The daughter of a Canadian fighter pilot, Sarah Pack, MA 14, was born on an air force base in North Dakota. As is customary in the military, she and her family moved to a different base every few years, before settling on Montreal’s West Island when she was 13.
“Travel is in my blood,” says Pack. “I like to think of myself as a bit of a nomad. This mindset has definitely stayed with me in adulthood.”
While studying, Pack began to integrate travel into her summer jobs. She moved to Toronto at 18 to work as a flight attendant, interned for the Ministry of Finance in Oshawa, Ont., and after studying political science in Paris, France for a semester, she worked there at a Canadian bar.
After completing her Master of Arts in Economics at Concordia, Pack worked as the director of Commercial Partnerships at Voyages à La Carte, a growing North American consolidator in the travel industry. There, she managed Canadian airline relationships and helped to build out air supply for the U.S. market.
Pack’s love for travel then led her to Priceline, a subsidiary of online travel provider Booking Holdings, which provides travellers with ways to save on everything from hotel rooms and airline tickets to rental cars and vacation packages. As director of Flight Partner Services, Pack is responsible for building and maintaining profitable relationships with the company’s airline partners in North America.
“My job strikes the perfect balance between people and data,” she says. “I enjoy fostering strong business relationships through face-to-face meetings and analyzing sales trends.”
A travel comeback
As with many businesses forced to switch gears due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Priceline shifted its focus to helping customers navigate the uncertainty of cancellations and schedule changes.
“We implemented search filters such as enhanced cleanliness protocols and helped customers understand each carrier’s restrictions,” says Pack. “We introduced a free, tiered-VIP loyalty program to provide travellers with additional discounts and coupons.
“Priceline travellers flew more than 4.5 trillion miles in 2021. We are seeing pent-up demand for travel, and consumers are excited to resume this part of their lives,” she adds.
Laying the groundwork for success
Pack looks back on her student days at Concordia with pride. “I learned so much from my professors and found the program extremely challenging and stimulating,” says Pack, who specialized in macroeconomics and financial risk.
She is grateful to her thesis supervisor and former macroeconomics professor David Fuller for enriching her love of economics. “He broke down formulas and concepts in an effective way and made the material fun,” she says.
Pack adds that graduate program assistant Elise Melancon left a lasting impression: “Elise impacted everyone that walked through the Department of Economics in the Hall Building. You could tell that she genuinely cared about our success in the program.”
While at Concordia, Pack acted as vice-president, Internal, of the Economic Graduate Students Association. The opportunity helped her to hone her networking skills. “It motivated me to get out of my comfort zone. It empowered me, and I have carried this with me into my professional life.”
'The possibilities are endless'
Self-awareness and active listening have guided Pack both personally and professionally. “I think understanding what motivates your colleagues and business partners makes it so much easier when you’re negotiating and working together.”
When it comes to travel, Pack advises making early reservations or, if your lifestyle allows, taking advantage of last-minute deals to secure a great rate.
Like so many others around the world, Pack is ready to get back to exploring new sights for both work and pleasure. “New Zealand and Australia are big contenders for next year, although the possibilities are endless in travel,” she says.