Brand new to the travel business, Pink learned the ropes quickly after buying into a travel agency in Nova Scotia in 1979. It was the beginning of a 40-plus year career in this industry, one that Pink says he feels blessed to have. “Like most of us, our reward was to help our customers live their dreams,” he said.
Not only was Pink instrumental in running a successful travel agency, he also served as ACTA Atlantic President in the 1990s. Signing on for a two-year term, it ultimately extended to six years. “It was a great opportunity to meet some very fine people and get a better sense as to how the inside of the industry worked.”
Atlantic Canada has a well-deserved reputation for hosting some of the liveliest and best-attended industry events in travel. Many of those were ACTA Atlantic conferences. “I would be remiss if I did not say how successful our annual ACTA Atlantic annual conferences were. We attracted suppliers from all over the world,” said Pink.
More high-energy and highly productive events came courtesy of his agency’s membership in the Greater Independent Association of National Travel Services – better known as the GIANTS consortium. “They truly were a great organization and I met many wonderful people, namely David Lee, who asked me to sit on their advisory board for a two year term. It turned out that I was on that board for I think 12 years, only to be outdone by Daryl Silver of Continental Travel in Winnipeg.”
THE GREEN SCREEN
Pink shared more of his early years industry memories with Travelweek, as part of our 50th anniversary series running throughout the year.
“Back then we had one Reservec computer that we called ‘the green screen’ because it was sort of green but it was more like watching an old black and white tv for those that can remember that far back. We had no ticket printer or itinerary printer and I can remember many evenings and weekends bringing home the blank ticket stock, blank itineraries and a good stapler. In those days we had to use matching primary or conjunction tickets if we needed more than four coupons. We also used NUCs and FCUs too for international travel. It’s like we had our own language just like doctors,” he said.
“As time progressed we actually got to the point where each agent had their own computer and we had a ticket printer and an itinerary printer. This was in the mid-1980s I believe.
“Speaking of the 1980s, we had what I consider to be one of the biggest collapses in tour operator history with the shutdown of Sunflight / Skylark Holidays. While some passengers were stranded at destination, many others never got to take their holidays. There weren’t too many refunds to be given because there was no ‘fund’ in Atlantic Canada, or money to be had; it was gone. It was a real mess and my first of a few more to follow over the years.”
Anyone working in the travel industry these past decades knows just how hard world events impact this industry. Pink remembers each disruption well. “The travel industry always seemed to take a direct hit when something bad happened in the world. We had the Gulf War, then in 2001 we had 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, all of which caused layoffs as travel essentially came to a halt.”
Travelweek asked Pink about his most memorable bookings. “From my personal perspective, one of my most pleasant memories was securing tickets for a client and his family to attend midnight mass in the Church of the Nativity, Manger Square, Bethlehem,” he said. “Because of very tight security and strict protocols it was virtually impossible to get these tickets. Space was extremely limited, you had to be Catholic and the church officials had to inspect the actual passports of those in attendance. Imagine me sending eight passports from the family members to Israel! What a shock and surprise when the passports were returned to me along with the tickets to Midnight Mass.”
In 1999 Pink sold the travel agency. “It wasn’t struggling anymore, quite the opposite in fact, and I stayed on with the new owner until he sold it to Maritime Travel in 2005. While there I was Vice President, Operations and wore many hats, among them doing the leasing for its many branches and also putting the company’s fams together. I am particularly proud of the latter as the agents literally were able to participate in fams all over the globe. I believe I would still be [at the agency] today had it not been for COVID-19 in March 2020.”
Many travel professionals are coming back to the industry they love after the pandemic years, and that includes Pink.
Available for special projects on a contract basis, or as a rep for travel companies active (or looking to be) in the Atlantic Canada market, Pink can be reached at [email protected] or (902) 497-8509.
Want to take part in Travelweek’s 50th anniversary celebrations with your own industry memories? Email [email protected] or [email protected]. Images are welcome! Plus, try your luck with our contest, ‘It Happened This Week’, featuring a new headline (and a new chance to win!) every Wednesday from Travelweek’s 50 years of travel industry news coverage.
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