Raising a glass to say thank you to visionaries Anevich, Roos
Vision Travel's Brian Robertson, Arend Roos, Darlene Roos and Stephanie Anevich

Raising a glass to say thank you to visionaries Anevich, Roos

TORONTO — It was a who’s who in the travel industry at a Vision Travel reception at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto last night as suppliers, retailers and well-wishers came out to say thank you, good luck and happy retirement to Arend Roos, wife Darlene Roos and Stephanie Anevich.

Vision Travel President (Ontario-West) Brian Robertson kicked off the festivities with a look back at the history of Vision Travel. When the company first came together in 2000 “after a lot of back room meetings” it had $140 million in sales. Consolidation followed with Vision Travel in the east and west.

Then in spring 2017 Vision Travel announced its merger with Direct Travel Inc., one of the top travel management companies in the U.S.

And in November 2017 Vision Travel and Direct Travel said they planned to build on their merger by joining forces with travel management company ATPI to form Direct ATPI Global Travel.

Together Vision Travel, Direct Travel and ATPI now represent over $7 billion in sales, with 160+ locations in more than 50 countries and over 4,500 team members worldwide.

Raising a glass to say thank you to visionaries Anevich, Roos

“It’s been a great journey for Vision Travel President (Quebec-East) Joel Ostrov, Arend, Stephanie and myself,” said Robertson.

For Arend Roos it all started with a travel agency that he didn’t even want to buy.

In 1973 he got a job at Maple Leaf Travel where “we would sell memberships – there was no such thing as charters back then, no advance booking charters in those days.”

Fast forward a few months and the government gave ABCs the green light. “And Eddie Carroll said, ‘We’re going to sell this travel agency.’ He asked me, how much would you give me for it?’ I told him I didn’t want to buy it. And he said, ‘Well, if you did, how much?’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t give you a penny over $2,500.’ And he said ‘Sold’.”

Raising a glass to say thank you to visionaries Anevich, Roos

Brian Robertson, President, Vision Travel (Ontario-West) and Brad Ford, President, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold

Roos and his brother came up with the $2,500 and bought the agency. “I was 20 years old. We had two black rotary dial phones and two OAGs. The greatest advancement was when we got auto-redial.”

It’s 45 years since those days, said Roos, who ran Roos Travel Agency for more than two dozen years alongside wife Darlene. As one of the founders of Vision Travel in 2000, Roos headed up Mergers & Acquisitions, and he’s been busy. Vision Travel has expanded in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the company is still very much in growth mode with moves just in the past several months including a deal with travel agency owners Peter and Linda Van Der Heyden, with 12 locations across southern Ontario, and the acquisition of UNIGLOBE One Travel, one of the largest independently owned travel management companies in Western Canada.

“It’s been a great ride,” says Roos, adding he has no regrets. “If you can look at yourself in the mirror and think, ‘you know what, we didn’t do a bad job’, then you’re doing okay.”

Stephanie Anevich, Vision Travel’s Executive Vice-President, Leisure Travel, caught the travel bug early too. She loved working at the family business, Rogers Travel, so much that from the age of 8 she was taking two buses, on her own, to get to the travel agency to help out her parents with anything that needed to get done. “I wanted to – I loved it,” she said, noting that an early detour into the world of fashion wasn’t enough to keep her away from the travel industry. She came back and the rest is history.

Raising a glass to say thank you to visionaries Anevich, Roos

John Coffman, CFO, Direct Travel; Stephanie Anevich, EVP, Leisure Sales, Vision Travel; Stephen Smith, Senior VP, Marketing & Loyalty, Vision Travel

Robertson and Anevich married in 2000, capping a year that also including the founding of Vision Travel. Robertson took on the corporate side and Anevich the leisure side. “I am so lucky to be one of the founding partners of Vision Travel,” said Anevich. “There were some good days, some bad days, but mostly awesome days.”

She credits Vision’s success to its front-line agents. “They have knowledge, they have creativity in planning and they have excellent customer service skills.” She also gave a shout-out to Direct Travel: “They’re brilliant, they’re kind and they make us look fantastic.”

Last night’s party, with plenty of stories and a champagne toast, was capped by the news that Vision Travel will commemorate Stephanie, Arend and Darlene’s contribution to the travel industry with four new bursaries at four colleges known for their travel and tourism programs: Humber College, Seneca College, SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) and the Canadian Tourism College in Vancouver.

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