Pro­file

Pre­pared for Take­off

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY ME­LANIE PA­GAN

Re­lat­ing to both the Amer­i­cas and Europe on a pro­fes­sional level can be a dif­fi­cult bal­anc­ing act of cul­tural vari­ances. But for Ti­tus John­son, vice pres­i­dent of sales and mar­ket­ing the Amer­i­cas for air­ber­lin, it’s just an­other day at the of­fice.

Air­ber­lin, the sec­ond- largest Ger­man air­line and the only in­ter­na­tional car­rier serv­ing South­west Florida, spe­cial­izes in global busi­ness travel. John­son’s job is to pro­mote the des­ti­na­tions one can fly to, be it for cor­po­rate func­tions or sim­ply for plea­sure.

While the air­ber­lin crew is in town cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of ser­vice with South­west Florida In­ter­na­tional Air­port ( RSW), I have the op­por­tu­nity to speak with John­son him­self. We meet in a quiet cor­ner of the lobby at Sun­dial Beach Resort & Spa on Sani­bel Is­land to escape a windy day near the wa­ter. I con­grat­u­late him on the com­pany’s an­niver­sary, and he humbly shoots back with a com­pli­ment on how sup­port­ive RSW has been.

The Lon­don na­tive is de­light­ful upon first im­pres­sion, and his per­son­al­ity seems as well- rounded as his sales and mar­ket­ing strate­gies— he’s charm­ing yet re­lat­able; con­fi­dent yet mod­est. His abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple, which is ab­so­lutely vi­tal for an ex­ec­u­tive of his cal­iber, is ev­i­dent in his be­hav­ior.

John­son ad­mits to be­ing a life­long lover of travel and be­lieves it to be the best ed­u­ca­tion one can have. In his eyes, transcon­ti­nen­tal ex­pe­ri­ences can ben­e­fit any­one, and he’s happy to help in­di­vid­u­als fly to de­sired lo­ca­tions.

“I’m lucky enough in my job to of­fer peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to travel,” John­son says. “It of­fers them the abil­ity to meet and

un­der­stand dif­fer­ent peo­ple in dif­fer­ent cul­tures, and that in it­self is a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. You get to un­der­stand other ways of busi­ness— global ways of busi­ness— and re­gional vari­a­tion.”

Air­ber­lin takes off three days a week from RSW and lands at Düs­sel­dorf Air­port ( DUS) in Ger­many, but pas­sen­gers’ ad­ven­tures needn’t end there.

“We link South­west Florida to the world,” John­son says. “From Düs­sel­dorf, one can fly seam­lessly with very short con­nec­tion times to 15 Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions with air­ber­lin.”

On the other side of the spec­trum, John­son says air­ber­lin’s five U. S. gate­ways— Chicago, Fort My­ers, Los An­ge­les, Mi­ami and New York— are in­ter­na­tion­ally en­dorsed.

“We pro­mote South­west Florida very heav­ily, not just in Ger­many, but in all cities that con­nect through Düs­sel­dorf to South­west Florida,” he says, adding that the area can ex­pect an es­ti­mated $ 250,000 rev­enue boost with ev­ery smooth land­ing to RSW.

“Air­ber­lin has been the big­gest in­ter­na­tional con­trib­u­tor to South­west Florida’s econ­omy,” John­son con­tin­ues. “We have re­ally put [ the re­gion] on the map.”

John­son strate­gi­cally uses the word “we” through­out his sen­tences when speak­ing of mar­ket­ing en­deav­ors, but air­ber­lin com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Madeleine Vo­gel­sang in­sists it’s John­son’s tech­nique and gen­uine ef­forts that con­trib­ute to the car­rier’s suc­cess.

“Ti­tus brings a very fresh ap­proach to air­ber­lin and the Amer­i­cas,” Vo­gel­sang says. “There’s a cul­tural dif­fer­ence between the way Amer­i­cans and Euro­peans view tourism and des­ti­na­tions … and he’s been able to give us some new mo­ti­va­tion and de­fine our goals.”

She adds, “He’s a great team player. He lis­tens, and that’s always such a dif­fi­cult virtue to take on.”

John­son’s grounded at­ti­tude likely stems from his mod­est be­gin­nings in the air­line busi­ness. He ob­tained his mas­ter’s in air trans­port man­age­ment from the City Univer­sity in Lon­don and worked in the ticket of­fice at Aus­tralian Air­lines. From there, he joined Lon­don City Air­port, pro­mot­ing it to both pas­sen­gers and air­lines. In 1995, he landed at An­twerp- based VLM Air­lines.

I’M LUCKY ENOUGH IN MY JOB TO OF­FER PEO­PLE THE OP­POR­TU­NITY TO TRAVEL. IT OF­FERS THEM THE ABIL­ITY TO MEET AND UN­DER­STAND DIF­FER­ENT PEO­PLE IN DIF­FER­ENT CUL­TURES, AND THAT IN IT­SELF IS A GREAT LEARN­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE.” — TI­TUS JOHN­SON, VICE PRES­I­DENT OF SALES AND MAR­KET­ING THE AMER­I­CAS FOR AIR­BER­LIN

“It was the clas­sic case of a small air­line get­ting big­ger,” John­son re­calls. Com­pa­ra­ble to a small fish aim­ing to make a splash in a large pond, he had to prove he was savvy enough to ex­pand the car­rier. In a defin­ing mo­ment of suc­cess, he helped VLM Air­lines be­come the largest op­er­a­tor at Lon­don City Air­port.

An­other ma­jor thing hap­pened around that time. On Septem­ber 11, 2001, John­son watched the news on tele­vi­sion as the World Trade Cen­ter crum­bled be­fore his eyes.

In this time of world­wide de­spair, John­son says the at­tacks res­onated with count­less air­line pro­fes­sion­als. “It was a re­ally shock­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for us, one which I’ll never for­get. We felt it per­son­ally as well,” he says.

Lon­don City Air­port ex­pe­ri­enced a manda­tory shut­down, so in just 24 hours, John­son moved the en­tire VLM Air­lines

op­er­a­tion 40 miles away to Lon­don Southend Air­port. “We were the only air­line to man­age that,” he re­calls.

A few years later, John­son be­came the U. K. and Ire­land coun­try man­ager for air­ber­lin. In 2012, he was pro­moted to his cur­rent po­si­tion in New York City. John­son quickly fell for the cul­tural melt­ing pot and its high- en­ergy en­vi­ron­ment, and to this day he shares grat­i­tude for the pro­fes­sion­als who helped re­store the city af­ter its fate­ful mo­ment in his­tory.

“Ev­ery day when I see the New York fire and po­lice depart­ment, I never for­get 9/ 11,” he says, solemnly. “My­self and so many peo­ple in Europe have tremen­dous re­spect for them.”

In his down­time, John­son en­joys stay­ing ac­tive with a va­ri­ety of sports, but there will always be a place in his heart for trav­el­ing and help­ing like­minded in­di­vid­u­als in South­west Florida and be­yond to do the same.

WE LINK SOUTH­WEST FLORIDA TO THE WORLD. FROM DÜS­SEL­DORF, ONE CAN FLY SEAM­LESSLY WITH VERY SHORT CON­NEC­TION TIMES TO 15 EURO­PEAN DES­TI­NA­TIONS WITH AIR­BER­LIN.”

— TI­TUS JOHN­SON, VICE PRES­I­DENT OF SALES AND MAR­KET­ING THE AMER­I­CAS FOR AIR­BER­LIN

Ti­tus John­son

Go­ing up! Air­ber­lin re­cently cel­e­brated 20 years of ser­vice with South­west Florida In­ter­na­tional Air­port, al­low­ing for abun­dant ex­pe­ri­ences over­seas.

Air­ber­lin’s new busi­ness class has a one- two- one car­riage seat­ing ar­range­ment, with fully re­clin­ing chairs ( top). With non­stop flights to Ger­many, air­ber­lin al­lows RSW cus­tomers to fly out into the sun­set and wake up in a new world ( bot­tom).

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