Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — It’s all about experiential travel these days. And Merit Travel wants to give clients an experience as soon as they walk in the door of its brand new flagship retail space.
The sprawling 2,500-square-foot store is right in the heart of downtown Toronto’s Entertainment District and offers would-be travellers plenty of space to talk to Merit agents about their travel dreams, with cozy meeting pod zones.
There’s also a dedicated space complete with couches and screens for supplier presentations. H.I.S. Merit Travel Inc.’s CEO Phil Sproul says suppliers can use the space for in-house presentations, to showcase their product to clients and Merit’s agents.
Merit Travel facilitates 300,000+ bookings annually, says Sproul. Moving out of their King St. West location, Sproul says they wanted the new flagship on Peter St. to be “immersive and interactive”.
For the Merit Travel advisors working at the Peter St. store, there are large work spaces, a large staff eat-in kitchen and a classroom-layout training room.
Agent shortage? Not for Merit. “In this industry it can be hard to find people but we have a lot of tenured employees on staff,” says Sproul.
He adds: “Our vision was to design and build a space where our travel professionals can truly inspire their clients. It’s a warm and welcoming space as well for our preferred suppliers and industry partners to hold events, travel talks, training sessions … the options are boundless.”
Merit Travel Group encompasses retailers Merit Travel, MeritBiz and Cruise Experts Travel, Merit Loyalty, and wholesaler Exclusive Tours.
Merit began operations in 1991 and grew to become one of the largest independent travel companies in Canada. Merit joined H.I.S. Co. Ltd. in 2016 and the size and scope of the operation “gives us a lot of leverage,” adds Sproul.