This piece originally published in the Key Notes on Travel summer issue. In this special section, we take pause to recognize and profile the many dedicated professionals who work to support Canadian travel advisors every day. Selling travel involves wrangling a lot of moving pieces and we tip our hats to those who help bring it all together.
Brand Development Manager, British Columbia and the Yukon
YEARS IN TRAVEL: 13
FOR EMILY SPADAFORA, a WestJet BDM, the most challenging thing about her job is also what she enjoys most: no day is ever the same.
She explains, “Imagine what it would be like if you had to be somewhere different every day…with a new partner whose needs are different from the last. Now, throw in an event, training, a partner review, a problem file, an environmental/economic/social factor that you can’t control, and what you have is a day in the life of a business development manager.
I love my job because any challenge can be overcome. I find it really fulfilling when I reach a point of synchronicity with a partner; when we have both come to the table, set goals and created a plan that will benefit both of our respective books of business, it’s a big win-win.”
With a background that includes studying travel and tourism at Seneca College, years spent working for The Travel Corporation in London, England, time in Calgary with Trafalgar and an exciting stint with Contiki, Emily has a steadfast work ethic and a willingness to put clients first. During her eight years with WestJet, she’s transitioned from sales representative for southern Alberta and Saskatchewan to business development manager for B.C. and the Yukon.
Spadafora sees her career as a progression, with every vital step having led to her present position.
“It’s been an evolution, no one thing could have happened without the other. I have always believed that honesty, dedication to your brand, openness to change and continued education is what it takes to propel you forward,” she says.
Spadafora is so enthusiastic that it’s hard to get to her to point to any problems, but if pressed, she’ll admit that time is always tighter than she wishes.
“The biggest hurdle is the pace of operation because ours is a time-sensitive, fast-paced market. We need to get information out, make sure it’s understood, show relevance to our buyer and make certain that it’s operationally bookable. There are a lot of hours – days, evenings, weekends – whatever it takes, but I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this evolving airline.”
Clearly, Spadafora is a passionate WestJet ambassador and would encourage anyone thinking of a career in travel to climb aboard.
“I can’t think of another industry that is as diverse, interesting or rewarding as ours. Talk to someone who can give you some insight. Networking is important but don’t just send an e-mail – pick up the phone. A conversation might be all you need to decide if this is something you should pursue. Think outside the obvious verticals of the business. If you don’t want to be a BDM, maybe you want to be a travel agent or work in operations, analytics, marketing, network planning or groups sales. Maybe you want to be a tour guide or a pilot – the sky is the literal limit.”
We asked WestJet, why Emily?
Emily is a passionate WestJetter and BDM who constantly drives for the success of her partners and the business while maintaining strong relationships. Emily challenges the status quo and is always looking for opportunities for improvement. She has become a leader among her peers and is as passionate about the team’s success as her own.