Did you know almost 70% of Atlantic Canada Cruise Association board of directors are women? Atlantic Canada’s cruise industry is led by many accomplished Atlantic Canadians from each province. On International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the women that lead the industry. Aquila Tours is the primary tour operator in Saint John, New Brunswick and is made up of a fully female team. We interviewed Danielle Timmons, Aquila Tours Director of Cruise Operations, to get her perspective on being a member of a female-led organization in Atlantic Canada’s cruise industry.
Timmons’ team is made up of diverse, accomplished women of different ages, backgrounds, skills and experiences. The team joins together to deliver “Aquilamazing” experiences for cruise guests, showing off the best of Saint John and the Bay of Fundy region. In addition to showing tourists our beautiful region, the Aquila team is an official training partner of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Assocation, sharing their skills with future tour guides, tour operators, destinations onboard teams and frontlines in cruise destinations all over the world.
We asked Danielle a few questions to learn more about how being a female-led company impacts her organization:
Q: How did you become a team of all women? How has this shaped Aquila as a company?
A: We have had men work in our office over the years, and we have lots of men on our seasonal team of tour guides, trolley drivers and pier side team members. Currently, all the best people for the roles at Aquila are the wonderful women on our team. One of the ways that having a team of all women in the office shapes us as a company is that we intentionally design a lot of flexibility in our work culture. We recognize that women are often the ones who have many other roles in their lives, and have many pressures and responsibilities outside of work. Our company culture is structured for flexibility and work/life balance. Some examples of this include a hybrid work-from-home model, extended time off over Christmas, Fridays off during the winter, a wellness allowance and more.
Q: What do you think could be a big challenge women face in the tourism/travel industry?
A: One of the biggest challenges in Canada’s tourism industry and around the world is labour shortages. These shortages were worsened over the past few years due to COVID-19. One of the related challenges to these shortages for women in particular is burnout. Tourism jobs can be demanding, especially if your team is short-staffed or inexperienced. In addition to this, women often work long hours both at work and at home, to help create the best outcomes for themselves, their companies and their loved ones.
Q: Do you have any advice for a girl/woman looking to get into the tourism/travel industry?
A: My advice would be to seek opportunities to build relationships with other women in tourism. Take someone you admire to lunch, ask to sit in on a project you’re interested in, volunteer on a planning committee for an event, etc. Find ways to show and grow your own leadership.
Q: For International Women’s Day, what is one thing you would like to share about the importance of women in the workplace?
A: As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” We need to unapologetically take our place at the table, express our opinions, and let our voices be heard. Each of us has the power to make a difference and help to create the world we want to live in.
Danielle and her team at Aquila Tours are making waves in the cruise industry. To learn more about Aquila Tours and the work that they do, visit www.cruiseexcellence.com.
Happy International Women’s Day from the Atlantic Cruise Canada Association! To learn more about International Women’s Day, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.