended up getting the job.”
A life-long member of this industry (save for 10 months she spent as a claims agent for PricewaterhouseCoopers following the closure of Canada 3000 in 2001), Vancouver-based Frontuna now works as ACV’s Western Canada sales GM, a role she’s held since November 2010.
“As a GM,” she explained, “my main responsibility is to develop and execute revenue driving strategies for the west, manage budgets and collaborate with various internal departments on market opportunities and business development.
“I also manage the area sales managers for Western Canada, so my key priority is to try and remove any obstacle that prevents them from doing their job and create efficiencies, to ensure company objectives and regional targets are met while establishing customer loyalty.”
This week, PAX checks in with Frontuna on the hidden gems of Panama City, Vegas girls’ getaways and what not to buy while shopping in Palm Springs.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Marigold Frontuna (MF): My phone, Peppermint Halo headache remedy and hand cream.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
MF: There’s so many to choose from, but I would say my top three are: Italy: I’ve been there four times and there’s always something new to see. I love everything from the culture, food and wine, scenery and shopping; The Caribbean: I love a great beach and there are so many beautiful islands in the Caribbean it’s hard to choose just one: Turks & Caicos, Antigua, the Bahamas, Curacao and many more. They’re all unique in their own way; Panama: I’ve been there a few times and while most people who have never been just associate it with the canal, Panama has so much more to offer. It has a great mix of old and new architecture, Panama City is very cosmopolitan and they have a great skyline that most first time visitors would be surprised to see. There’s also beautiful beaches for those looking for R&R or rainforests for adventure enthusiasts.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
MF: Not that I’m biased, but I have to say YVR; I consider it one of the most beautiful airports in the world. Every time I arrive, I feel like I’m walking through a mini museum; there’s so many sculpture collections and aquarium exhibits that make it visually appealing.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
MF: I love the fast pace and the unpredictable element that we sometimes become immune to in this industry. Every day is different – it’s a constant balance of being proactive and reactive to what’s next.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
MF: It was a girls’ getaway to Las Vegas. I worked for Fiesta West at the time and we could go standby on Canada 3000 for $27 return. We did a 48-hour whirlwind tour of the Strip, which was both exhilarating and exhausting. I was much younger then, so sleep deprivation didn’t seem so bad. Now, it would be a completely different story - I’m in bed by 10 p.m.!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
MF: Passengers who have no concept of personal space and feet resting on the armrest.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
MF: Down when flying and up when we’re descending
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
I was at a conference in Palm Springs and had some free time before dinner, so Tracey Poole (retired TravelBrands BDM) and I took a trip to the mall for a couple of hours. We somehow lost each other and as I was walking around trying to find her, I saw someone through a glass window getting a makeover, who had a strong resemblance to Tracey. It turns out it was one of those high-end skin cream stores trying to sell her a $120 eye cream, promising to take years off of her face. Needless to say, we were bamboozled and we ended up each buying one. In case you’re wondering – no, it doesn’t work.
PAX: What should travel agents be aware of right now in regards to Air Canada Vacations?
MF: Our new Winter 19-20 Sun collection has just launched and we have more than 750 resorts to choose from, with an aggressive early booking bonus for families and couples who plan in advance; they also qualify for a reduced deposit of $50 per person.
ACV has also done a tremendous job diversifying our product offerings over the last few years. Being part of a global carrier allows us to not only sell packages down south but to many destinations that Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge fly to. Clients looking for Europe, Cruise, Canada, U.S., South America and Asia packages should include ACV in their shopping process. We dare you to compare our prices – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
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