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Denise Heffron, Managing Director, Canada for Uplift

“Book now and pay over time”: How Uplift will change the travel game in Canada

“Book now and pay over time”: How Uplift will change the travel game in Canada

Denise Heffron, Managing Director, Canada for Uplift

Uplift, a fintech company that offers alternate payment solutions for travel, has hit the ground running in Canada now that Denise Heffron is at the helm. The travel industry veteran, who was recently appointed Managing Director earlier this year, has been tasked with launching and leading the startup in the Canadian market, and early signs show plenty of promise. In this week’s edition of Take Five, we ask Heffron about how Uplift works and why it’s so beneficial to both travellers and travel agents.

1. For any agents who haven’t heard of Uplift, or aren’t sure what it’s all about, can you give us a quick outline, e.g. ‘the elevator pitch’?

“Uplift’s mission is to make travel more accessible, rewarding and affordable for Canadian travellers. It’s quite simply a payment option that allows consumers to book now and pay over time. Through the utilization of Uplift, clients are able to budget better and travel worry-free. We’re helping Canadians realize that their long-awaited trip to visit family or their dream vacation is possible. We allow them to tangibly see an opportunity to travel to any destination, or perhaps take advantage of some extras such as an upgraded room, or a premium seat; options that they previously might not have thought possible. We do the math, we calculate the prices, and we present it to consumers in a simple to understand monthly payment plan.”

2. How long has the company been operating in the U.S. and who are some of your major clients there?

“Uplift was founded by a team of passionate travel industry veterans led by CEO Brian Barth in 2014 and launched its services in the U.S. in 2017. Prior to Uplift, Barth co-founded Sidestep in 1999, the first travel metasearch engine that was later acquired by Kayak.

“American Airlines Vacations, Spirit Airlines, Norwegian Cruise Line, Universal Studios and Southwest Vacations are just a handful of some of our major U.S. travel partners.”

3. What’s been the feedback in the Canadian market so far, who have you signed and are there more announcements about new partnerships coming in the near future?

“Uplift has received incredible feedback in Canada so far. We are live on tripcentral.ca, and are available to the retail community through Travelbrands TravelGenie. As well, consumers can utilize Uplift through TPI (Travel Professionals International) and Travel Only travel advisors. We will also be live with redtag.ca and itravel2000 by the end of the month. We have a number of very exciting announcements coming in the near future – stay tuned.

“Overall the industry has been extremely supportive. I believe there are a few reasons for this. First, we have a proven and successful product that is already supporting some of the most respected travel brands in the world. Second, we offer online and offline solutions, this is very important for the Canadian market. Above all though, our team has deep travel expertise ⎼ we understand travel technology but we also understand travel agents. We only work in conjunction and in support of travel partners, this really sets us apart.”

4. How should agents be pitching Uplift to their clients – what are the key advantages to this payment plan approach?

“Travel is special and budgeting for it isn’t always easy. By providing an alternate, flexible payment solution, Uplift gives consumers the opportunity to book now and travel worry-free. The application itself is quick and easy, there are no late fees or early payment penalties. By breaking up the cost of a trip into affordable monthly payments, dream vacations no longer have to wait.”

5. How can agents integrate Uplift into their payment options when they’re closing a sale?

“Uplift can work with any type of travel partner: airline, tour op, cruise line and of course, travel retailers and we can do this in two ways. For the web, we integrate a monthly payment option seamlessly into our partners’ booking flow. We also offer a custom-tailored tool for travel agents and call agents allowing for offline bookings. Behind all of this, is a lot of support for our partners. We provide on-boarding, training, selling tips, support material and so on to our partners so that we can succeed together.”

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