Most agents know Sunspots as a consolidator but the company offers so much more than just airfares, says company director Christy Kurian in this edition of Friday 5.
- Can you give us an idea of the company’s scope of product and services in terms of hotels, attraction tickets, that sort of thing?
“We like to do it all and we do it all. It’s true that our main area is airfares but we work with just about any request we get for any particular service.
“Obviously we are very into accommodations as well, whether for FITs or group reservations, but we also book tours, car rentals, transfer services, cruises, attraction and theme park tickets, show tickets, train tickets, etc. We offer these services for individual and group bookings alike and we do like to be accommodating towards our agents so we try to find a way to book any new product they need. We work with itineraries for any part of the world so our scope for our services is pretty big.”
- With consolidator fares a core product for Sunspots, how many airlines do you work with now and why should agents bring their air bookings to Sunspots?
“Over 80 airlines with contracts to Canada/USA, Caribbean, Mexico Latin America and Europe. Especially with American, Air Canada (all Star Alliance partners) Delta, WestJet, Air Transat, Avianca, LATAM and many more. What we offer – other than all of these airlines and special contracts – is our high level of service. Consolidators are numerous and you can find different rates and prices for a few dollars difference most of the time but we like to pride ourselves on great service and our agent friends can vouch for that. This is why agents should come to us. We do price match fares too, but we can assure them no one is able to match our service standards.”
- How has Sunspots grown in the Canadian market over the past few years?
“From the level of regular consolidator we moved into custom-trip designs and complex itineraries. We even offer help to manage big group events as well to support the events in every aspect. From airline tickets to packages to event management support to private charter quotes we show a great growth of our organization in past 15 years.”
- Sunspots is a firm believer in spiritual and purpose-based travel. What can you tell us about this product niche, for any agents with clients looking for these sorts of fulfilling getaways?
“We have been doing this for over 15 years now so we are quite happy with this niche. The whole idea is simple: we all go on vacation, once, maybe twice a year or more if you are lucky. You relax, have a good time, come back with great memories. But when your trip has a purpose attached to it, it changes the perspective as you have now accomplished something more important, whether spiritual, emotional or a personal fulfillment of another kind. It makes it one of the most special vacations you will ever take, it sticks with you.
“For example, we offer mission trips to Haiti or Guatemala and spiritual trips to Israel with volunteer opportunities, to name just a few. We call that product Travel+Purpose = Destination.
- How important are travel agents to Sunspots’ success?
“Travel agents are huge to us and that’s why we like to think of them as friends. This is why it is important to us to provide great service and keep our standards high.
“We still believe that travel agents are the backbone of the travel business. Air travel isn’t just airline tickets from one airport to another airport; it has several other parameters involved, from transfers to check-in, to hotels to tours. Every component needs to have expert guidance and that’s where agents have a role to play. We at Sunspots like to call them either ‘Trip Designers’ or ‘Travel Mentors’. We love technology but human touch transforms everything. We trust Canadian and U.S. travel agents and their capabilities and expertise.”