Destination Directory

Five Minutes With: Michelle Hundt Tupman

Vice President | Great Canadian Holidays

Michelle Hundt Tupman quite literally grew up with the business her parents, Larry and Lorna Hundt, started in 1984.

"All the facets of running a tour operation were part of our family's fabric and I grew within it very organically. I don't remember a time when I didn't work in the business in some way." Stuffing envelopes as a child led to filing and other administrative tasks. Tupman joined Great Canadian Holidays' Reservations department during high school and moved into Product Development by college. As Vice President, she oversees the company's operations, product development and sales.

Interesting travel industry changes
Change is about the only constant in this industry! The market has gone through tremendous changes over the course of our company history. As demographics shift, the types of tour product people are looking for and the way they like to travel have shifted. People view themselves more individually now; they appreciate choice and autonomy, but still enjoy the security and convenience of having things organized for them in a group setting. Technology has created huge waves in the way we do business and the way people research and purchase travel. So many tools are at our fingertips, so we can learn vastly more about a destination or a supplier in little time. Likewise, people purchasing travel are far more educated about the destinations than ever before, since their ability to research is easy and accessible.

Challenges facing the industry
It's critical to stay nimble in the face of the many unexpected challenges that arise. Whether it's severe weather and its effects, unexpected currency fluctuations, political or social events that change the public's perception of a place—there's so much we can't control or accurately project. Ensuring there is infrastructure and capacity to handle increasing tourism demands in many hotspots is revealing its importance in combating "overtourism." As an operator, making sure we can still deliver a great quality experience as the volume in prime destinations grows is of paramount importance.

Opportunities
There are so many opportunities for getting creative and offering unique product to service niche markets. Travelers increasingly seek authentic, off-the-beaten-path experiences, so the potential for new tour product has been blown open and no longer limited to traditional attractions. Demographics play a huge part in the industry's opportunities. Baby boomers and millennials are huge cohorts that love travel, each with very different desires and needs. Developing product and offering it in an appealing way for those major sectors is a tremendous opportunity.

What every newcomer should know
Know that you can't do it alone! Delivering a great travel experience relies on so many people and businesses coming together in partnership to offer a cohesive and seamless tour to our common client. Foster partnerships with like-minded organizations and suppliers, so the values and level of service you intend to provide will be delivered at every turn. We're so lucky to work in such a dynamic and rewarding industry; helping make people's dreams come true and giving them priceless memories is an incredible opportunity and responsibility. When the day-to-day challenges get you down, remember that!

Edited by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in Groups Today.