A transitional year: TTC Tour Brands on major changes and new offerings
Melissa DaSilva TTC Tour Brands President, North America

A transitional year: TTC Tour Brands on major changes and new offerings

TTC Tour Brands has had a very big year indeed, from a complete global reorganization to new itineraries and travel agent resources. In this week’s Take 5, we sit down with Melissa DaSilva, President of TTC Tour Brands, North America, to discuss what the company is most excited about and how travel agents can better sell the brand.

A transitional year: TTC Tour Brands on major changes and new offerings

MTM Italy Atelier Giuditta Brozzetti with Marta Cuccia

1.. How have travel advisors responded to TTC Tour Brands following the global reorganization last year, and how important is the Canadian market?

A transitional year: TTC Tour Brands on major changes and new offerings

Melissa DaSilva President, North America TTC Tour Brands

“We recently celebrated our first anniversary as TTC Tour Brands and the response following our transitional year has been amazing. Without a doubt, travel advisors are our most important distribution channel, representing approximately 80-85% of our total distribution. In fact, the new TTC Tour Brands structure – as a singular sales, marketing and operations division serving our six individual tour brands versus multiple teams across the various brands – was established in large part to be a “one-stop” shop for travel advisors selling our tours. And they’ve been very receptive to the changes we’ve implemented, everything from having one united sales team and one expanded contact centre across all brands to our new Travel Advisor Portal, giving them so many online tools and resources to have at their disposal 24/7.       

“The Canadian market is incredibly important to TTC Tour Brands. Our Toronto office remains a vital part of our operations, with a staff of over 200. We expanded our Canadian sales team last fall with the addition of two new sales managers for Ontario. The business out of Canada has been coming back very strong and 2023 is on track to exceed 2019 numbers. We’re seeing that our Canadian guests are travelling longer and spending more money, so that’s a win-win for TTC Tour Brands and Canadian advisors who book our tours.”


2. Coming out of the pandemic, one big trend we’re seeing is authentic, cultural experiences.  Can you tell us more about MAKE TRAVEL MATTER experiences available to your guests?  

“This is something I’m extremely passionate about!  MAKE TRAVEL MATTER Experiences are conscious travel experiences available on our trips that are chosen with great care, based on the positive social or environmental impact they have on their communities and those who experience them. These experiences all fall under three main categories:  Planet (sustainability and conservation) People (cultural preservation) and Wildlife (protection of our world’s wildlife). 

“Our original goal – as part of The Travel Corporation’s overall five-year sustainability strategy and blueprint – was to incorporate a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER experience on at least 50% of our tours by 2025. I am beyond thrilled that 100% of our trips, regardless of the brand, will have a minimum of one MTM experience on each and every itinerary by the end of 2023.”


3. TTC Tour Brands has a unique partnership with Switzerland Tourism. Please explain what it’s all about. 

“Yes, that’s right. TTC Tour Brands recently formed a multi-year partnership with Switzerland Tourism to offer both travel advisors and consumers a unique, conscious travel experience. ‘Swisstainable’ – the merging of two terms ‘Swiss’ and ‘Sustainable’ – signals an independent and typically Swiss sustainability strategy. It’s a commitment to sustainable travel in the long term and an entire movement within the destination’s tourist industry. 

“In July, we’re hosting a ‘Swisstainable’ global FAM trip for travel advisors to showcase offerings from Trafalgar, Costsaver, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, all of which meet the sustainable standards of Switzerland Tourism. For consumers, I’m so proud that Trafalgar became the first global tour operator to create a fully ’Swisstainable’ itinerary for travellers to experience the country’s natural and social resources in a responsible way, fully aligned with our commitment to achieve net zero. The new “Contrasts of Switzerland” tour is exclusively serviced by ‘Swisstainable’ suppliers so that means everything from accommodations, experiences, meals and even greener transportation options directly support our climate goals and a number of wonderful community-driven projects in Switzerland.”


A transitional year: TTC Tour Brands on major changes and new offerings

TTC Tour Brands Insight Vacations

4. What’s the one new offering that you’re most excited about in 2023?

“We’re getting ready to launch a wonderful new – and extremely rare – itinerary with Brendan Vacations very soon. Think legendary Irish castles, a private chauffeur, the chance to meet locals and share in some amazing experiences along the way. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks but I can tell you there is tremendous excitement around this, from both sides of the pond. Our team at Brendan Vacations worked closely with our partners on the ground in Ireland to create this new itinerary – which up until now was practically unheard of – but it’s what we do, using our Celtic experience to provide travellers with authentic travel experiences by connecting the people, the places and the culture.”


5. What are your Top 3 sales tips for Canadian travel advisors?

“First and foremost, I always encourage travel advisors to work closely with their local sales manager for TTC Tour Brands. With over 1,000 worldwide itineraries across our six brands – Luxury Gold, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar, Brendan Vacations, Costsaver and Contiki – we know that our product is complex. Plus, we operate in so many different destinations and it can be a lot of information for travel advisors to digest. Why not leverage the knowledge and expertise of our team? And of course, they should absolutely be using our TA Portal – it’s a game-changer!

“Secondly, travel advisors should always qualify their clients by asking them a lot of questions. I know this is straight out of the ‘Sales 101 textbook, but you’d be surprised how many clients simply tell their travel advisor what they think they want – and turns out, it’s not what they want at all. Always prompt clients on their answers by asking follow-up things like, ‘why did you say that’ or ‘what are your must-do’s and don’ts’. This helps to narrow things down like the best time of year to travel, what destination and what product to offer potential clients. 

“And finally, this one probably comes as no great surprise, but my last pro-tip is to book early and not to wait. Book your clients early, lock-in their airfare early and guarantee a spot for them on the particular itinerary they want, avoiding the disappointment of it being booked solid and sold-out.”

For more information go to https://ttc.com/.

A transitional year: TTC Tour Brands on major changes and new offerings

Zermatt, Switzerland

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