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There’s more to Steve Lassman, v.p. of villa product and agency relations for World Travel Holding’s Villas of Distinction, than meets the eye, so we decided to ask him those comical, personal and telling questions to reveal the man behind the suit. Steve recalls his first airplane ride at the age of seven as his first travel experience, yet it was a job with Cunard Cruise Line that inspired him to join the travel industry with the hopes of helping people make travel memories of their own. But who does Steve like to make his travel memories with? We’ll let him explain in the Coffee Time With Industry Vets Q&A series.

Where did you go on your first trip and how old were you?
My first airplane ride was on an Eastern Airlines airplane, not a jet. I was 7-years-old and I specifically remember the propellers. We went to Miami Beach and stayed at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

What is your most vivid travel memory?
There are two that have stayed with me—one was visiting Ephesus, Turkey and the other was the Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Steve spending time with friends during one of his trips.
Steve spending time with friends during one of his trips.

What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry?
My very first job in the travel industry was with Cunard Cruise Line and the stories customers would share about their experience on the QE2 and how these experiences changed their lives—I knew from that moment forward I wanted to help people have these vacation memories that last a lifetime.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Hawaii. We went to the Big Island for two nights, then Maui for five nights and Honolulu for five nights. We saw Don Ho sing Tiny Bubbles.

Steve and his wife enjoying a trip together.
Steve and his wife enjoying a trip together.

What was your favorite trip you took last year and why?
Positano, Italy because of the food, the views, the wine and the overall charm of the Amalfi Coast.

Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit?
An African safari is #1 on my bucket list.

Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?
No, it’s about the experience for me at the time, unless there is a local artist painting, then I will buy his painting!

You can tell us—do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?

What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?
If it’s a business trip, I will usually do work and Sudoku always with music. If I am traveling for leisure—music, Sudoku, movies and reading, and depending on the time, sleep.

Steve and his wife.
Steve and his wife.

Who is your favorite travel companion?
I’ve been married 33 years, better say my wife!

If there were one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?
Well since I sell villa vacations I will change this to a villa. I would want to stay at Villa Giulia in Positano for the view more than the room, but the room is not too shabby either!

What is the best food you’ve had on a trip?
Very tough call.

The strangest?
That’s easy a dish in Bangkok, the bird’s nest soup.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?

Ringo Starr at the Monte Carlo Casino, he sat next to me. Eric Clapton in line for a Pan Am flight, was right behind me. It’s a close choice between Ringo and Eric so I have to say both, and I had nice conversations with both, too.

Tropical beach or Snowy Mountain?
Tropical beach every time!

City or countryside?
Depends on the location. For example, between Tuscany or Rome, the Tuscan Hillside wins.