TORONTO — When Direct Travel and its Canadian division Vision Travel started Town Hall zoom meetings for its advisors across North America six months ago, the plans were for the program to last a few weeks, or months at most.
“In fact, we have just marked our 25th town hall,” says Stephen Smith, Toronto-based Senior Vice-President of Leisure Marketing – North America for the group. “And they are proving not only a great way to share news from senior management, but a lifeline of communication for our advisors.”
COVID-19 has brought a lot of hardship and isolation to travel advisors, and the town halls are just one way the retailer is reaching out to its members.
The hour-long calls attract an average of 325 attendees. Industry updates, corporate policy initiatives and messages of support and care form a typical call. During every call there are members of the senior management team on hand to answer questions and help participants negotiate the pandemic.
“We feel that consistent and open communication with our team is so important during these challenging times,” says Gerard Bellino, Executive Vice President, Leisure at Direct Travel.
The calls, held initially every two weeks, are now held weekly, and are combined with e-updates from headquarters.
The calls are especially popular with the group’s independent advisors, adds Smith. “We are committed to keeping our ITAs in the loop and feeling part of the team, and know it’s especially important now that there are no in-person trainings or industry events.”
Carol Pilon, a Toronto-based independent travel advisor, says: “I really enjoy the insights into the industry as it relates to us, and the transparency of what the senior team is telling us: they will answer any question we may have. I make a point of attending every one and look forward to them.”