summer and cell phones are ringing all across the
nation's golf courses. In the travel industry, deals
are done between drives and rates are negotiated
as putts are perpetrated. Dozens of industry golf
classics entice company execs, suppliers, preferred
partners and/or members out for a little appreciation
as well as som R&R.
One of the staples of the summer
circuit is the annual SkyLink tournament in Toronto,
which entered its eighth year this year. And, while
the event was originally designed as a thank-you
for SkyLink suppliers, over the years it has taken
on a higher purpose: raising funds for charity.
This year, SkyLink raised $30,000
for the tele-health program at Toronto's Hospital
for Sick Children. Company chairman Surjit Babra
notes proudly that every penny of the corporate
donations made went to the hospital.
"The golf tournament has two
functions," says Babra: "To say thanks
to the airlines and our suppliers; it's a get-together
like Christmas. But, when you're getting together
you might as well do something..."
So popular is the event that players
actually fly in from across Canada and the US for
it. And it is appreciated.
SkyLink's contribution has been
exceedingly important in bringing telemedicine into
the realm of mainstream medicine, " says Dr.
Robert Filler, a pioneer of the program, which allows
hospital professionals to educate and treat patients
residing in remote areas via video and teleconferencing.
Babra says SkyLink was motivated towards its altruistic
mission (it has also sponsored such other charitable
endeavours as camps in Rwanda and United Nations
charities) by its exposure in business ventures
around the world.
For example, SkyLink Aviation, one of the SkyLink
Group of Companies, provided helicopter support
in the recent war in Afghanistan.
"We're all over the world...
and we come from all over the world," says
Babra of SkyLink, " and we've seen a lot of
misery. When we return to Canada, this is the most
beautiful country in the world... So we try to return
something; we're fortunate people!"
"SkyLink is a complicated company. Even people
who work for SkyLink don't know entirely what it
does. But it's successful," says SkyLink director
Ken Taylor, best known as the former Canadian ambassador
who helped shelter Americans in Iran during the
Toronto-based SkyLink boasts no
less than 10 divisions that span the aviation gamut
from cargo to security. The company is best know
in the travel retail sector as a consolidator or
airline tickets, as well as the proprietor of tour
operators SkyLink Holidays and Tourcan.
New SkyLink projects include the
development of a booking engine for travel agents,
to be launched Sept. 1, and a marketing program
for retail agencies.
"We are a solution [to travel
agents]," says Babra, "and as long as
we are useful to them, we'll be in business."
And as long as they are in business,
less fortunate souls will continue to benefit.
2002 - Travel