WOODBRIDGE — It was a packed house for the launch of Air Canada Vacations’ 2017-2018 Sun Collection last night, with close to 1,000 agents coming out to hear about ACV’s new stand-alone Luxury brochure, the return of a popular Park ‘N Fly promotion, a booking bonus to drive sales post-Irma and ACV’s commitment to the retail trade, not to mention a live performance by JUNO winner Shawn Desman.
The Toronto launch, taking place at the stylish Paramount EventSpace in Woodbridge, was the last of ACV’s cross-Canada event schedule which kicked off in Vancouver last week and made its way to Calgary, Halifax and Montreal before arriving in the GTA last night.
Just before they cleared the stage for a concert by Vaughan’s own Shawn Desman, ACV’s George Platanitis, VP Sales & Partnerships, and Monique Lalonde, General Manager, Sales and National Accounts – Ontario, told agents just how much they mean to ACV. “We really value your partnership. We couldn’t do it without you,” said Lalonde to cheers from the audience. “You are resilient, you are resourceful and we value your support,” added Platanitis.
More cheers were heard for several of ACV’s promotions for fall and winter 2017-2018, including the return of the Park ‘N Fly incentive offering clients 8 free nights of Park ‘N Fly parking, for vacation bookings made by Oct. 31, for travel Nov. 1 through April 30.
There are also EBBs plus promotional prices for ACV’s CareFree and StormGuard Coverage.
Plus, ACV is offering 15% commission on bookings for Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts made by Oct. 1.
“We’ve brought a lot of ancillary products to the table for travel agents, to help drive the sale. And they’re commissionable,” said Nino Montegnese, ACV’s Managing Director.
Not only that, but consumer protection programs like CareFree and StormGuard “doesn’t hinder agents from selling insurance. We don’t want to get in the way of those insurance commissions,” he adds.
ACV’s winter lineup, its biggest ever, has more than 700 resorts including 60+ new resorts, 19 ACV exclusives, 30 semi-exclusives and 26 with exclusive room categories, sections and/or meal plans.
The tour operator is adding capacity out of cities across Canada, including an extra 18% capacity out of Toronto and a whopping 250% out of Calgary. New destinations from Toronto include Cartagena, Belize and St. Vincent. “We’re going to offer your customers more choice, more options and more convenience,” said Platanitis.
Meanwhile ACV’s new Luxury lineup will be ready later this fall, on its own for the first time as a stand-alone brochure. The Luxury brochure will not be a mass-market piece for every client, or for every agent, says Montegnese, who introduced the Luxury line by asking agents in the crowd how many had clients who spend $5,000 per person on a vacation. “It won’t be for everyone, but it will be for some of you,” he said, adding that commissions for ACV’s Luxury product will be higher.
Also at the launch, ACV showcased its Top Picks brochure, available since May (“really a great sales tool when you’re looking for something unique with ACV”), and the new Travel Agent Handbook, outlining how to book what with the tour operator. “It tells you where you’ll find our product and what system to book it in,” says Platanitis. “Things are a little convoluted right now. This handbook will help.”
ACV’s Europe brochure will be out in early December, he added.
Platanitis heads up the tour operator’s Travel Advisory Board and ACV’s collaboration with its travel agent board members has been a huge success, he says. “You let us know what we’re doing well and what we’re doing not so well. We’re very much committed to you and the Travel Advisory Board will continue.”
Not surprisingly ACV has received a very high volume of inquiries from agents asking about clients impacted by Hurricane Irma. “They can re-book,” says Montegnese.
Montegnese said ACV is deploying more than 20 team members to destinations impacted by the hurricane, and even some that were barely touched by the storm, “just to see everything with our own eyes. We’ll be sending them to Cuba, the D.R., Antigua, Turks & Caicos and more. We couldn’t send anyone until flights resumed.”
Montegnese said agents will see a staggered approach to flights and programs coming back into the affected destinations. He said ACV plans to add extra capacity to other popular destinations to make up for the shortfall, “but we’re going to put it where we need it. We’re not just going to throw capacity on everywhere. That would create a whole new problem.”
Karen Puebla with the Cuba Tourist Board said Irma first hit Camaguey, then headed west along Cuba’s northern coast. Most tour operators and airlines have suspended their flights into Cayo Coco and other resort destinations in the area until late October. Puebla says the causeway to Cayo Santa Maria is already cleared and damaged resorts will be rebuilt with building supplies already on the island, originally intended for new hotels.
Here are more product and brochure highlights from the ACV Sun Collection launches:
- The Sun Collection brochure has its Family Collection (with the Play product); the 18+ Adult Collection (including Costa Rica, Cuba, Antigua and other destinations); the Luxe Collection (five-star properties, gourmet dining, and 24 hour room service); the Spotlight Collection (popular resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean); wedding groups (no deposit for 90 days, storage space for wedding dress on board plane and $500 travel credit for next vacation); incentive groups (new feature is a $500 hotel or excursion credit to use at the destination) and cruises (new feature is no deposit on flights when client books air and cruise up to 30 days before departure and all flights are 100 per cent refundable up to 30 days prior to travel and one name change is permitted prior to travel).
- Air Canada gift cards can be used to purchase ACV vacation packages as of Oct. 15.
- Group bookings have been made easier. ACV needs 8 people to make a group and now children can be added to the count. There is also the chance to earn a 2% bonus commission. The group plan features extras such as room upgrades and the ability to have block seating on flights. ACV is also using AC Jetz for larger groups who want a private charter flight.
- U.S. destinations include California, Florida and Hawaii. Of the 25 largest properties in Las Vegas, 15 are listed in the Sun brochure.
- ‘Go Canada’ will see double the amount of ‘one-stop’ ski packages with popular slopes such as Banff, Jasper and Whistler offering three, five, and seven day packages. All cost from flights through to lift tickets are included in prices.
- The Travel Agent Handbook sets out the ACV&Me Rewards offered: 600 points per room for all air-inclusive packages of seven nights or more, 400 points for all air-inclusive packages of three to six nights, 600 points per stateroom for every Air & Cruise package of seven nights or more and 300 points per passenger in groups.
With files from Jean Sorensen