“The best part about working in the travel industry is no doubt the many opportunities that allow me to experience the incredible world we live in,” says Krista Cardona, an area sales manager at Air Canada Vacations (ACV).
Cardona has worked in travel for 16 years, starting her career at a travel agency and then later moving into the world of tour operators. Prior to travel she worked as a dental assistant and, at one point in her travel career, she worked as a part-time birth doula.
“Travel is my only addiction, so naturally this industry is the only fit,” says Cardona, who lives in rural Caledon, ON.
Building relationships with travel agents and agencies is an important part of Cardona’s day. Her daily duties may include anything from visiting agencies in her territory of Toronto North and Northern Ontario to providing in-house product training and guidance on problem solving to updating travel agents on ACV’s latest promotions.
“Helping agents grow their business with us” comes first and foremost, she says.
“I want to make sure I'm always supporting my agencies, equipping them with new tools and knowledge as best I can,” Cardona tells PAX.
What does she love the most about her job?
“The travel agents, my colleagues at Air Canada Vacations, and the trade partners from around the industry,” says Cardona. “I work with an amazing team at ACV, we are all so supportive of one another and are truly great friends in addition to being co-workers.”
Here, PAX checks in with Cardona to chat about the joys of Disney, her secret origami skills, and a recent wardrobe mishap involving a trip to Las Vegas and a pair of shoes.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Krista Cardona (KC): Aside from the obvious (passport, phone and money!), the things I never leave home without are my portable phone charger, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and my favourite Air Canada-branded luggage tag!
PAX: What are your favourite vacation spots?
KC: The islands off Phuket in the Andaman Sea in Thailand – it’s the only place on earth I quite literally went speechless when I first experienced the view. Secondly, Disney! My daughter and I take a yearly mummy-daughter vacation to Disney World in Orlando. I've also been fortunate enough to visit Disneyland California, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney. And I have Hong Kong Disneyland scheduled for the fall. Finally, Tokyo for the food! The kindness of the people, their customs, the temples, the lights, the diversity, the shopping. Did I mention the food? Udon, gyōza and sake, please!
PAX: What’s your favourite airport?
KC: Hong Kong. It's practically its own city!
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
KC: My first vacation was on my first birthday. My parents took me to Europe, through Germany and England. Although I don't remember it, there are some great photos of my parents taking turns carrying me around in a backpack at all the big tourist sites, some of which I’ve had the opportunity to visit again as an adult. I blame my parents for starting my love of travel early in life!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
KC: I'm a pretty thrifty traveller for the most part and I normally travel with a budget. That being said, I can't ever say no to sweets! My first time in Belgium (Bruges) I came out of a specialty confectionary shop with 80 Euros (that's $120 Canadian!) worth of chocolate.
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten while travelling?
KC: In Tokyo last year my friend and I wanted to experience a real, traditional sit-on-the-floor style izakaya restaurant. We stumbled across a tiny place in Shinjuku where the staff didn't speak any English and we didn't know any Japanese, so the customs of dining there and foods on the menu were kindly described to us using hand gestures. To this day, I'm not certain, and will never know what we ate for dinner that evening. But it was absolutely delicious!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
KC: It would definitely have to be when the person behind me on a plane can't keep their arms and legs to themselves. Seat kickers are the worst!
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
KC: I can make origami-style birds out of cloth table napkins. I can't tell you how many times that's come in handy when dining with impatient little ones. I'm happy to offer up a demo to anyone that finds themselves on an ACV FAM with me in the future!
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
KC: Up! If I'm fortunate enough to have a window seat, I tend to look out the window or read more often than I watch the in-flight entertainment.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
KC: Not long ago, I was headed to Vegas with some girlfriends. The flight was early and I was sleepily getting dressed in the dark so as not to wake anyone. When I arrived at the airport, it became apparent that I'd put on two different shoes. I keep all my similar flats/loafers on the same shoe rack and I'd accidentally put on two identically-coloured, similar looking (yet completely different) shoes.
PAX: What should travel agents know right now about ACV?
KC: This month is the best time to book your winter vacation! Our Winter Early Bird sale is on now until the end of June, offering savings of $150 per adult, $100 per child, free Carefree and Careflex, and only $50 deposit per person to secure the space! Also don’t forget we have so many other diverse products to offer, from sun packages, to the USA, to our own beautiful country of Canada, to cruising the world, to Europe, to Asia. We want to help you make your clients travel dreams a reality!
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