After working with Sandals and Beaches Resorts for 15 years, Winston Chang has a lot to celebrate.
Last August, the North Vancouver BC-based BDM won two awards at the Sandals Global Sales Conference: Regional BDM of the Year for Canada and National BDM of the Year for North America.
Chang’s official title – Business Development Manager, BC & The Yukon for Unique Vacations (Canada) Inc., an affiliate of Unique Travel Corp, worldwide representatives of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts – keeps him busy as he works with travel agents in British Columbia and the Yukon to help grow their Sandals and Beaches business, in addition to speaking with consumers “so that everyone is aware of the Sandals difference,” Chang tells PAX.
Here, PAX checks in with the award-winning travel pro to chat about dragon boating, Trinidadian bake and shark and that time when “Jesus” stole his theatre tickets in Germany.
PAX: How did you get into the travel business?
Winston Chang (WC): I began by escorting groups to the Caribbean for my Mother in 1983, then I got a part-time agency desk job on Thursday and Friday nights in 1985 when malls in BC were opening, which then turned into a full-time job in 1986. I haven’t looked back since!
PAX: Have you always worked in travel?
WC: I’ve always been in the travel industry but I’ve had odd jobs, such as staking claims and soil sampling for a geologist in the Caribou, Kootenays and Queen Charlotte Islands in BC. I’ve also worked in a department store and a gas station.
PAX: What is your hidden talent?
WC: I can play most sports both right handed and left handed. I’m also a Dragon Boater but that’s not really a secret! My friends and I started our team “The TCC Dragoneers” in 1995. We’re a recreational team practising once a week in the spring and summer only. We compete at festivals around British Columbia and the USA. In 2016, my team and I travelled to Trinidad to race in their annual Dragon Boat festival celebrating the Chinese arrival to Trinidad and Tobago!
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
WC: Headphones, sunglasses and hat.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
WC: The Caribbean and Asia.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport?
WC: Vancouver International Airport
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
WC: Touring Europe by car for six weeks after driving across Canada with my cousins. It was interesting seeing all the historical sites and surviving the language barrier in the smaller towns and villages. I only speak English and not that well according to some!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
WC: A Leather jacket in London.
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten on a trip?
WC: Bake and shark in Trinidad.
What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
WC: Airplane seat pitch, or lack thereof...
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
WC: I was escorting a group to the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany in 1990 and the actor playing Jesus stole the tickets to resell them, so we could not receive our pre-paid tickets for the group until the day of the play. We went to Europe with 50 people not knowing if we would get to see the play, but it worked out!
PAX: What is one thing you’d like travel agents to be aware of right now when it comes to Sandals?
WC: My colleagues on-island work really hard to ensure that their clients, our guests, have the best, most authentic Caribbean vacation possible. As our resorts are not cookie-cutter, there is a Sandals resort for everyone. However, not every Sandals resort is for everyone! So agents must know and understand what their clients are looking for and then offer accordingly. The inside sales team in Toronto and their local BDM are here to help them close that sale.