Growing up, I watched a lot of Mary Tyler Moore. I longed to be an independent career woman, live in a groovy apartment, and turn the world on with my smile. I was a girl on a mission and sent out résumé after résumé in the hopes that one would open the door to a world of excitement and independence. When I finally received a job offer in Toronto, I bid adieu to my small-town life and jumped on it. It was a good job, a government job – decent salary, superior benefits and a flexible schedule. The stuff dreams are made of. I was going to make it after all.
But alas, fantasy and reality are oft miles apart and my big city job was kind of a drag. No Murray to banter with, no Ted to poke fun at, and worst of all, no Mr. Grant to guide me. In fact, the only thing in common with Mary’s career life was the drab 1970’s office décor.
I had friends in the travel industry and I envied them. Oh, how I envied them! Trips to sunny and exotic destinations, lunches (with wine), cool bosses, company cars and fancy offices. It was the early 90s – the money was flowing and the industry was nothing short of the wild, wild west. With a little help from my very own Rhoda, I landed an interview with the biggest tour operator in town. I remember a few things as if it were yesterday: walking into the very slick office and announcing myself to the impossibly beautiful receptionist; waiting on the lush brown sectional that could have seated 20; lots of brass and lots of glass. I was already hooked.
The interview itself was more of an extended chat over tea, aptly served with cup and saucer (house rules, I later learned). It was with the vice-president of marketing, and we connected right away. I had found Mr. Grant! He regaled me with stories of the excesses of the industry and trips to places I could only imagine. Mid-way through our talk, he looked me square in the eyes, paused for effect, and said, “Denny, it’s a sexy business…it’s a sexy business.” I thought it kind of funny at the time and I’m sure I blushed; no one had ever called me Denny and I certainly had never thought of any business as sexy.
I didn’t get the job.
But I did get the next one that came up. Fast forward 25-plus years and I am still hooked. As we say in the travel industry, I “have sand between my toes.” While it’s an industry that is now having difficulty attracting new talent, it’s also an industry that one rarely leaves. The few who do venture out in search of greener pastures come back more often than not.
So, for those thinking about a career in travel or for those in the business that worry about advancement or money or security, always remember – it’s a sexy business. Truer words have never been spoken.