We were saddened to hear that Bruce Bishins, president and CEO of ARTA Canada, passed away last week. For all those who knew Bruce, either personally or simply through his speeches, blogs and media, it is no exaggeration to say that our industry lost a titan. A powerful, compelling voice has fallen silent, but the impact of Bruce’s legacy will live on for decades.
In a time when travel agencies and travel agent groups are experiencing enormous pressures—economic, political and technological—Bruce was consistently forward-thinking and unabashed to share his view of our industry’s future. He embraced modernizing the industry, but always demanded that his constituents—the travel agents—not be overlooked in the process. No matter the venue or the audience, you could rely on Bruce and his inspired mind to deliver a solid, fair message that challenged all of us to think bigger and to walk our talk.
The last time I saw Bruce was at the Department of Transportation Consumer Protection meeting in August 2012 in Washington, DC. Seeing Bruce at this meeting took me by surprise as he no longer had the physical appearance of the man I had known for years. I learned he had suffered a pretty severe stroke months earlier, which had clearly taken its toll on him. Outwardly, he seemed a shadow of his former self, but inwardly it was the same old Bruce, with his never-ending passion to do the right thing and to call out others when they did not. While Bruce had clearly suffered from his stroke physically, his heart, soul, and even his sense of humor were all still intact. And despite his struggle to “get the words out,” Bruce delivered a power-punched speech to a room full of industry and Department of Transportation executives. At one point he told me he was learning to talk all over again and joked that was the last thing he expected he would ever have to do, but that he was up for the challenge… as he always was.
Bruce was very seldom at a loss for words, and he certainly was not on that day many of us saw him in DC. He was an outspoken leader for the travel industry, driven by passion, the quest for innovation, and personal creativity. His calm, compassionate yet powerful voice will be missed.