Anderson Vacations hosts top agents at official launch for new Downunder Planner

Anderson Vacations hosts top agents at official launch for new Downunder PlannerAnderson Vacations’ CEO Corey Marshall (left) and Business Development Manager Gavin Antill hosted top travel agents and industry partners at a recent event in Mississauga to launch the company’s new 2014 Downunder Destination Planner.

TORONTO — Anderson Vacations debuted its brand new 2014 Downunder Destination Planner at a recent event in Mississauga, giving a select group of top travel agents and industry partners an advance look at the 164-page brochure.

Nine months in the making, the Planner is what CEO Corey Marshall calls a response to “consumers looking to travel differently.” It highlights the company’s destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands with itineraries ranging from fully escorted tours and city stay packages to rail journeys and new niche specialty products.

Marshall also noted special Anderson Exclusive product (identified by an AE symbol), which includes five new itineraries through Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Fiji with air-inclusive departures out of Los Angeles.

“We recommend talking to your clients about touring first, then figure out hotels and other components. This is why we’ve put touring front and centre in the Planner,” he said.

Business Development Manager Gavin Antill emphasized the importance of groups and how booking groups translates into big business for agents. Custom groups required a fully refundable deposit of $500. South Pacific airlines’ minimum number for group fares is 10.

“Groups is a great way to make money, we’re very good at customizing everything, even down to picking a specific restaurant,” he said. “We’re a family-run business so we’re not by the book.”

Also on trend is cruising in New Zealand with top cruise lines like Princess. According to Marshall, many travellers will book a cruise in New Zealand then add a land tour in Australia immediately after. “It’s a good tip for agents: package a cruise component then loop in some Australia land product,” he added.

Australia is big business for agents, considering the number of Canadians who make the journey each year. Kevin Smith of Tourism Australia, who was also in attendance, reported a total of 120,000 outbound passengers from Canada.

“The market is looking very good with plenty of growth coming,” he said. “While the U.S. is starting to bounce back after the recession, Canada has always seen a slow, steady increase. This is, of course, due to the support of agents.”

Despite Australia’s popularity, it does not come without a few challenges when selling to clients. Smith identified distance and cost as being the two main challenges agents face. In the end, he hopes agents are able to relay the simple message that “it’s worth it”.

“Australia has always been a bucket-list destination. It should be a long way to go because it’s the one trip people have been waiting for,” he added.

To help agents sell Australia more effectively, Tourism Australia offers the Aussie Specialist program, a free online training tool that has already assisted thousands of agents. Comprised of four core modules and one final quiz, the program is designed to help agents increase the number and value of their Australia bookings and earn higher commissions. Upon completion, they’ll have access to additional training modules, marketing tools and resources, a helpline and e-mail support, monthly e-newsletters and Travel Club Membership. To sign up, go to aussiespecialist.com.

For more information on Anderson Vacations or to request a Downunder Destination Planner, call 1-866-814-7378 or visit downundersolution.com.