2022 Canadian Travel Hall of Fame Profiles: Stephanie Anevich: Born to Travel
It’s hard to believe that the forever young Stephanie Anevich has spent over 50 years in the travel business. It’s one of those ‘Did you start when you were eight?’ situations.
In this case it is true.
Anevich is a rare creature – a third generation travel professional. His grandparents on his mother’s side owned Rogers Travel, a small North Toronto agency. His mother started working there part-time, then his father quit shoemaking and joined his wife and parents in writing steamboat tickets and round-the-world plane tickets.
Young Anevich was not forced into itinerant child labor. She loved the agency, with its colorful posters and brochures, and at age eight she took two buses alone to get there and help.
Following another passion, Anevich studied fashion design at Ryerson in Toronto, but soon found herself moving back to Rogers Travel.
“I was supposed to be a traveler,” she says. “I like to travel and I like to work.”
Anevich spent years working for her parents and grandparents, and eventually they worked for her as they headed into retirement. She credits them, especially her parents, with fostering the skills needed to run and grow a business.
“They gave me the courage to make decisions and the confidence to not be afraid.”
In 1984 Stephanie hired Brian Robertson at the agency and a lifelong personal and professional relationship began.
“Brian took care of the business side and I worked the leisure side. We just kept growing and slowly changing.
The year 2000 was a milestone for Anevich and Robertson in several ways. They were married that year and Rogers Travel became Vision 2000 Travel Group, with new partners. “Fortunately, they both worked,” says Anevich.
Over the next two decades, Vision grew by leaps and bounds, both organically and through acquisition, and in the business and leisure travel spheres.
With “bigger is better” the mantra of the travel industry, especially in business travel, Anevich says the next logical step after becoming the largest independent travel management company in Canada was to find a strong American partner. He found that partner in Direct Travel Inc., one of America’s leading travel management companies. Vision merged with Direct in the spring of 2017 and later that year Vision and Direct joined forces with travel management company ATPI to form Direct ATPI Global Travel.
In 2021, Direct Travel ranked #9 on Travel Weekly’s “Power List” of travel agencies with over $100 million in annual sales.
During the Vision years, the company became a member of the luxury travel network Virtuoso, with Anevich as its primary contact. The relationship blossomed, and in 2019, Anevich received the Rose of Siam Award, which annually honors a Virtuoso member who “embodies the spirit of their network, upholds the highest professional standards, and has worked selflessly for promote Virtuoso”.
The award has a deep history, dating back more than 30 years when, at the organization’s 1987 symposium in Bangkok, members of the network’s travel agencies awarded the first “Ruby of Siam” to the Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, Matthew D. Upchurch.
Upchurch himself presented the Rose of Siam award to Anevich, saying the description of the award fit perfectly with “Stephanie Anevich. She embodies our shared philosophy that we are all better together. It was meaningful to me when I won this award 30 years ago, and I am so happy to share it with someone as deserving as Stephanie.
Anevich says she was deeply honored to join a long list of big names in the travel industry in accepting the award.
“Since joining the Virtuoso network, I knew I was surrounded by amazing professionals and, above all, great people. To be recognized with this award, among this group of industry colleagues, is humbling and I gladly accept on behalf of all the excellent travel consultants I have worked with over the years.
Over his five decades in the travel industry, Anevich has seen the role of the travel agent change massively. “In the beginning, we just served everyone who came, for any type of trip. We were a little nervous when the internet came along, but it ended up making travel so complicated that travel agents went from order takers writing tickets to trusted advisors helping people have tailored travel experiences. that improve life.
“It really is a career now,” she says, “and it’s a role that’s more important than ever.”
Looking back, Anevich says adaptability is the most important factor in the success of the travel industry. “You must be such a chameleon. Massive change is a constant, from how we get paid to how people want to travel. I’m proud of how we’ve grown and grateful for all the wonderful colleagues I’ve had and the places I’ve seen.
Anevich still has one big thing on his to-do list: a trip to space. She was one of the first future astronauts to post bail for spaceflight and underwent zero-G and centrifuge training, which she calls one of the greatest thrills of her life.
She had a similar reaction after being named to the Canadian Travel Hall of Fame. “It was so exciting to be chosen by my peers,” says Anevich.