Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Marco Lot was destined to work in the travel industry.
He flew right into air travel the moment he finished university in 2016, starting out as an airport customer service agent and then becoming an operations lead.
He then moved into the inflight world, where he was a flight attendant for just over four years.
Now, he supports travel advisors in Southwestern Ontario as one of Air Canada Vacations’ newest area sales managers.
Joining the team in January, Lot works to ensure travel pros in his territory are well-versed in ACV's products. He also provides trainings and assistance with consumer nights and marketing guidance.
“I love that I get to send people on their dream vacation or to their bucket list destination,” says Lot, who is originally from Windsor, ON, but now lives in Toronto. “I love creating great lasting relationships with agents and my coworkers. And my favourite thing about the travel industry is obviously the endless choices of where to travel to next.”
Here, PAX Checks In with Lot to talk about the time he built a school in Guatemala, airport dads, and the importance of booking travel in advance.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Marco Lot (ML): A photocopy of my passport (if I lose my physical passport, it’s way easier once you get to the embassy); an emergency medication kit (full of Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl, etc. You never know what you’ll need – especially in another country); and a reusable water bottle. I hate being charged $6 a bottle at airports.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
ML: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW). It’s just so clean, modern, and filled with windows to watch planes take off and land! Or Los Angeles International (LAX), where you can sit in the In-N-Out Burger parking lot and watch planes from all over the world land.
PAX: What was the first trip you ever took?
ML: I did a lot of travelling with my family when I was young but I feel like most of them were just “trips.” I never really travelled until I went to Guatemala on an outreach trip in university where we built a school for a community. I was there for 18 days and lived and worked in a small village. We stayed in a local’s house on the floor on a sleeping mat. We learned to cook what they cooked and did the daily chores that they did. At the end of our time in the village, we got to explore different areas of Guatemala. It has a special place in my heart and I am itching to go back soon!
PAX: What is your favourite travel memory?
ML: When I was living in Australia, it had always been my dream to be at the Sydney Harbour Bridge for New Year’s Eve. Every year I would wake up on New Year’s Eve day and watch the bridge light up with fireworks. So, I made it my mission to do that. I spent a majority of the afternoon and all throughout the evening holding down my spot, right underneath the bridge, to see the fantastic fireworks show. It was truly one of the most surreal moments in my life!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
ML: Skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand! 150 per cent worth every penny!
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten while travelling?
ML: When I was in Zurich, we ate at a traditional Swiss fondue restaurant called Restaurant Swiss Chuchi. It was the best cheese fondue I’ve ever had, so delicious and so many different things to choose from to dip in the fondue. And you have to get the pan fried rosti potatoes too!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
ML: Gate lice [passengers who position themselves to be first in line at the gate] and airport dads. Gate lice – just sit down until your zone is called. We are all going to the same place and we don’t need you congesting the boarding area when I am zone 3 and you are zone 14. And airport dads just stress everyone else out even more. So just take some deep breaths and don’t check your boarding pass for the 140th time.
PAX: Would you travel for a month in luxury or for a year on a budget?
ML: I would travel for a year on a budget, but use my credit cards so I could gain points to then use them for a month of luxury travel in the future! The year of budget travel would be amazing because I could see so many places and spend a good amount of time in each country to really experience the culture and learn how they live and see it.
PAX: What do you consider your greatest achievement in recent years?
ML: Taking a leave from work and travelling/living by myself in Australia for six months in 2018. It taught me so much about myself and challenged me in ways I never would’ve thought. The places I saw and the people I met were truly amazing!
PAX: What is your motto?
ML: Everything happens for a reason.
PAX: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
ML: Sitting on a beach, or on top of a mountain, or at a lake, watching the sunset (with a dog would sweeten the deal).
PAX: What is your biggest fear?
ML: Drowning in the open ocean.
PAX: Who is your favourite singer or band?
ML: More so a DJ – I love Kygo! It’s the perfect playlist to listen to while flying.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
ML: I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I am a pretty good chef.
PAX: How has the pandemic changed your outlook on life?
ML: You need to be adaptable. Don’t worry if processes change. It is usually because something isn’t working or it is to make your life a bit easier, so just go with the flow.
PAX: What is the biggest challenge facing the travel industry right now?
ML: The price of travel! Revenge travel is in full force and gone are the days of last-minute vacation deals. You need to book early in order to get a decent price.
PAX: What do you think this year’s top travel trend is?
ML: Instagram moments in Greece or on the Amalfi Coast!
PAX: What should travel advisors know right now about Air Canada Vacations?
ML: We are in the midst of a hiring boom for contact centre agents and it takes time to get them trained properly and to the caliber of becoming subject matter experts. So please be patient with them. They are human too, please treat them with respect.
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