Pilon School of Business
Degree: Travel and Hospitality
Year of graduation: 1975
Susan Webb carves out a niche in Canada’s tourism industry
When it comes to building a successful business, forging and maintaining strong business relationships is top priority.
Susan Webb, the founder of VoX International, says she credits the growth of her company to the relationships she formed early on in her career. Webb gained the trust of the clients she serves, truly making her the voice of experience — the inspiration behind the company name.
VoX is a destination representation, PR and marketing firm for vacation destinations. While the company is based in Canada with a head office in Toronto and additional employees in Montreal and Vancouver, VoX’s client base is made up of global tourism organizations.
“I sometimes have to go to places like Kenya, Hawaii, Texas and Australia – it’s a tough life,” jokes Webb.
While Webb has worked in tourism for a number of years, she originally wanted to be a teacher. A summer of travelling Europe following high school graduation inspired Webb to search for a different, travel-focused career, which in turn led her to Sheridan’s tourism and travel program.
Webb began her career booking executive and corporate travel, moving eventually to a sales position at tour operator SkyLark Holidays. She went on to work at a number of tour operators and retailers including American Express Travel, Adventure Tours/ITH/Signature Vacations and Canada 3000 Holidays.
Unfortunately, the events of Sept. 11 rocked the travel industry, causing many tour operators to close, including the one Webb was working for at the time. She began to reinvent herself, reaching out to the contacts she made over the years.
“Originally I thought I would go into consulting, but it seemed like there was a lot of opportunity to help destinations and tourism brands in Canada and thus, 16 years ago, VoX was born,” she says.
A key component to VoX’s inception was building a solid team — hiring people that were skilled as well as passionate.
The second necessity to the company’s growth was having that team build and maintain good relationships. While networking and relationships are key to any business, it’s particularly important in the tourism industry, where the product being sold isn’t a tangible item. “We’re selling dreams, so we have to make sure everything we do is great,” says Webb. “I know I can pick up the phone and call senior people in the industry around the world because of the relationships I’ve kept over the years.”
Today, the VoX International team is comprised of more than 25 professionals specializing in marketing, social and digital media, communication, public relations, sales and administration.
Webb credits Sheridan for starting her career and broadening her perception of what opportunities were available in the travel industry.
“I remember my Sheridan professor, who owned a travel agency, really inspired me to say ‘hey, there’s lot more you can do in this industry – just learn the basics of travel, and that will help in your career no matter what you do.”
While managing VoX, Webb also makes it a priority to give back to the tourism industry. She was elected president of Skal Canada, an organization of tourism professionals from around the world, and is president of Discover America Canada, a networking forum that focuses on increasing awareness of and building Canadian tourism to the U.S. She has been nominated for Royal Bank of Canada’s Women Entrepreneur of the Year every year since 2011.
“I get real inspiration when I go and talk to students in the programs – these are our leaders of tomorrow, so being able to share some of experiences that I’ve gone through in my career gives me a lot of satisfaction,” she says. “And I always wanted to be a teacher, so I get to go back and teach a bit. It’s the best of both worlds.”