Monique Lalonde joined Transat Distribution Canada in April 2019 and currently represents the growing IC sector in the industry as director, agent@home.
"It’s been an interesting transition from my previous roles, as I spent most of my career on the tour operator side," Lalonde said.
It was Lalonde's father who first suggested she get involved in the travel industry, after suggesting she become a flight attendant.
But that was a short-lived career.
"After two broken ankles in 1988, a flight attendant was not the travel path I took," Lalonde recalled. "My goal was to work at Sunquest Vacations which I eventually did, and spent almost 12 amazing years there."
Lalonde, who currently lives in Innisfil, ON, spends the majority of her days planning retention and acquisition strategies for Transat Travel agent@home, however, she notes that she's also a key pillar of support for her team and the internal departments, and works closely with preferred partners to establish and manage budget projections, ensure a stronger position in the market place and focus on areas to improve revenues.
"My career in the travel industry started in 1989 and I never turned back," Lalonde continued. "I have been fortunate to work with many great people and held various positions with amazing organizations. The expression that travel gets under your skin and in your blood certainly rings true with me. It is my passion, is very inspiring and I love experiencing new destinations and cultures."
Here, PAX Checks In with Monique to learn more about taking a chance on the lucky number 13, a memorable trip to Florida that sent her back in a wheelchair, and the sport she's got a killer defence in.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Monique Lalonde (ML): Cell phone, money/credit cards and hand sanitizer.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
ML: I have a great appreciation of all destinations visited. Some of my favorite spots are Arizona, Aruba, Los Cabos, Jamaica, Costa Rica for its natural beauty and adventures, Punta Cana for it’s beautiful beaches and Latin vibe, Italy for it’s incredible food and attractions and Thailand was a very exotic and impressionable experience at the age of 19. I also love going up to my cottage in Northern Ontario.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
ML: I don’t have a favorite airport, however, I enjoy flying in to Vancouver for it’s breathtaking landscape. Every time I fly in to Vancouver I am glued to my window and love taking in the mountains, ocean, greenery, its just beautiful.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
ML: I love working towards making a difference in my day to day role, be it with our agent@home program, agent network or my colleagues. I really enjoy the forever changing travel environment we work in, because you need to quickly adapt so there is never a dull moment in our world which keeps things exciting.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
ML: After graduating from high school, I went to visit friends who moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. That was my first vacation on a plane and it was very memorable as my friend driving was cut off the highway and I came home in a wheelchair with two broken ankles. Not the vacation I was planning!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
ML: For years I’ve had an obsession with watches and have quite the collection with many of them purchased while on vacation. When I returned from a trip to Aruba my Mom asked what I bought and my reply was "You don’t want to know!" and of course, it was another watch and this time a TAG Heuer.
PAX: What was the most memorable meal you ever ate and where did you eat it?
ML: There have been many memorable meals but one I loved and will never forget was in Singapore at the market where we had some chili crab. My mouth waters thinking about it.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
ML: This will sound terrible knowing the business, however, when the person in front of me fully reclines their seat and I’m left with very little personal space and when someone behind me is constantly kicking my seat.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
ML: I love basketball and played on a women’s all star team despite not being so tall. I was known for my killer shot and strong defense and when we won our city finals, the coach from the men’s team playing after us asked if I would come shoot for his team!
PAX: When flying: window shade up or down?
ML: This depends on the time of day, if it's an evening flight I’ll catch a movie and have the window shade down. If there's daylight and especially for landing the window shade is always up.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
ML: Not everyone will find this funny, however, we got the last laugh.
Travelling on our honeymoon our flight was delayed and we had to overnight in Atlanta. We were accommodated in the “unlucky” room number 13. The following morning we made our way to the airport had breakfast which was a total of $13.13. Then we ended up at Gate 13 and seated in row 13.
Therefore, when we arrived at our destination hotel and casino in Aruba we checked in and while making our way to our room with suitcases in hand we looked at each other, smiled and decided to quickly place a $100 bet on 13 on the roulette wheel. Believe it or not, it came in with odds of 35 to 1 and we collected $3500.00 USD! We pushed our luck, and placed $50 on 26 which came in and we won another $1750.00. Needless to say we walked away and it paid for our honeymoon!
PAX: What are several things travel agents should know about TDC right now?
ML: There are more than 400 locations, comprising of brick-and-mortar travel agencies, websites, a call centre, and home-based professional travel agents which is a rapidly growing division of TDC.
The Transat brand is well-respected and trusted by travellers and provides our network of agents with incredible marketing value, training opportunities, an abundance of preferred partners and so much more. Our Transat Travel gift cards are best in market as they can be applied towards anything you purchase through a TDC agent and they never expire!
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