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WOODBRIDGE — There was no mistaking who the VIPs were at TravelBrand’s Agent Appreciation Event in Woodbridge, Ont. last night: the travel agents who President and CEO Frank DeMarinis referred to as the key to the company’s success.
For three years running, TravelBrands has hosted these celebratory events across the country to show its appreciation for its retail agent partners. At last night’s Woodbridge stop, approximately 650 agents were in attendance, with 2,500 attending in total across all featured cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Woodbridge, Calgary and Vancouver).
When asked how the annual event has grown over the years, DeMarinis tells Travelweek that the company has placed an even bigger focus on travel agents, “if that’s at all possible!” He adds that TravelBrands continues to put a strong emphasis on its technology “so that we can provide agents with top notch tools and services when it comes to bookings.”
The company, which is coming off a stellar winter season, has updated “many aspects of our organization”, says DeMarinis, “to support our goals of helping agents work smarter, not harder.” Coupled with the tireless efforts of its agent partners, he says the diversity in the company’s brands and product offerings is what gives TravelBrands a defining edge.
“Our Sun business has done exceptionally well from both an FIT and package business perspective. But our growth stems from numerous product streams such as cruises, Europe and the USA. They all sustain and contribute to our continuous expansion,” he says.
While on the cross-country roadshow, the company showcased many new updates and changes to the organization, including Intair, Exotik Journeys, Sunquest, Experiences by TravelBrands, Lujure, Access and Cruise. To reflect TravelBrands’ strategy, the updated Exotik Journeys brand offers the same product lines with a stronger market presence.
“Let me explain. In Quebec, we are branding the Specialty division Exotik Tours. In the rest of Canada, we are branding it under Exotic Journeys. Both Exotic Tours and Exotik Journeys offer the same product lines, including Exotik and Boomerang Tours,” says DeMarinis, adding that the two brands are “one and the same”.
To celebrate this updated branding, agents can receive 15% commission on all products booked from April 1-30 for travel at any time.
Other highlights at last night’s event was the newly released Experiences by TravelBrands brochure, which features 10 specialized collections, three of which were unveiled this year (Culinary, Health & Wellness, and Lujure Villas). Plus, agents gained more insight into the company’s redesigned Access platform, which DeMarinis says has a “better flow, new look and feel, and is easy to navigate”. With the updated platform, agents now have the option to search by landmark or hotel, and can also preview sales emails with the option of sending up to six hotels and activities directly to clients.
Travelweek also asked DeMarinis about Sunquest’s dynamic packaging, which allows agents to choose from three airlines as well as the duration of stay they want, whether it’s three, five, seven or more days. As the only tour operator to offer this extensive product line, Sunquest is appealing directly to agents with such increased flexibility.
“TravelGenie packages offer agents the opportunity to sell a customized package to all destinations in the world, with any airline that flies to that destination (we have over 80 airline partners) and whatever duration of stay. Our buying power allows us to offer your favourite carrier, at the best rates,” says DeMarinis. “Plus, we have over 300,000 properties in our portfolio, from traditional chains to high-end properties, boutique hotels and everything in between.
This dynamic packaging, adds DeMarinis, has been a hit among agents who love its ease of booking, its flexibility and the commissions they’re making off it. And considering the fact that agents represent a significant majority of TravelBrands’ business, keeping them happy is essential.
“Travel agents are the key to our success,” he says. “Without them, there is no TravelBrands.”
The remaining Agent Appreciation Events will take place in Calgary on April 16 and Vancouver on April 17. For more information go to travelbrandsaccess.com.