The travel industry has lost an individual of many facets, who touched the lives of countless people.
Frank Elmer Addison, whose last name was attached to travel trade shows that once crisscrossed Canada, passed away on Sunday (Oct. 22) at the age of 91, PAX has learned.
Frank, who was born on Jan. 17, 1932, passed away peacefully at St. John Palliative Care (UBC) surrounded by his wife and best friend Kathleen, and close family and friends, according to an obituary that PAX obtained.
He is survived by Kathleen, sons Victor and Jayson and daughter Mary Jane, and many other extended family members and friends.
Frank moved to Vancouver with his parents and four siblings in 1946. After many adventures as a young man, he began his career working for a major oil company.
Not being someone who liked to work for others, Frank later ventured into the burgeoning travel industry and eventually established 17 travel agencies in the Okanagan.
His travel interests also involved co-founding a travel literature distribution company, Contac Travel Marketing, in Vancouver, which later expanded to Toronto and Montreal.
The company distributed brochures for the travel industry and continued to do so after Addison sold the business in 2004.
With several partners, he also started New Horizon Holidays, one of the first Canadian tour companies for travel to Mexico and Hawaii.
He later sold this company and then, in 1981, he started Addison Travel Marketing, with his wife Kathleen, who joined him in the new enterprise, leaving her job at the Canadian Airlines reservation desk.
The Addison Travel Trade Show is born
The very first Addison Show took place in the fall of 1986 and it marked the official beginning of the "Addison Travel Trade Show" as it became known as.
That first event was held in just one city, in Vancouver, with 60 exhibitors, representing different areas of the industry, including all the major cruise lines, tour operators and more.
The city of Victoria was added in the fall of 1987. And then, by 1988 and 1989, the calendar expanded to include both spring and fall shows.
After that, the Addison Travel Trade Shows “started our march across the country,” as Frank told PAX in a 2008 interview.
Just the right sparkle
By 2001, the Addison Travel Trade Show had expanded fully into Eastern Canada and was conducting spring and fall shows across the country. Cities were constantly being added.
Quality control was important to Frank – so much so that the company assisted two brothers to form Levy Show Service, and "they were the people who did the pipe and drape for us for all those years,” Frank told us years ago.
The company would pay extra to have additional lighting in dimmer venues to ensure that every booth "had a bit of sparkle,” as Frank put it.
Frank sold the shows to ACT Communications in 2001 and handed off the day-to-day management of them to Rex Armstead in 2004. Frank, meanwhile, stayed on at Contac until 2006.
After retirement at 75, he and Kathleen enjoyed life in Ladner and Point Roberts.
For the past number of years, Frank and Kathleen lived in Vancouver and spent their winters at their much-loved second home in Palm Springs.
"It's show time, kiddies"
Nancy Benetton-Sampath, PAX’s vice-president, media and executive manager, was an employee of Frank’s trade show company, based in Vancouver, between 1995 and 2006.
“Frank’s name was synonymous with the iconic Addison travel trade shows that, still to this day, members of the travel industry reminisce about,” Benetton-Sampath said.
That includes memories of the pre-show opening announcement Frank would always make – "It's show time, kiddies,” which was “always loved and anticipated by exhibitors,” Benetton-Sampath recalled.
"Frank mastered a formula for orchestrating the ultimate ‘all-inclusive’ trade show experience in the industry,” Benetton-Sampath continued. "He thrived on the road at travel trade shows, and the relationships he cultivated with exhibitors and travel agents were invaluable.”
“Industry members frequently called or visited the office for expert advice and guidance. Frank was a great mentor to all of us and it was an honour to work alongside him."
As well, going to the office was like going home to a “second family,” Benetton-Sampath said.
This family included original team members Elvi Keough (now at Levy Show Services) and Christina Leon, and then later, Sue Watson (formerly with Tourism Vancouver), Darin Lee, Shirley Aldaba, Aviva William Kaminski and Janet Yee.
“And, of course, valued members of the ‘on-the-road team,’ including Doug Robertson, Hank Dziekan, Ross Keough (formerly of Contac Travel Marketing) and Randy Cunningham (Levy Show Services),” she said.
In an email to PAX, Kathleen Addison, who would have celebrated 45 years of marriage to Frank this Nov. 7, called her late husband “a good and honest man who helped many people – especially travel students and start-ups in the industry."
At Frank's request, there will be no service or celebration of life.
The family is extending its thanks Dr. Aaron Hoo and the staff at Harrison Healthcare for their “incredible support and guidance” over the past several months as well as the VGH Spine Clinic “for their valiant efforts.”
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that donations be made to the Delta Hospital Foundation, or a charity of choice, in Frank’s memory.