This one could be a tear-jerker! Mark Bondy has worked in the hospitality/travel/incentive industry since 1980. As the owner of VIKTOR Incentives in Traverse City, Michigan, he sold his company to David Jobes and became part of the transition team at Motivation Excellence in January of 2022 leading up to his impending retirement in April 2023. Some of us have only known him a short time, but it’s been clear that he has immense character and positivity. For those who have worked with or for him longer, his retirement will mark the end of an era! Read on, and watch our Get to Know ME segment on a man many call Friend!
What’s your current title and how long have you been in the incentive industry?
Currently I’m the Vice President, Chief Transition Officer at Motivation Excellence. I started working in the travel/hospitality industry in 1980, learning more about incentive travel starting in 1984.
You sold your company (VIKTOR) to David Jobes and Motivation Excellence in 2022. What do you hope/think the future holds for our new combined team?
Great things have already been accomplished over the last year of transition, and even better things are yet to come for the future of Motivation Excellence. My goals in selling were to create greater opportunities for VIKTOR team members and clients, and at the same time help David with his growth plans. To date, we have merged personnel and operations seamlessly, and nearly every client has been transitioned over to Motivation Excellence. With so many similarities between the two companies, yet also many individual best practices that have been combined, I believe the future is extremely bright for Motivation Excellence, our employees, and our clients.
What’s something special the people who work in the travel industry share?
Well, probably no one would be in this industry if they didn’t enjoy traveling, seeing new places, and meeting culturally diverse people from around the world. But ultimately, I think we share the passion to serve our clients by providing business solutions and memorable incentive-earning experiences to their people.
What’s your advice for newbies entering the field after your retirement?
Understand that every job requires hard work, and there aren’t any positions in our industry that would be considered an exception. So, while the allure of traveling the world is foundational, be sure you also bring a passion for serving others. You will be well rewarded with smiles and appreciation!
If there was one sentiment you hope people come away from you with, what is it?
Understanding my passion for excellence. I’ve always been a hard driver, whether as a business owner or a father. While the perfectionist in me might be difficult to understand at times, I’ve always sought equal commitment from others in my pursuit of looking out for the best interest of everyone.
What are some accomplishments and positions you’ve held throughout your career?
I’ve been in the tourism business since the start of my professional career. After graduating from college, I moved to Aspen, learning the hospitality industry from the ground up. It was fun as a 20-something-year-old to live there and it confirmed my interest in the tourism industry. Following that, I was Regional Sales Manager for a major Midwest tour operator. This significantly broadened my travel experience and taught me about different segments of the travel industry. From there, the next step was jumping into the incentive travel arena, where I’ve been ever since. After learning sales and operations at two different incentive companies (one was actually Motivation Excellence back in the 90s!), I made the move to Traverse City, Michigan, where I honed that knowledge and a few years later became an owner of VIKTOR Incentives & Meetings. My goal had always been to own and run a small business. Learning along the way, and making some mistakes too, it has been a great career and has enabled me to provide for others and my community. On top of it all, I’m blessed with friendships around the world.
What’s an unknown or odd talent you have?
While it might not be odd or unknown, people are always interested to hear I’ve made several heli-skiing and snowcat skiing trips to the Canadian Rockies. So, hopping out of helicopters and skiing the steep and deep is probably the most interesting talent I have.
What motivates you to accomplish things in your life (work or personal)?
Using my knowledge, experience, and talents to make the world or the part of it I’m in, just a little better. Whether it’s building success in business or helping others who I have the ability to positively impact, I’ve always been motivated to constantly improve myself and help others. Plus, I’m a list checker, so I am very motivated when I’m able to check off my goals or things on my to-do list.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Family and friends are very important to me. So, I’m very social and like to do group activities, whether it’s skiing, golf, or traveling with others. In retirement, I plan to see as many of the places around the world that I haven’t experienced as I can or have been to but want to show my wife Dawn. I still very much have the travel bug! With the blessing of two wonderful children who have given Dawn and me three grandchildren so far, I also like to spend as much time as possible being Papa to them!
One thing that always makes you laugh is?
My dog, Mojo. He’s a two-year-old Golden Retriever who is quite vocal (not barking) and makes me laugh when he’s trying to get my attention or wants something!
This month, our theme for social media is tackling resistance to change. What do you do to increase your flexibility in a changing environment?
I like to remain open to any change in my environment, so I’ve never had a big problem with change. I believe it is always an opportunity, whether it might seem so at first or not. Probably what helps me most is gaining an understanding of the need for change, developing a strategy, gathering the input of others, and ultimately being decisive. In the end, change will always be for the better… you just have to make it that way. That doesn’t mean you just sit back and let things happen. You must participate and make the best of the opportunity. Time and time again, I’ve looked back on hard times and am happy about the changes I’ve made.