While he’s a familiar face in the travel industry, Sunwing’s Dave Wright once had a very different career path.
“I actually got into banking right out of school and ended up working for one of the 'Big 5' banks for 18 years,” Wright recalled. “I was a loan/mortgage lending officer as well as a branch manager for a number of branches in the Hamilton area during my time with the bank. After a while, banking got a little boring and I started to look at different options.”
In 2008, Wright’s search lead him to the world of travel and Signature Vacations – which would later become a part of Sunwing, where’s he’s been ever since and currently serves as director of sales for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
A long-time resident of Hamilton, Ontario, Wright works with Sunwing’s team of business development managers and inside sales department to grow the company’s overall sales, leveraging the “many great relationships” with travel agents and agencies to achieve that goal.
“We build on those relationships to ensure agent satisfaction levels remain high by providing education to them in the form of webinars, in-office training and our annual agent presentations which take place all across the country.”
This week, PAX Checks In with Wright to learn about watch-shopping in Santorini, a memorable meal in Thailand and facing one of his biggest fears head-on in Panama.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
DW: A great (fast) phone charger that gets me to 100 per cent in about 30 minutes; my wireless mouse for my laptop (I can’t stand using a laptop’s touchpad); and my Nexus card.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots (and explain why you like them)?
DW: Workwise, I love Cuba. It’s a short flight from Toronto, and I love the people. Plus, Cuba has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean!
On a personal note, my dad lives in South Africa and I have been fortunate to visit him three times. It’s a great country that I hope everyone gets to experience one day. Europe has always been a favourite place of mine; in particular, Prague, Budapest and all of Greece. One day, when I win the lottery, you’ll find me in a villa on Mykonos. Last but not least, a couple of years ago, for my 50th birthday, I planned a great trip to Thailand – which ended up being amazing.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
DW: Without a doubt, my favourite airport is Toronto Pearson. There’s great retail options, restaurants and it’s very easy to get around once you get to know it. Plus, you can go anywhere in the world from Pearson – how great is that?
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
DW: I love to travel. Our world has an endless amount of travel possibilities and places to visit. I try to visit at least one or two new countries every year. Sunwing is a great company to work for and I love my role. I am very lucky to work directly with a great sales team and I have the best boss in the world.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took (and why was it memorable)?
DW: Until I was 10 years old I lived in England and the first trip I remember was a family trip down to the Isle of Wight, off the coast of southern England. I must have been about six or seven years old and I remember having so much fun with my mom, dad and twin sisters. It was just a good old-fashioned vacation, spent playing in the sand. It’s a beach holiday that I still remember to this day.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip? (Name a specific item you purchased)
DW: I have a huge watch collection. One trip, while vacationing in Greece, I went into a boutique on the island of Santorini and an hour later came out with a fantastic Hugo Boss watch. It is, by far, the most expensive watch I own and was way over my budget for watch purchases that day. After purchasing it, I had about five minutes of buyer’s remorse but quickly convinced myself that it was the greatest purchase ever.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
DW: While in Thailand, on the island of Koh Samui, my partner and I had dinner at a restaurant called 'Dining on the Rocks.' We walked down 50 wooden steps on the side of a cliff, before reaching a wooden deck about 40 feet above the water below. There was no electricity on the deck; only torch lanterns and a table for two. We had an amazing private meal and a “couple” of bottles of wine; it was just the two of us enjoying the ambiance of the moonlight and the sound of the waves crashing below us. I’ll never forget it.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
DW: My biggest pet peeve is when passengers line up at the gate for a flight before their row/zone is called. It irritates me every time.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
DW: I can fold a napkin into a chef’s hat. That’s all I’ve got!
PAX: Checked bag or carry-on?
DW: Anything longer than a one-night trip, I always check a bag.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
DW: My preference is always a window seat and I always have the window shade up. There’s so much to see in the world.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
DW: There are only two things I fear in life: glass floors and snakes. When it comes to snakes, it doesn’t matter if they are two feet long or 20 feet long, I want nothing to do with them. Recently, on a trip to Panama, our group came across the opportunity for someone to volunteer to have a big python on their shoulders. I don’t know what came over me, but for some reason, I heard myself volunteering. I had someone take my picture so I would remember the moment. In the picture, I’m basically saying, “Take the picture fast and get this off of me!”
PAX: What are 1-2 things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to Sunwing?
DW: Our products and flights are being loaded into the system now for next year and we have a great year ahead of us planned, with some great new destinations in our lineup including Tobago, Grenada and Antigua. We are the number one vacation provider worldwide sending passengers to Cuba annually.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!