TORONTO — When your big event of the year coincides with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ biggest playoff game in 19 years, you take the logical step: you live stream the game during your gala dinner.
The Leafs’ Game 6 win on Saturday night (and the Edmonton Oilers’ Game 6 win too, for any Oilers fans in the audience) capped a great day of executive and supplier presentations, education sessions and workshops, meals and tradeshow at UNIGLOBE Travel’s (Eastern Canada) annual conference, held at the Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport Hotel.
It was UNIGLOBE’s first annual conference since the pandemic, and more than 190 travel agency owners, managers, travel advisors and preferred supplier partners came out for it.
Dean Dacko, Regional President announced during his opening presentation that Uniglobe Travel (Eastern Canada) have formally acquired the territory rights for all of Canada and will rebrand themselves Uniglobe Travel (Canada) effective immediately. The news that Uniglobe is going national was first announced in 2019 but got overshadowed by the pandemic.
Martin Charlwood, President & COO, UNIGLOBE Travel International LP, said: “We are very supportive of [the] announcement regarding the formation of the new Uniglobe Travel (Canada) Region. Previously, Uniglobe ran two separate Regions in Canada, one in the east and one in the west, and while there was often co-operation between the two entities, this newly combined Canada-wide Region will be able to take advantage of many synergies that will help drive Uniglobe to new heights in Canada. In fact, we’re coming back full circle to the early days when Uniglobe first entered the Canadian Market as one Region, and we feel strongly that some of Uniglobe’s best days here in Canada are yet to come.”
Current Regional Owner Frank Dennis Jr. son of past Regional Owner Frank Dennis Sr. delivered a heartfelt tribute to his late father that complimented the success of the region over the past four decades. “Uniglobe Travel has always led the industry with leading edge technology and marketing solutions that allows our members to focus on delivering exceptional customer service that drives increased client growth and profitability. Our ability to deliver value will be greatly enhanced as a national entity and we look forward to strong growth in the months and years to come,” said Dennis.
Dacko said that the national strategy marks a “monumental moment” in UNIGLOBE’s 40+ year history, and represents a new beginning for an organization that is already recognized as one of the most successful corporate and leisure retail travel brands in Canada.
“The strength of this new national position will enhance our ability to accelerate our growth right across the country from coast to coast to coast,” said Dacko.
Travelweek had a chance to connect with Dacko ahead of Saturday’s conference…
Travelweek: From all reports, leisure travel’s recovery is continuing despite consumer economic concerns. What are you hearing anecdotally from UNIGLOBE members about record-high booking levels, and do you have any stats that underline Uniglobe’s leisure recovery so far?
Dacko: “Our booking volume continues to increase at a rapid pace across the entire network with all of agencies reporting a significant increase in transactions and revenue. Network-wide we are approximately 98% of 2019 revenues with anticipation to exceed those values by the end of Q2 2023.”
Travelweek: A big part of UNIGLOBE’s business is SME, and corporate travel hasn’t bounced back as quickly as leisure. What are you seeing in terms of recovery on the SME side of the business?
Dacko: “Our recovery thus far has been highly concentrated in leisure, but corporate travel has really started to accelerate in recent months with corporate travel volume expected to be above 2019 levels by the end of the year.”
Travelweek: Travel agents are run off their feet dealing with high booking and inquiry levels, plus they’re dealing with staff shortages. How is UNIGLOBE dealing with this challenging situation?
Dacko: “The rapid increase in travel demand has forced us to take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach. The strength of our model at UNIGLOBE Travel is that each agency owner is directly involved and is accountable to deliver the services to our clients. This is their business [and] they literally take ownership to ensure the success of all aspects of the business.”
Travelweek: It’s wonderful that UNIGLOBE is back with its annual conference, after the pandemic years. What can you tell us about expected attendance levels, both from members and suppliers?
Dacko: “Yes we are very thrilled to bring us all back together for the first time in over three and a half years. We expect an audience of just under 200 attendees with a combination of owners, travel staff and suppliers.”
Travelweek: What exciting plans does UNIGLOBE have in store for 2023?
Dacko: “We have incredible news to announce the formal combination of UNIGLOBE Travel Eastern Canada with UNIGLOBE Travel Western Canada to create our new National brand UNIGLOBE Travel Canada. We will now be able to leverage all of the strengths of each of those two distinct entities to deliver a unified service model from coast to coast to coast in Canada! We are thrilled by the opportunities to grow and expand across the country and deliver the unique value that UNIGLOBE Travel has represented for decades, now within a unified national organization.”