Name: Todd Bridges
Position title: Vice President of Global Business Development
Company name: Collette
When and why did you join the industry?
I was 26 years old and I had just returned from travelling the world with a good mate of mine and needed to get back into professional sales. Someone mentioned that a company named Collette Vacations was in Cincinnati looking for a DSM. I had never heard of Collette back then, but here I am 24 years later.
What do you like most about your job?
In my role now as VP Global Business Development, I love learning new markets around the world, and having the opportunity to build new, hopefully long-lasting, partner relationships that ultimately become great friendships.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
Beating my boss, Christian Leibl-Cote, in golf.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
Kevin Kramich, who used to be Collette’s EVP of Sales for 25 years, always said that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason, we need to listen twice as much as we speak.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Certainly our CEO Dan Sullivan Jr, but I know James Cartmell gave that answer in a previous interview with ETB News so I’d have to say our current EVP and member of Collette’s Executive committee, Paula Twidale. I would consider her to be one of the most powerful women in the travel industry. She is about to become the first female Chairman of USTOA in the states, so we at Collette have been lucky to have Paula in our organization for the last 25 years.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
I think the biggest thing is that Collette continues to strive to be the best value in 4 to 4.5 star escorted touring. We continue to try to be innovative with things like our new door to door chauffeur service here in Australia, and then we just want to give our clients the best, personalized service that they deserve.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
I will achieve one next May at Collette’s global sales meeting visiting Peru and the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. I was scheduled to travel to Egypt the morning of Sept. 11th, 2001 and we know what happened that day; I’d like to make it to Egypt, as well.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
I’ve had so many “Wow” moments in my travels over the years, but I think when I felt the most spoiled and was living a dream was when my wife and I had the privilege of taking the hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara in Kenya early one morning and landed in the middle of the game reserve where they had a beautiful full champagne breakfast set up for us. We had armed guards protecting us from any hungry lions as we were eating beef wellington and drinking champagne, surreal!
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
My Bose noise reducing head phones (love!), a good book, and my laptop.
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
Seems like Jennifer Aniston enjoys going to resorts in Mexico so that would be a win/win J
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
Well, in our escorted tour market specifically, we need to continue to adapt to the wants and needs of the new baby boomer market. This upcoming generation likes to have a bit more independence in their travels and seems to like to get off the beaten path a bit more than generations of the past. Small group touring is going through the roof. Every agent we stop in to visit mentions this. Our product design team is constantly searching for new creative ways to entertain and educate this next generation of travellers. These are the things that Collette will be focusing on moving forward.
Todd Bridges, Vice President of Global Business Development