TORONTO — A tell-tale sign of prosperity for any company, in any industry, is a sizeable staff. So for CAA Travel, its upcoming hiring blitz is proof that the company – and the travel industry at large – has finally turned a corner on the long road back to post-pandemic recovery.
Next month’s hiring blitz, which is specific to CAA South Central Ontario, CAA’s largest of eight independent clubs with over 2.2 million members, comes perfectly timed with the ramp up of international travel following the easing of Canada’s travel rules earlier this year and the reopening of borders around the world. And though bookings for CAA have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, the hiring of 20 new call centre travel consultants indicates that business is back on the upswing.
“We have seen a significant increase in bookings year to date, with trips booked with CAA Travel increasing by 475% between Jan. 1 and May 24, 2022, compared to the same period in 2021,” says Catherine Sieniewicz, AVP Travel and Retail, CAA South Central Ontario (SCO). “Over the last eight months, CAA has experienced a significant increase in Canadians seeking the help of our travel consultants and we expect this service will remain in high demand.”
This is obviously welcome news to CAA SCO, which comprises 33 storefronts from Kingston to Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie, employing some 90 travel consultants plus an additional 20 in the call centre. Like many organizations at the start of the pandemic, CAA Travel was forced to adapt to new challenges, says Sieniewicz, making the well-being of its associates, members and customers priority number one.
“When the pandemic hit, CAA pivoted quickly and provided travel consultants with the opportunity to be retrained and licenced to work in our home and auto insurance business, if that was of interest to them,” she adds. “Some took on the opportunity to be retrained and start something new, and many stayed in travel to support members and customers. And for those who decided to stay within travel, CAA proudly continued to pay commissions for travel consultants throughout the pandemic to make sure they were financially taken care of during a difficult time.”
The company’s investment into its agents paid off. When the first signs of recovery appeared in fall 2021, followed by a significant increase in travel bookings and enquiries in March 2022 as a result of Canada’s relaxed travel restrictions and lowered Level 3 travel advisory, CAA SCO’s agents were ready to handle the upswing. Today, CAA SCO’s Call Centre is fielding an average of 500-600 calls per day.
“While many Canadians are choosing to stay close to home, CAA continues to see increased sales of travel and travel insurance, and an incredible increase in Canadians eager to start travelling again,” says Sieniewicz, adding that some of the destinations of interest include USA, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. “Like many Canadians, CAA is looking forward to the future of travel. We are optimistic that travel will rebound in 2022 and into 2023.
Next month’s hiring blitz, which will see candidates “gain access to extensive paid learning and development opportunities including technical training and the opportunity to get licenced, provided by CAA,” says Sieniewicz, comes on the heels of the launch of CAA Travel’s new Premier Collection, part of CAA’s Extraordinary Explorations collection of unique travel adventures for sophisticated travellers. Featuring the very best of Canada, from the Rocky Mountains to Quebec and the Maritimes, Premier Collection tours allow Canadians to explore their own backyard in luxury and style, with a flight on CAA’s exclusive new private charter-jet service – offered in partnership with Air Canada – also included. Charter-jet service features such upscale amenities as VIP priority airport check in, access to the Maple Leaf Lounge, superior business class-style cabin and services, gourmet in-flight meal with drink service, spacious leather seats, and CAA Premier Tour group exclusivity on flights.
“We are always looking at new ways to engage travellers, and we are always looking to hire the very best in the travel industry,” says Sieniewicz. “Whether it’s making sure we are promptly there to rescue members from the side of the road, helping customers save on insurance coverage that meets their lifestyle needs, or simply providing more value to their membership through rewards and member benefits, CAA continues to find ways to be there for our customers and members.”
To read the June 2 edition of Travelweek, click here.