Contiki’s Joel Danyluk was first introduced to the company while playing with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League when he was named Community Player of the Year, an award which also included a 19-day Europe trip hosted by the tour operator.
While he would continue to play hockey after university, Danyluk had caught the travel bug and would set his sights on a career in the industry.
“From about 12 years old,” Danyluk told PAX, “I grew up in the summers working various jobs at my parent's Home Hardware store in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. During university, I was fortunate to gain an internship with our local credit union. I dabbled in a bit of professional hockey in the USA right after university and then I moved to Calgary on a whim and joined Scotiabank briefly before grabbing my dream job with Contiki.”
Based in Calgary, Danyluk currently works as a Contiki BDM for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, a role he has held since 2016.
“Having geographically one of the largest territories in Canada, a lot of my time is spent away from home working with agencies across the prairies,” he said. “The 18 to 35-year-old market is tricky to navigate, so a lot of time is spent thinking of creative ways to grow businesses.”
This week, PAX checks in with Danyluk on dining with locals in Seville, an unforgettable kayaking excursion in Laos and which home-baked treat he occasionally surprises travel agents with…
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
JD: I am a creature of comfort, so I always have packed for work or personal travel a nice hand lotion, essential oils, and a travel pillow.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
JD: Singapore is my favorite city I have been because of the food culture as well as seeing all of the supertrees light up at night. I also loved Copenhagen and wandering down the Nyhaven district in the morning and an adventure-filled evening at Tivoli Gardens.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
JD: I love Edmonton International Airport because it feels like every time I go there is live music playing.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
JD: I love meeting like-minded people from all around the world. I am also particularly fond of spending time in rural agencies because of my roots.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
JD: My parents and I always went camping growing up to a different location but the first vacation I remember was when I was three years old and we went to Kansas with my grandparents. I was very young, but I remember fishing down by the river and visiting the yellow brick road while literally almost getting caught in a tornado.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
JD: I bought a Tissot watch in Switzerland and I still wear it to this day for special occasions.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while traveling and where you ate?
JD: My favorite meal was in Seville, on a Contiki trip, where we were able to have dinner with a local in their home. I went to a former professional chef turned artist and inventors house. He had his artwork all around his studio apartment and a fun flamenco machine to play. He invited some of his friends from the community over and we just chatted and had an amazing meal.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
JD: When people get in my personal bubble and are far too close.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
JD: I always treat agencies at random points in time with some home-cooked cinnamon buns or just random baking learned from my grandma’s recipes. I also have found it important to preserve family recipes and traditions.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
JD: I always choose the aisle seat!
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
JD: I am not the biggest fan of water and I was paired up doing a leisurely kayak down the river in Laos. About halfway through the excursion, a gigantic water spider jumped into the kayak and I was so scared that I tipped us both out of the kayak and into the water down the river. The others on the trip – as well as our local guide – found it hilarious but for me it was terrifying!
PAX: What should travel agents be aware of right now in regards to Contiki?
JD: To not be scared to reach out to your local Contiki business development managers – who are experts in the Generation Z and Millennial purchasing trends – to develop a customized strategy. The 18 to 35-year-old travelers are so important to future business, because this age demographic travels the most, has the most disposable income, and is the largest generational cohort in Canada.
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