Nick Roberti has worked in the travel industry for four years, working for various tour operators.
But, his career path didn't start out with travel in mind.
"My university education is actually in Health Science, and I was working as a researcher with the Infection Control department at a hospital in Toronto," Roberti tells PAX. "But, sitting in the basement of a hospital all day was not for me; I really wanted to follow my passion of travel in a role that would have me interacting with like-minded people all day."
Now, Roberti, who lives in downtown Toronto and works as the national sales manager for Just You, says everyday is different, which is what he loves most about his job.
Just You has been creating solo journeys for more than 10 years around the globe. Overseas transfers, accommodation in a room of your own, breakfast on all tours and excursions are always included.
Above all, pricing is completely transparent so solo travellers never have to deal with paying for a single supplement.
G Adventures acquired Just You back in 2017, meaning Just You is part of the G Adventures family.
"I was the first employee for Just You in Canada responsible for leading the business here, so I have worn many hats," Roberti says. "I mostly work with our national partners on various marketing campaigns and sales tactics to achieve high-level goals. I also work closely with our inside and outside sales teams, providing the resources that agents need to increase their solo travel business, and ensuring a smooth customer booking experience. Some days you’ll find me hosting a consumer night with an agent partner, representing Just You at a conference/trade show, hosting a FAM trip for agents, growing distribution channels, or working with the travel media like PAX News!"
Here, PAX checks in with Nick to learn more about the local (furry) delicacy he totally regrets eating, a close call in the middle of the Colombian jungle, and the song he's most likely to belt out when it's time for karaoke.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Nick Roberti (NR): Firstly, I always make sure to have a small Canadian flag on my backpack/luggage. I am a proud Canadian when I am traveling to foreign destinations, and I want to shout it from the rooftops! Secondly, I always need to have a soccer jersey with me. I find soccer (or football) is a common interest in many countries and an easy way to spark a conversation with a local or a travelling stranger. Third would have to be my phone. I know it sounds cliché - but I always need my phone to take photos, write notes about my experiences, answer emails, listen to Drake, post on social media, and stay in contact with friends and family.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
NR: My favorite country which I have visited is Colombia. This trip was my first true “backpacking” experience, and I will never forget how friendly the locals are, how good the food is, how amazing the scenery is, and the opportunity for adventure is everywhere! I also love travelling to the U.K. I tend to be there quite often at our head office, and I love navigating the tube, attending football matches, and seeing all of my friends at work. It’s also very easy to get around because they speak the same language.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
NR: My favorite airport is YOW in Ottawa. I lived there for a couple of years, and the service at YOW was always impeccable. I’ve never missed a flight or had a delay at YOW – maybe that’s just my luck – but I’ll never forget showing up to the airport 30 minutes before a flight to Chile, and making it on the plane with time to spare.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
NR: My favorite thing about my job is the product that I represent. Canada has long needed an operator exclusively dedicated to solo travel, so being a top pick for solo travellers feels amazing. Seeing the smiles of agents or consumers after a presentation always brightens my day - I’ve even had crowds cheer after saying “no single supplements”! We are changing people's lives through travel, and hearing the experiences and seeing photos of our travellers is quite fulfilling. As for the travel industry, what can I say? We all know it’s the most fun and the friendliest industry!
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
NR: The first vacation I ever took was a family trip to Jamaica. Although I was very young, I remember having so much fun with my brother and my parents. I can still remember a man named Ruban who sold us a coconut on the beach and I can still picture going down this amazing waterslide that went through a rock…. I even came back with braids in my hair!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
NR: I’m not a big spender while travelling, but I’d say the biggest splurge was when I bought a beautiful pair of Italian dress shoes…. in France.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
NR: The most memorable food I’ve ever eaten is definitely the guinea pig in Peru. It was absolutely disgusting and you couldn’t pay me to eat it again, but now I can say I’ve tried the local delicacy! I have to say my favourite restaurant is this Nepalese/Indian joint called Avatar in Market Harborough, England. I’ve never had a bad dish there, and the service is always on point!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
NR: When people take their shoes off on a flight. We don’t need to see/smell your feet, and who knows what’s on the floor of an aircraft!?
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
NR: I can sing a Shaggy song pretty well at karaoke night.
PAX: When flying: window shade up or down?
NR: Shade up on take-off so I can get my classic CN Tower picture in, shade down while up in the air.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
NR: I have a few of these, as I’m sure we all do in this industry. When I was in Colombia, we heard about this amazing hostel in the jungle, overlooking the Andes, far from civilization – and we wanted to go!
Our instructions were to go to a town called Santa Marta, find anyone with a Jeep and offer them some money to take us to a town called Minca. From Minca, we would have to find someone with a dirtbike/mototaxi to take us up the mountain through the jungle, roughly an hour's drive, to the hostel called “Casa Elemento”.
After a bumpy Jeep trunk ride, we found the mototaxi. My friend went up first, and I grabbed the next one. I was terrified because the mountain was so steep, it felt like a 90-degree angle. Then all of a sudden, the bike starts moving backwards down the mountain!
We obviously fell off, and I had a few scrapes on me but nothing serious. I then realized I was in the middle of a Colombian jungle with a man whom I can’t communicate with, and we have to carry a dirtbike up half the mountain. After some tough communication and a long hike pushing a dirtbike, we actually bonded quite well. We made it to Casa Elemento right in time for dinner – although my friend was worried that I’d never show up.
The driver stayed, had a few beers with us, fixed his bike, and watched the sunset over the mountains. Then we made plans for him to bring me back down to Minca in a few days. No accidents this time!
PAX: What are 1-2 things travel agents should know right now about Just You?
NR: Solo travel is the fastest growing trend in the industry, and we are the leaders in this space. Solo travel does not mean “single” travel, nor does it mean you are alone. Everybody on our tour is a solo traveller, so we create the perfect itineraries geared towards solo travellers.
Being in an inclusive, social atmosphere with like-minded individuals is the start to creating memories. Everybody gets their own room at the end of the night; we don’t match people up. Lastly, we don’t believe people should pay more to travel solo, so we never charge single supplements!
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