BRIDGETOWN — Canadian travellers are demanding more diversity and greater options and Caribbean destinations must offer a diverse product if they are to remain attractive to the Canadian market, says Air Canada Leisure Group President Craig Landry.
Landry will deliver the feature address on Sept. 16 at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) taking place in Barbados.
In an interview ahead of the event, Landry spoke of evolving consumer preferences, from accommodation to activities.
“From the perspective of the consumer it’s all about choice, so choice means we need diversity in the type of products we can offer,” he said.
“What we’re seeing is that with different types of markets, whether it’s from family size or whether it’s adults and couples, their needs are different in terms of the types of amenities and the types of services that respond to them and so we need to make sure we have segmentation and the ability to be able to address that.
“We’re also seeing changes in people who are booking not necessarily all-inclusive. So that can be villas or people who might want to do some of their own cooking or some of their own travel experiences and excursions when they’re there; they’re looking for a different type of living aboard type of approach when they stay in a destination and we need product to accommodate that and we need to make sure we have enough breadth and depth of our product and diversity in the type of things we can offer to satisfy different segments of travel.”
At least three-quarters of the company’s business comes from the sun market, said Landry. “It’s very significant … the Caribbean market is the anchor of the entire Air Canada Vacations business model; it is extremely important to us.
“We’ve grown over 20% in these markets and the Caribbean over the last five years, and if you look at Canadian travel into the Caribbean the overall market is much less than that, it’s actually in the low single digits. So through Air Canada Vacations and Air Canada Rouge it is probably disproportionately investing in the market because we believe in it.”
The company is weathering the low Canadian dollar, Landry added.
“We’re been fortunate so far to see that travel volume has not been negatively impacted, in the case of travel to the Caribbean that is, we’ve seen that travel has remained quite robust, but it is certainly a concern for us when you look at some of the macro-economic indicators and we need not take it for granted and be sure we work very hard to make sure that we continue to stimulate that traffic.”
And while the tour operator’s call centre is handling more than a few Zika-related inquiries, Zika hasn’t had too much of an impact on the bottom line.
“We hear a lot about Zika, that’s for sure. We hear it in our call centre, our customers are asking about it, we have policies in place that allow people to make cancellations if necessary or make changes but generally speaking, we have not yet seen a meaningful impact on our business; but it is something we keep a very close eye on because our customers are still talking about it a lot.”