MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations launched its winter sun 2022-23 product in Montreal last night, with a high-impact event that delivered all the excitement everyone in the industry feels as they look ahead to this comeback season.
It was the first in-person #ACVDreamMakers event since 2019, with more than 550 travel agents in attendance, and 1,500+ agents tuning in virtually.
ACV’s first-ever Sun Collection digital brochure “inspires Canadians to Follow the Sun,” says the company.
ACV adds that it is leading the charge in digital-first initiatives with the launch of its Dream of Sun interactive digital brochure.
That’s in addition to enhanced self-serve tools available to travel agents via the Manage Your Booking page on aircanadavacations.com, which allows travel agents to effectively serve their customers.
Highlights of ACV’s program for the coming winter season include …
- Air Canada Vacations’ Sun Collection offers 600+ resorts across 38 destinations, plus hundreds of cruise itineraries.
- Enhanced ePackages program offers flexibility and equips travel partners with the tools they need to book flight and hotel packages for customers anywhere Air Canada operates
- ACV’s Vacation Promise, Cruise Promise and CareFlex and Carefree programs allow customers to travel with peace of mind, providing agents with turnkey tools to support their clients
- Expansive product offering in Europe and Canada allows agents to book the long-awaited vacation of their
- client’s dreams
- Advantages for clients and agents: Groups Elevate wedding packages, Riu Plaza Hotels offer and Travel Agent Incentive offer
- ACV&ME loyalty program offers more rewards, flexibility, and automation
INTERVIEW WITH ACV’S NINO MONTAGNESE
Gwendoline Duval, General Manager of Profession Voyages, part of The Travelweek Group, took in the ACV celebrations last night, with plenty of smiling faces in photos posted on Travelweek’s Facebook page; click here to check them out.
Says Duval: “Last night, the Southern warmth and vibe was felt in Montreal, as Air Canada Vacations welcomed nearly 600 travel advisors to mark the launch of its digital edition winter sun brochure. ACV decided to hold a single face-to-face event in Canada. No usual tour through the main Canadian cities, but no more virtual either! That said, advisors across the country were able to follow the in-person event live via virtual platform.”
Duval spoke with ACV’s Vice President, Nino Montagnese, at last night’s event. Here’s their interview …
Duval: Welcome to Montreal! Tell us about this launch.
Montagnese: “Sure! The preparation for the launch started many months ago, probably close to eight months ago, when we didn’t know what we were headed towards. We didn’t know if live events were going to be possible. So the first thing we did was, we secured the virtual platform. And then as we got closer, we realized, you know, let’s try to host one event at least. And I said I wanted the first show to be in Montreal, and then we’ll use the platform to get to the rest of Canada. So that’s exactly what we did. What is really unique is that we were able to get over 70 suppliers here tonight.”
Duval: Are booking levels approaching 2019 levels, or have they surpassed 2019 levels?
Montagnese: “We’ve seen very strong bookings, better than 2019 up until three weeks ago, and now they’re comparable to 2019. All our trade partners are telling us that the bookings are coming in. We want to give them the tools that they need to sell the products. And we’re launching 38 destinations, so that’s a lot of product.”
Duval: What are people booking?
Montagnese: “Mexico is doing extremely well. The English Caribbean is doing very well too. Really, it’s all booking. Everyone is talking about the pent-up demand, and I don’t think that pent-up demand is going to go away for at least the next two years.
“It’s why I always say to our trade partners, take advantage of your bookings, take advantage of the customers that are coming to book. Don’t always look for the lowest price. Because in most cases, they haven’t travelled for three years. Send them somewhere superb. Put them in a superior seat. Put them in a superior room. Upsell. It gives [agents] an opportunity to make some more commission and they will definitely have a happy customer.”
Duval: Do you think the travel measures will ease further, as reported, by Sept. 30?
Montagnese: “It sounds like they will, I wish I had a magic ball, but it sounds as though the government is going to ease off on ArriveCAN.”
Duval: Do you think it’s a good thing?
Montagnese: “I do. We need to get back to normality, whatever that is. Our industry has suffered. We have all suffered. So for us now, we need the measures to go away. And we need to rebuild together. It’s about rebuilding our industry together.”
Duval: And do you believe it can happen?
Duval: I heard that ACV has new online tools for the trade. Are travel advisors using them?
Montagnese: “We do have new tools, and I know agents are using them. In February we launched Manage Your Booking, and TripBook. So that trade partners could come in and self-serve their their bookings. If there’s a name correction on a booking, they don’t need to call, they can go in, pull their booking up and correct the name. If they forgot to add the Aeroplan number to the booking, they can now pull the booking up and add the Aeroplan number for the customer. What is unique about the automation that we put forward is we’re allowing them to do that up to seven days prior to departure. So really, they have the autonomy to manage their their booking up to seven days before the customer goes.
“Since we launched the automation, which was mid- February to towards the end of February, we’ve had over 60,000 transactions made by our partners using the tool, and that’s just the corrections. So they’re using it.
“And now what happens is that the phone lines are available for the trade partners who actually need to talk to a live agent. You might have a customer who was booked to go seven days, and now they want to go nine days. That’s a deviation to the booking. For that we need to help our customers and we need to help our trade partners. We couldn’t get to it before because we had long wait times.
“So now our trade partners can sell more. They can self serve, they’re able to serve their customers much better.”
Duval: What’s your message for travel agents who couldn’t come today?
Montagnese: “Embrace the tools. The virtual platform is going be live or about 30 days. So if they couldn’t come out to the live event tonight, the virtual platform is still alive. Go visit the booths, grab the information. All the booths have information that’s here live on the virtual platform.”
Duval: What do you expect from this winter season in terms of occupancy rates selling bookings?
Montagnese: “All our hotel partners are booking at full capacity again, which is fantastic news. We are seeing very good load factors, already. So I think it’s going to be very strong. I highly suggest that customers book ahead of time. It’s not going to be like the good old days where there was a lot of a product out there, and distressed product. Product is selling out. If there’s a message, it’s this: don’t have your customers wait. Get the booking in. Get the commission. You want a higher rate, you want to earn more commission.”
For more information go to http://www.professionvoyages.com/.