This year will mark 20 years since Erminia Nigro started her career at TravelBrands.
Years ago, Nigro was studying to become a teacher until she started looking onwards and upwards—quite literally!
"I could look up in the sky and know what airline to name, and I knew that I wanted to travel the world and the best way at that point was to apply for a flight attendant at SkyService," Nigro says.
But when her grandmother, who was terrified of flying, called her up and told her she couldn't bear to have her granddaughter on a plane, let alone be away from home for so long, Nigro took a job at Sunquest instead.
Fast-forward almost two decades: today, Nigro is the director of sales for Ontario at TravelBrands, and resides in Aurora, ON, where she handles province-wide accounts alongside an amazing team of BDMs.
Here, PAX checks in with Nigro to find out what kind of GIF always makes her day, why you should always hang out with her when you're hungry, and the expensive souvenir that was stolen from her on an Italian beach.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Erminia Nigro (EN): For anyone that knows me well, they will tell you that I have my phone attached to my hip. So, I have about a zillion charging cords with me when I travel and my family photo is a must in my luggage and in my ticket jacket.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
EN: I remember one year I was asked to attend either an Ireland FAM or cruise and was disappointed that I got the second pick and took the Ireland one. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love cruising, but visiting Ireland changed me completely. The scenery, the serenity, and the hilltops and greenery truly changed my way of thinking. I’m convinced the Irish Luck followed me back home as I built my career to such growth.
My job allows me to take my family with me on my business travels whenever possible. I was fortunate enough to attend a President's Club trip with clients onboard the luxurious SilverSea. Even though I had been to many of the Caribbean islands, I was in complete awe of the service, the food and the lap of luxury I experienced on this magnificent cruise. I also made amazing friends and cherished that trip forever.
[Another cruise] was Azamara with my daughter. The complete package experience, from the ship to the destinations to the time spent with my daughter, was priceless.
Italy has my heart. Any film ever created that is set in Italy I will watch. My favourite being Only You. I love the memories Italy has brought me as I studied there during my university years. I often take my family back home and we just rejuvenate our happiness and feelings all over again.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
EN: Believe it or not, Lamezia Terme International Airport in Italy. As soon as I land, I feel like everything that has become so important to us in our lives that are perfectly worth not having (phones, laptops, social media...etc) can be lived without, only to be used once in awhile. It's such a simple, plain airport. It doesn't offer much, but it’s the simplicity of it that truly makes my heart melt. Somehow, in the summer months, I am lucky enough to endure the heat with a smile as my luggage is always the very, very last one on the belt and it never bothers me.
PAX: What do you love about your job?
EN: I truly love my job. It’s the people, the vision of the company, and the fact that I am able to make decisions without being questioned because they trust that I have the best interest of the company at heart. When I look at my Facebook profile and all my friends, it's amazing that after all these years, a lot of industry people are my true friends. The relationships you build outside the office, on a conference, seminar at sea or a dinner date with your client is amazing, once you realize how many things you have in common outside of work. This industry is a lot of work, but we have some pretty amazing people around. It’s easy to call them friends.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
EN: Italy. My parents owned a home there and every summer, I would spend my entire school vacation at the beach house. I developed close friendships with people there that I would count down the days until I was able to see them. I would learn how to make homemade pasta with my grandmother. I learned how to knit and how to relax and enjoy the company around you at the dinner table into the late hours of the day. It was then that you'd realize that it was way past your bedtime. But as a kid, I could sit and listen and laugh to all the amazing stories that went around the table.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
EN: In Rome. My aunt bought me a pair of Gucci sunglasses. Back then, I didn’t even realize that they were such a name brand, but she told me to pick anything and I made the right decision. The wrong decision was leaving them out on the beach by my umbrella as I took a dip and one week later they were stolen!
PAX: What's the memorable food you've ever eaten while travelling?
EN: Burrata cheese in Calabria Italy region. I swear that nowhere in Canada have I ever had the pleasure of eating a cheese like that without gouging it with salt to have some flavour. It was certainly my breakfast every morning.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
EN: Complainers and airport staff that can’t crack a smile.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
EN: I can cook an eight-course meal in about 30 minutes. I don’t have a passion for cooking (I actually dread it sometimes), but when the going gets tough, I definitely make up for it by cooking up a storm.
PAX: Checked bag or carry-on?
EN: Business travel – definitely checked baggage; personal travel, checked, and will use my kids or husband's [luggage] to stash more in there.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
EN: I would have to change this one up and say any travel GIFs for me are hilarious. Anyone who knows me well knows that they can send me a GIF of any sort and I will certainly burst out in tears of laughter.
PAX: What are one or two things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to TravelBrands?
EN: We are going places. We have recently sold our company to H.I.S Co. Ltd and the vibe at our office is truly exciting. We know that this will take us to the next level when it comes to our technology, service levels and changes for the better overall. Know that 'we've got your back' more than ever!
There is no one in this industry that takes care of agents like we do at TravelBrands. We will work weekends and any other day to get things resolved or to get the sale. We are not afraid to ask for the sale and to work hard to maintain it. We truly have the best sales team in the industry as no one works the hours like our team does! We always deliver on anything we say we will do for our clients, so everyone needs to give us a try and we promise they will get addicted to us!
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