One of the best-known brand names in the Canadian travel industry is itravel2000. For this edition of Friday 5, CEO Dean Moore talks travel trends, supplier shake-ups and why he’s still getting used to seeing his own smiling face in itravel2000’s ads.
1. Are Canadians travelling as much as ever, and where are they going, and for how long?
Moore: The leisure travel segment in Canada continues to show healthy growth, and with pricing often lower than previous years people are taking the opportunity to travel more. People are still taking their regular annual vacations, but more and more we are now also seeing people adding to that with more mini-break stays of, for example, four or five days in the Bahamas or Las Vegas, and then a city break either domestically to, say, Montreal, or transborder to New York City.
2. What is your strategy for itravel2000 going forward?
Moore: Our strategy centres on three fundamental pillars. First, we want to help our clients make the most informed travel choices. Travel is often the largest element of a household’s discretionary spend, so we want to do everything possible to make sure our clients make the right choices for their individual wants and needs, and in turn, enjoy their holidays to the absolute fullest.
To do that, here at itravel2000 we rely on the knowledge and expertise of our in-house Travel Experts, and support them with a number of recently launched initiatives – specifically the President’s Pick blog, in which I share my own personal experiences and opinions on resorts and destinations, and our new partnership with Social Common, a Canadian moms’ group that will provide us with dedicated content designed to help families with the planning and preparation stages of their trips.
Further initiatives are planned for the summer and fall, all of which build on our brand promise: ‘Your Trusted Source for Travel!’
Second, we provide great choice and value. We are keen to continue to build the widest possible travel offering at the best possible prices, and a clear indication of this is our recent partnership with FlightNetwork. Along with offering industry-leading pricing, through FlightNetwork we are able to provide consumers with access to carriers not available through anyone else in Canada. This includes the many low-cost airlines that operate in Europe, such as easyJet and Ryanair.
Third, we play an active part in the communities we serve and in destinations we send our clients to. Here at home, itravel2000 is a proud supporter of the Hospital for Sick Children and are committed to supporting the ‘Possibilities Fund’, with the monies raised providing the hospital with the flexibility required to respond quickly and strategically to the most urgent needs as they arise.
So far we have helped raise more than $62,000 and we have more fundraising activities planned, including the Heatwave Volleyball tournament in July and The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk to benefit SickKids in September. For that I will be attempting my first 15k run!
In destination, we are seeking out various opportunities through our tourist board and resort partners to support programs that focus on kids and specifically their well-being. This could encompass health, education, environment and so on, with a goal of not only helping out those local communities but to also give our team here the opportunity to give back in a very real way.
3. As exciting as it is to take the company in new directions, can you talk a bit about building on the company’s strengths from years past?
Moore: Our strategy is designed to build on our core assets:
Our Brand – itravel2000 is one of the most instantly recognizable brands in the country. Whenever I meet people and tell them where I work they almost always burst into song and recite the itravel2000 jingle!
Our People – We have a very talented and experienced team of people across the organization and, most importantly for the travelling public, employ some of the most experienced travel experts in Canada.
Our Technology – We continue to invest in our technology capabilities both for our agents and clients, and the past 12 months have seen the launch of mobile responsive booking paths and a redesign of many aspects of our site. This is an ongoing process and there is more to come in the coming weeks and months, including the launch of a new cruise path and a dedicated Petro Canada travel website, through which we have also taken the opportunity to significantly enhance various aspect of the shopping experience and many of the features will roll into the itravel site later in the summer.
4. We’ve seen some major shifts in the tour operator landscape, with the departure of CanJet Vacations and the restructuring of TravelBrands. What’s your take on the industry right now and how do you see pricing and capacity shaping up for winter 2015/16?
Moore: It was a shame to see CanJet Vacations exit the market after such a short time – they were great partners for itravel2000 – but the vacation package space is already crowded, on top of being one of the most competitive markets I have seen or experienced across most of Europe and North America.
As for TravelBrands, I expect that business to emerge from their current restructuring process and continue to provide great service from their portfolio of brands. I have many friends there from my time as CEO of Thomas Cook North America so I wish to see them do well.
5. How does it feel to see your own face looking out at you from itravel2000’s ads?
Moore: It doesn’t feel nice at all! I think I am one of the least photogenic people on earth so this sort of thing doesn’t sit comfortably with me. However, I think it is important that people can relate to a business and showing who we are is a key part of that. I want our clients to know that we are not just another faceless organization!