It’s All About The Future


“Pretty optimistic,” is how Michael Friisdahl describes his mood when asked about his move to MLSE. “I think it’s like my luck with Air Canada. I was there for three of the best years in [the company’s] history and I think now is the right time to be with MLSE,” he says.

It’s certainly a big change, but after three decades in the travel business, change is something that the 53-year-old Friisdahl has dealt with on a daily basis, reports executive editor, Bob Mowat in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.

In fact, when you ask him about the changes he’s managed his way through during the course of his career in this industry, he’ll tell you: “You know, the more things change, in some respects, the more they stay the same. It’s an industry that continues to evolve and I’ve been very fortunate to have spent 30 years, you know, starting out very much as an entrepreneur with my own business [Nordic Tours] and then evolving that into a bigger business with the merger with Holiday House and then, of course, with our eventual sale of the combined business – the Holiday Network – to what was then North American Leisure Group (NALG).”

Friisdahl adds, “[The sale of the Holiday Network to NALG] really launched my career in more of the corporate part of the world. So having spent 10 years through the evolution of MyTravel and Thomas Cook, I had a good opportunity to get more involved, not just in the Canadian travel industry, but I also had businesses reporting to me in the US and was also very involved through the executive board at Thomas Cook in the international part of our business.”

In fact, throughout his career, Friisdahl always seemed to have been in tune with what was going on globally.

“I suppose that it comes from wanting to make sure that you’re diversified in the businesses that you’re involved with,” he observes. “Having gone through some difficult times early on in my career — and with our industry constantly susceptible to both natural disasters and other acts, such as terrorism and things of that nature – you have to make sure you have a very balanced business portfolio because eventually things are going to not go your way. So my focus was always to make sure that we had a very good balance in our business and could weather any eventual downturns in one area versus another.”

For the full story check out Canadian Travel Press’ annual Industry Forecast issue by clicking here.