Melbourne, Australia native Bronwyn Wilson always intended to work in the travel industry. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in marketing and hospitality, she applied to Australian Pacific Touring’s (APT) training program.
“Being from Australia, we have a certain type of wanderlust, so it always made sense to me to go down this path,” says Wilson.
APT’s training program sought to give college graduates experience in all areas of business. After getting her feet wet, Wilson found she was most passionate about sales, marketing and product development. Over time, she worked as a product manager for APT before becoming national advertising manager.
This was the career line that eventually brought Wilson to the U.S. Realizing her skills, APT sent Wilson to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to help develop their new North American touring program, which was created to bring Australians and U.K. citizens to Canada and the U.S. on deluxe escorted tours.
This project stands as one of Wilson’s biggest accomplishments. At that point in time, APT wasn’t known in North America; Wilson built connections from scratch. “We’d literally walk into hotels and meet with coach operators and start contracting from nothing,” Wilson says.
To ensure success, she also built a close understanding with North American suppliers to facilitate the different expectations overseas travelers have.
“Today, APT’s Canada program is one of the largest inbound programs of escorted tours into Western Canada,” explains Wilson.
Wilson was appointed president of APT, North America in 1995. Her responsibility expanded to include the expansion of APT’s South Pacific products and marketing to the American and Canadian markets in addition to all sales and marketing for North American products. She also oversaw the administration of three offices, contracted with all major suppliers, and improved the wholesale distribution of products globally.
In 2012, after more than 20 years with APT, Wilson left to step into the role of president of the International Motor Coach Group (IMG), an association of bus companies throughout North America that produces elevated safety, service and quality guidelines its members must meet.
It was a natural progression for Wilson, who had been contracting with IMG companies through her previous position. IMG is only her second employer.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity and a great new challenge to join a well-regarded organization and help them with their sales and marketing to increase their profile,” says Wilson.
Although she hasn’t been in the position a full year, she’s already met with IMG’s staff to revisit strategic plans and re-identify goals for the next three to five years. “I really want to position IMG as a key partner for customers,” Wilson says.
Current projects include: refining branding; developing a better understanding of external customers; revamping IMG’s marketing message; improving communication; and reaching out to partner companies and suppliers to make sure they’re engaged with IMG.
“It’s a different kind of challenge; I’m working with 48 different companies within IMG, including some of the major motorcoach operators in North America,” says Wilson. “What I find most rewarding is they’re a dynamic group of people, who have wonderful individual businesses, and we can all work collectively.”
Wilson has been an active director on the board of the United States of Tour Operations Association and was appointed vice chairman in 2011. She also served on the board of the California Coalition of Travel Organizations in 2010 and 2011. When she’s not working, she’s an avid golfer and an extensive traveler.