Best summer yet: TravelOnly seeing significant sales and growth
Ian Elliott

Best summer yet: TravelOnly seeing significant sales and growth

What’s selling now that travel is rebounding and restrictions have lifted? Everything, says TravelOnly. In this week’s Take 5, we sit down with Ian Elliott, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, to discuss travel trends in a post-pandemic world and how the company continues to support its home-based travel advisors, especially now with travel’s big return.

  1. Can you tell us how membership is trending in 2022?

We currently have over 700 travel advisors across Canada. We grew our membership over the past two years, despite the pandemic! There really is no better time to be working in the travel industry and the desire to work from home with minimal overhead is very appealing to Canadians. We expect to have significant growth over the next 12 months.


  1. How did TravelOnly support its agents throughout the pandemic? And which tools will help carry them forward now that international travel is rebounding?

During the height of the pandemic we leveraged our technology and resources to best support our advisors and help them stay on top of all the COVID protocols and updates. We started using Workplace by Facebook about a year before the pandemic and it had already become the primary of information for our entire network. We posted daily (sometimes hourly!) updates from all the supplier partners and government sites so that our advisors could easily find the information they were looking for without having to comb through hundreds of emails. It was also a great community for our team to communicate, problem solve, vent and work together.

As the world started to recover, we developed new marketing programs and social media packages, which are now delivered to our advisors on a weekly basis to help them stay front and centre with their clients. Earlier on in the pandemic these social media posts were less about selling and more about reminding clients that their travel advisor was still there and ready for them when the time was right. By having a consistent social media presence, our advisors were top of mind for their clients when the world re-opened to travel.

TravelOnly also took the opportunity during the pandemic to invest in new technology and systems for our advisors, including B2C websites and a brand new, internal invoicing systems and CRM. There is never a “good” time to do a system overhaul but we knew that it needed to be done prior to the travel boom. It was the best decision we could have ever made and now TravelOnly has a very robust, well supported platform that is providing our advisors with enhanced functionality and improving their efficiency with every booking.


  1. How are summer bookings? And do you anticipate the remainder of 2022 ending on a high note?

TravelOnly is having one of our best summer booking seasons in company history and we are on track to surpass our pre-pandemic 2019 sales!


  1. What’s selling right now? Which destinations would you recommend?

Almost everything is selling right now – Canadian’s just want to get out and travel. Initially, Europe was hot but the war in the Ukraine, coupled with airline customer service issues, has put the focus more on the south with ocean cruising and all-inclusive vacations. Our groups business is also breaking sales records – destination weddings and multi-generational family vacations are at the top of the list for many consumers.

Personally, as a travel advisor and avid traveller, I think there is tremendous value in cruising (ocean and river). You can see multiple destinations within a seven-day trip all from the comfort of your floating 5 star accommodations. What I really like about cruising during and post pandemic is their exceptional attention to health and safety, testing and vaccinations. Their cancellation policies are very flexible and the all-inclusive nature of most of the brands is hard to beat.

In terms of destinations we are still finding great rates for Europe (Italy and Spain) this summer and if clients are looking to get away in the next few months that’s where I would send them!


  1. What other travel trends are you seeing post-pandemic, and how is TravelOnly meeting these trends?

The two major “benefits” our industry now enjoys, post-pandemic, is an increased understanding of the value of a travel advisor and travel insurance. Now that our consumers better understand why they should use a travel advisor, our advisors are more comfortable charging service fees. After all, they are professionals and they should be charging a professional fee! We have seen more professional fees invoiced in the last six months than in the last few years combined. We have leveraged the expertise of our training team and our senior advisors to mentor our TravelOnly team on how to communicate the value of a travel professional and service fees. It’s definitely working!

TravelOnly always had strong travel insurance sales but the pandemic reinforced the importance and value of insurance training. We have had our BDMs from Manulife providing online webinars monthly with specific training modules to help our advisors sell travel insurance and we are seeing the results. We are outperforming our previous months sales month over month!

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