"As a child my father worked for Air Canada, so I was one of those kids who missed school to go to Barbados three times a year. Upon leaving University I needed to find a way to get those travel perks back, so I picked up a part time job in a small tour operator, proceeded to get my IATA designation, and the rest is history."
Now, Tanya Johnson is a business development manager for Uplift, a position she's held since June 2019.
Uplift, which came into the Canadian market in early 2019, is a new travel-tech company which aims to “enable travel brands to provide a better way to shop, book, pay and experience travel,” including the option for customers to pay for travel by installment.
"It’s a start up, so my day-to-day responsibilities can be full of many different things," Johnson said. "At the moment, most of my time is spent training and onboarding new accounts and account management. Every day I learn something new, truly; I know it sounds cliché, but with our innovation and technology, we keep moving forward, and it's exciting!"
This week, PAX checks in with Johnson, who currently lives in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood, to learn more about that time she had to outrun an ostrich, a Greek recipe she can't quite recreate, and the most expensive souvenir she bought that stirred up some wicked dance moves.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Tanya Johnson (TJ): Running shoes, headphones, fuzzy socks.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
TJ: Wales, because it's my home; I am surrounded by mountains, coastline and my family. Another top spot was the Peloponnese region in Greece. The mountain, beaches, villages and ruins were incredible. If you haven’t been, go. I hope to go back one day and spend more time there. Overall, anywhere close to water and mountains would be my happy place.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
TJ: LHR, because I love the chaos, diversity of the people and the shops. And of course it means I’m back in the U.K.!
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
TJ: People first, it's what makes the travel industry the great space it is. I feel very privileged to a part of this industry, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many fun and interesting people at home and on our travels. My career to date has been filled with many great memories, and I look forward too many more.
As for my job, we are bringing a new payment concept to the industry, opening up the doors of travel for everyone. We have received so many heartwarming stories from our partners on how they have helped bring travel to their customers.
Uplift has brought the best talent in each department of our company together, and I enjoy watching, learning and contributing to our growth.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
TJ: The first vacation that I can remember would have been Barbados. I remember never wearing shoes and spending time with the locals, and my father learning to carry groceries on his head (it wasn’t pretty). Now, looking back, I think there may have been some local rum involved.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
TJ: A glass of Louis 13th Cognac while in Miami years ago. Admittingly, I didn’t actually pay for it (it my husband did), I just ordered it. I do remember thinking I had some pretty wicked dance moves after.
PAX: What was the most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where did you eat it?
TJ: It was a lamb and preserved lemons dish baked in a wood oven in a tiny hidden restaurant in Greece. I’ve tried to recreate it many times, but no luck yet.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
TJ: People who clap when an aircraft lands, it’s a bit like giving yourself a round of applause every time you park your car.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
TJ: I think its still hiding. That said, I run a lot and long distances, too! I'm always travelling, even on foot! I’d like to complete 100km race one day. I’m not sure it’s a talent, and a lot of people call it crazy. Some would say I’m a pretty good cook, too.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
TJ: A bit of both, I like it up for landing and take off, and down when in-flight.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
TJ: There is the time I was on a plantation tour in Jamaica, getting a little bored on the wagon ride back (sorry to whoever the guide was). My friend I jumped off when no one was looking and decided to make our own way back.
We cut through a nice-looking field, and within minutes the ground felt as if it was moving. We looked back to see a very large and angry ostrich coming our way. We literally ran for our lives and hopped the gate just in time, so it was a mix of hysteria and fear. All the while the tour group on the wagon was watching, and we were totally "those guys"! We did the walk of shame back to wagon, and everyone seemed to enjoy the entertainment we provided.
PAX: What are a few things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to Uplift?
TJ: Uplift is built around our partners, we don’t offer a product, we offer the capability for travel agents to offer more options to their customers. We work exclusively within the travel industry and with travel trade only.
Our goal is to make travel more accessible, affordable and rewarding. Our innovation keeps moving forward, so stay tuned!
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