Say G’day to the heroes of the Travel Industry in our new interview series. These are the much-loved people that continue to inspire others by going above and beyond in their everyday roles in travel.
Meet Fiona Dalton, the cruise passionate Managing Director of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises in Australia.
From starting out as a bullion trader for Rothschild Australia to enjoying a glittering sales career at American Express and heading up Qantas Holidays portfolio of brands, Fiona believes there’s no other industry that allows you to marry your passion for travel with creating meaningful purpose every day.
Most recently, Fiona spearheaded the new ‘U by Uniworld’ Cruise brand for millennials, which has already created a huge buzz in the industry for its truly innovative approach to cruising.
Anyone who knows Fiona will tell you that she has always put her customers first and made it her business to develop personal, longstanding relationships with anyone she’s worked with across the industry.
Which is one of the main reasons why she’s so highly respected by her industry peers.
Fiona has also dedicated valuable time to the Travel Industry Mentoring Program (TIME) to help nurture and develop future leaders and the next generation to prosper.
Say hello to Fiona.
Tell us a bit about what you do, Fiona.
As part of the team working for The Travel Corporation, I’m responsible for the strategic direction of the Uniworld and U by Uniworld brands in Australia.
What do you love most about working in the travel industry?
I love that our industry can have such a positive impact on people’s lives.
How has working in travel changed you?
Travel helps us see the world and its people through different lenses, and travelling provides for many perspectives.
Working in travel shows me that life is not black and white, it’s a kaleidoscope of colours and helps me be more tolerant and more appreciative of the world’s diversity.
Tell us about a recent, amazing travel experience
Launching our newest ship in Paris, the SS Joie De Vivre, earlier this year tops the list.
To witness the christening of this ship, not just because she is simply stunning and is bringing so much joy to our guests, but because she represents such an important tourism tribute to the people of Paris, at a time when they really needed it most, was a proud moment for us all.
You also can’t go wrong when you combine the beauty of Paris and Northern France with the best food and wine in the world on the most luxurious river ship to sail in France today.
What’s the weirdest/most amusing job you’ve ever had?
Weirdest? Well in my twenties I was a bullion trader for Rothschild Australia.
Our trading team worked around the clock and lucky me got the graveyard shift for a couple of years.
That meant getting up at 3 am every morning and being at my desk in the city of 4.15 am then working through to 2 pm.
Weird yes, amusing no.
Adrenalin rush? Everday.
What’s the most eye-opening/funniest thing you’ve ever seen on your travels?
When a guy on my flight years ago took a sleeping pill prior to taking off and woke up 6 hours later only to find out we hadn’t left the gate due to a delay!
Pays to wait till you’re in the air.
How can we as an industry ‘travel to change the world?’
By making sure the collective whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
For me, it means helping to leave the planet in a better place than I found it.
One way I can personally do this is to support the important work that TTC’s Treadright Foundation is doing with organisations like Just a Drop whose focus it is to deliver high impact interventions in water supply, sanitation and hygiene with the involvement of community leaders in Cambodia.
Or Treadright’s partnership with the Happy Heart Foundation founded by Petra Nemcova, our U by Uniworld Guardian Angel, who are committed to rebuilding safe, resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters.
What’s your number one in-flight travel tip?
Invest in a pair of great quality noise cancelling headphones.
You’ll be thankful no matter where you’re sitting on the plane.
I think Bose should offer an industry discount! Did you hear that Bose?
What’s your favourite travel app?
What advice would you give an industry newbie?
Jump in feet first, soak up all the training you can attend, find a mentoring group, build a long-term plan then strap in and enjoy the ride.
There’s no other industry that allows you to marry your passion for travel with creating meaningful purpose every day.
They say happiness doesn’t make you grateful, being grateful makes you happy – and that pretty much sums up how I feel about working in the travel industry.
Have you met the lovely Fiona Dalton on your travels? Want to get involved too? Drop us a line here and let’s introduce you to the wider world of travel.
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