“I grew up in the business,” recalls Dean Neville, Transat’s Western Canada sales manager, when discussing his travel industry beginnings. “My parents owned travel agencies in Edmonton. Before BSP (billing and settlement plan), I recall every week we would put airline ticket stock coupons in order. For that, I would earn $1 – and red ink all over my hands!”
Save for brief stints in university working in water and sewer construction, Neville has been a life-long member of the travel industry. In his current role since 2014, Edmonton-based Neville has come a long way since those ink-stained days helping out at the family travel agency, currently responsible for overseeing Transat’s commercial activities in the west.
This week, PAX checks in with Neville on Hawaii trips by way of Montana, the legendary performer he decided to watch in Las Vegas on a whim and why you should always bring proper documentation when travelling with your kids.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Dean Neville (DN): I often bring a Golf Digest; a current Transat brochure that I generally leave in the seat pocket of whatever airline I am flying; and, if I can make it work, I will bring my golf clubs.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
DN: my favorite destination is Scotland. I really enjoy the history and the people. As a family, we enjoy the Mayan Riviera – there is always something for a family to do! Hawaii is always up there on the list, more often these days to visit friends.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
DN: Victoria, BC (YYJ). I lived in Victoria for four years and flew in and out of there a lot. There are some stunning views when taking off and landing. Everything there is quick and efficient - including the Tim Hortons!
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
DN: I enjoy teaching and coaching my team. I am very fortunate in that I have a great bunch to work with. The travel industry is such a close community – I have been able to foster many great relationships across Canada.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
DN: As a kid, we were fortunate as we went to Hawaii a lot. My first memory was a trip to Hawaii that we took on Wardair – however, we had to bus eight hours to Great Falls, Montana from Edmonton, as the air traffic controllers in Canada were on strike at the time.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
DN: Those who know me well realize I am very thrifty! I asked a former co-worker and he said I once took a taxi instead of a shuttle bus. However, one time when my wife and I were in Las Vegas and had no evening plans, we saw Elton John was playing at his residency at Caesars. Just on the spot we decided to go - it was an amazing show!
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
DN: Nothing really stands out. If there are chicken fingers and fries, I am happy. Just don’t be offended if I don’t share!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
DN: People that are late – even outside of travel. My friends and colleagues all know this about me and occasionally have good fun at my expense.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
DN: I have been known to do political figure impersonations that we have used at some recent events.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
DN: Shade up.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
DN: My wife and I were taking our daughter, who was three years old at the time, to Disneyland. When we arrived at U.S. customs, we realized that we had forgotten her birth certificate (pre-passport being required). All we had was her health card. The Customs officer doing her due diligence asked us a few questions to ensure that my daughter was in fact ours. She asked me her date of birth and of course I got it wrong! The officer was very sympathetic and allowed us to carry on.
PAX: What are should travel agents be aware of right now in regard to Transat?
DN: We are very excited this year to be launching our new flights from Vancouver to Punta Cana, Fort Lauderdale and Costa Rica. These flights will be on our brand-new Airbus A321 Neo LR. Flights will run from December until April.
Europe is already on the horizon with the new brochure coming out soon; we’re excited to be bringing on Copenhagen as a new destination. Our connector program from the west has been very successful and we look forward to offering more than 25 destinations in Europe from Western Canada.
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