Time Flies – Even When the Plane is Grounded!

I cannot believe that I’m writing this, but on February 1st, Nexion Travel Group-Canada is marking our 10th anniversary!

I know it’s a sign of aging, but it truly seems like yesterday when Nexion Travel Group President Jackie Freedman and Kris Parkin, SVP of Human Resources at Internova Travel Group joined us here in London for the launch of Nexion Travel Group-Canada. I can still recall the setting, the food, the excitement in the air, the snow, and the feeling of that day being the start – not just of a new chapter – but of an entirely new “book” in the history of our company.

But I also had no idea what this book would be. As I reflect on the last 10 years, it feels like at least four chapters have passed.

The first chapter was marked by change, integration, and assimilation – learning new systems and programs and being welcomed by our teams in Irving, Texas, and Montevideo, Uruguay. We brought on almost all the employees and contractors from our former business, along with an outstanding leadership team, including Nancy and Esther. Judy Provenzano was also part of our leadership team, and I am so pleased that Judy remains part of our family, now as a successful IC consultant. I recall the incredible contributions of Heather Tarvit, whom I watched grow from a young lady to a young mom and to a new career outside of travel. Whenever I speak with him, I also recall the first coffees with the first person who joined us from outside our original team – Ian Parkin, whom I haven’t had a coffee with lately, but hope to soon. When I reflect on the early years, I am so proud that so many of the people who took that initial jump with us are still working with us today.

The second chapter to me is one of growth, and grow we did! While we always wanted our growth to be measured and at a pace that allowed us to serve our members – while learning ourselves – I must admit it was a whole new world for me to suddenly be serving hundreds of advisors across the country. As we were now more firmly ingrained into the larger company – and some of the most talented people in the industry – we were hitting our stride. Heather Kindred and her incredible team at Travel Leaders of Tomorrow (also started in 2013) were also delivering game-changing new programs, as were TL Network, and Internova Travel Group. Internova was the 9th largest travel agency organization on the planet in 2019 (and continues to grow at an impressive pace). Nexion Travel Group-Canada too was reaching our best numbers ever, exceeding targets and goals.

The third chapter could easily be viewed as the tragedy in our story, and at the time it certainly felt that way, not only for all of us but essentially everyone on the planet. Our beloved industry was one of the hardest hit. But with time and distance, my personal memories of that period have also evolved. The bad is obvious and far too much has been written and said already (like so many of you, we lost family and friends). But for me at least, as I now reflect on this period, I can now see some good too. I believe that we have improved our company. We are building a team for you that includes the most talented and caring people in this industry. We have just concluded what may well be one of our most successful years ever (by the measure of sales and members), and I believe that our best years are ahead of us. Yes, I also know that the road ahead is not without potholes and risks, but I also know that we learned lessons in that third chapter that will serve us well in chapter four and beyond.

As we get deeper into our fourth chapter, now only months old, I see so much promise for our company and all of you. Ten years on, I can tell you that the fundamentals of building a successful agency are the same. I’d say that is also true when I reflect 45 years back. The tools have changed, the companies have

changed, the industry itself has changed (I come from a time of handwriting tickets and using an OAG – if you’re under 50, you’ll have to Google it), yet the keys to your success didn’t really change: focus on a niche, learn it well, market how you can help your ideal prospect, sell well, repeat. Simple! Let’s make this chapter the best one yet. We have come through so much, and we deserve it!

I also want to take this opportunity to send my love and thanks to several people who have made this such an incredible – and interesting! – 10-year ride, so far.

I want to thank our suppliers. Like almost any family relationship, we may be at odds from time to time, but I have enjoyed great relationships and great success with so many companies and people. We truly cannot do what we do without them, and they have come to realize the same is true for them. It’s a symbiotic relationship that needs to be continuously nurtured.

I want to thank my colleagues, throughout Nexion and all the companies that are part of the Internova organization. It’s impossible to include everyone, so I won’t even attempt. Everyone from the entire Internova organization who has ever come into contact with our team here in Canada has made us feel welcome and part of the family. Thank you to all of you, for all you do to serve our team, and particularly, our clients.

I also have to send a huge thank you to all my colleagues here at Nexion Travel Group-Canada. I have worked with some of you for decades (I have said my age, but I’m smart enough to protect some details!), and in a couple of cases, we’ve yet to actually meet in person and shake hands. But I have always felt that we shared a singular goal, and that is to serve others. I cannot imagine being part of a better team. You are all stars in my eyes, and I thank you so much for all you do!

There are two people on my team that I do want to single out, however. Nancy and Esther have been part of my life for many years, and I humbly and gratefully say that I could not have been on this 10-year journey without you. You are the best of the best, and your caring attitude shows in all you do. I appreciate you more than I can say.

Finally, I want to thank you, our members. We love what we do, and you’re the reason we do it. Just as you get joy from serving your clients, we get so much joy and satisfaction from serving you. We get to watch and participate in your business journeys, and we see an exciting future stretching down the road ahead. On behalf of all my colleagues, thank you for choosing to be part of our family!

It’s been a long journey and I have enjoyed so much in my career, but I still see so much that we can do to build an even better company. I hope that you’ll join me as we begin writing the next chapter!

Mike F. President Nexion Travel Group-Canada