Think you know Paul Wiseman, think again…. He collects souvenir shot glasses, prefers the country to the city and knows the best spot in London for high tea.
There’s more to Paul Wiseman, president of Trafalgar and Brendan Vacations USA, than meets the eye, so we decided to ask him those comical, personal and telling questions to reveal the man behind the suit.
Although today he’s a cosmopolitan business executive with more than three decades of experience in the travel, tourism and hospitality field, Paul received his “start” in the industry stamping travel brochures at a local mall in Australia. We’ll let him explain in the first of a Q&A series we call Coffee Time With Industry Vets.
What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry?
After three weeks of visiting the same shopping mall, asking every storekeeper to employ me, Mr. John Seiffert, owner of Peninsula Travel, gave me a one-day-a-week job as a brochure stamper.
Where did you go on your first trip and how old were you?
I grew up with a small family in an Australian country town. My father died without flying ever. We took drive vacations to the beach. My first real trip more than 200 miles was in my first real job as a travel agent on a FAM trip to the ski fields in Victoria, Australia. I had to take an express bus 1,000 miles from Brisbane to Melbourne. In Sydney at the 500 mile mark, I got so sick I had to get off, forget the ski fields, spend three days holed up in nasty accommodations and then bus home. Not a great start to a travel career but it did not put me off!
What is your most vivid travel memory?
A travel day from New Delhi to the Taj Mahal in India. It’s 200 miles of the most amazing, challenging, confronting, stunning, intense visual experiences humanly possible with a fantastic guide who took my mind from blank canvas to clear picture not worth 1,000 words—more like a million.
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
It is actually where will I go. The “pre-moon” is in Italy. The honeymoon is in Hawaii. It’s a destination wedding with an opportunistic Europe trip in the lead up, in April and June, respectively.
What was your favorite trip you took last year and why?
Prague and Budapest. It’s just so different to anything, anywhere.
Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit?
Japan is on the list for this year!
Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?
Someone who travels as much as me has to be REALLY careful about how much is collected and ultimately stored at home! So I have two things. First is every airplane boarding pass I have ever been given. It will make fun wallpaper for a (very large) garage one day. There are thousands of them, but very easy to store. Second is I collect a shot glass from the places I go. They’re fun to bring out at parties, though I am way too old for many shots these days so they’re better for a dessert wine or a port.
You can tell us—do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?
Oh, heeeeeelll no!
What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?
I fly so often that frankly, it’s mostly just part of my workday. In the inconvenient 20 minutes from “put away your electronics” to 10,000 feet, I read news/books on the iPad. Then it is onto email for the entire flight if there is seat power or until the laptop dies, in which case we move to sleeping. If it is long-haul and I am still awake, a latest release movie.
The “escape module” is the Bose headset which allows for any unwarranted noises to go away. I have two older iPods with 1,000 songs on each ready to go in case of a screaming baby emergency!
Who is your favorite travel companion?
Her name is Andrea. See above for the honeymoon details!
If there was one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?
Now there is a question! Sorry, did you say room? No way—that would be a SUITE!
I am going to do it from my own experience rather than any theory. And if you can’t leave the room, then the hotel and the location become irrelevant, which really changes the game. It comes down to the room and the view. I would have said the Elvis Suite at the Las Vegas Hilton (now the Westgate Hotel) but I don’t think the suites that were born out of the original are actually available any more.
So, from what you can get today, the Reagan Presidential Suite at Ashford Castle in Ireland will do just nicely! And the food is WAY better than Vegas.
If you were a destination, which would it be and why?
Sunny, happy, fun.
Party. Music. People.
Scenery, water, car racing, people from around the world, casual.
THE GOLD COAST, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA!
What is the best food you’ve had on a trip? The strangest?
Breakfast or brunch – Top of the Mark in San Francisco
Lunch – Doyle’s at the Quay in Sydney Harbor, Australia
High Tea – The Ruben’s in London overlooking Buckingham Palace
Dinner – At the top of a mountain in New Zealand
The strangest: China, where they will eat anything with legs except a chair.
What can’t you travel without?
My briefcase. It becomes a backpack for leisure trips which has the Bose headphones, chargers and cables, sunglasses, wallet, mints, vitamins, ear plugs, eye shades, laptop and iPad.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?
Tropical beach or snowy mountain?
City or countryside?
Want to “hang out” with Paul on social media? Connect with him @Paul_Wiseman on Twitter and on facebook.com/paul.wiseman.351.