Zeina Gedeon is talking patties – Jamaican patties – the kind that were once served at and became synonymous with Sunquest product launches back in the day. They will be served again, she implies, shaking a finger at a reporter. Challenge accepted!
Gedeon, the brand new CEO of TravelBrands, has plenty of challenges ahead, the least of which is likely to be what to serve at a Sunquest trade show. Taking over a company currently in CCAA creditor protection tops the list, but it’s an opportunity the gregarious – and formidable – former Air Canada VP (she left the airline in 2014) and president of Air Canada Vacations, relishes, reports managing editor, Michael Baginski in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.
Indeed, Gedeon recalls her days as a travel agent in the early ’90s, “growing up” on iconic companies like Sunquest, Intair and Holiday House – now TravelBrands staples – to the point of wanting to work there.
“They’re brands that were very close to my heart because I grew up with them… So when they approached me… I thought this, oh my god, life is funny,” she laughs.
She admits that in recent years “the companies have really suffered,” and that her goal is to “bring them back to the glory they used to be, what they can be. Because the reality is that they are very strong brands; I truly believe in what they are doing and, at the same time, there are very good people that work in this company… I want to make a difference and change it and make them be the amazing giants they should be.”
A start will be for TravelBrands to emerge from creditor protection, a move that Gedeon reveals may come soon. “I will assure you, it’s not going to be very long whatsoever. And hopefully in the next week we will have very good news… It is very positive.”
The company, which counts 12 wholesale and five retail brands under its corporate umbrella, entered CCAA protection in May to deal with what the company termed “certain isolated legacy issues” (known to be its deals with Sears Travel and leases on office space) from its takeover of Thomas Cook Canada.
For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press by clicking here.