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TORONTO — Vision Travel, now with more than $1 billion in sales in Canada, just wrapped up its POV 2019: Power of Vision conference in Toronto.
Officially Vision Travel, A Direct Travel Company, the company is 1,000 strong across Canada. More than 600 advisors and supplier partners came out for the POV 2019 conference, held at the Sheraton Centre hotel.
One of the biggest talking points at the event was that Vision Travel is rebranding its corporate division to Direct Travel. Vision Travel merged with Direct Travel, one of the top travel management companies in the U.S., in 2017. Later that year both companies joined forces with ATPI.
“We are excited to grow and strengthen the brand by becoming one – Direct Travel, Inc.,” said Brian Robertson, President, Canada West region. “We’re consistently evolving to meet the changing needs of Canadian organizations and we’re committed to doing so without sacrificing the great service our clients have come to know and expect from us. This represents the next stage in our growth plan.”
Joel Ostrov, President, Canada East region, added: “The rebrand to Direct Travel is the next big chapter in our story. Consolidating our brands enables the company to stand out, not only within the travel industry, but also within the ever-growing travel technology ecosystem.”
There will be no changes to Vision Travel’s client services, locations, or personnel as a result of the rebrand. The leadership team will remain in place with Robertson and Ostrov setting the strategic vision and overseeing execution for each of their regions.
The organization’s leisure division will continue to operate under the Vision Travel brand in the Canada West region, with over 45 storefront locations across the country. The Canada East region will transition both corporate and leisure business.
Direct Travel has set its sights on expansion in Canada’s Meetings & Incentives (MICE) sector. In September 2019 the company announced it had acquired Meridican, a 30-year old Toronto-based MICE company that delivers incentive travel programs, meetings and conferences, product launches and consumer events.
Together Vision Travel, Direct Travel and ATPI represent over $7 billion in sales, with 160+ locations in more than 50 countries and over 4,500 team members worldwide.
“The alignment of our teams is going very well. The companies complement each other, it’s one of the reasons we got together in the first place,” said Robertson in an interview at the POV 2019 conference. Departments including HR, tech and finance are going through some restructuring – with no jobs losses, thankfully. But the client-facing operations in Canada will stay consistent. “We’re keeping our regional structure here in Canada, which keeps our travel advisors close to the clients,” he said.
Vision Travel has been on the expansion trail for quite a while now and the company continues to look out for opportunities in the retail sector. “When we put Vision Travel together in 2000, we acquired and merged, acquired and merged for the next 17 years,” says Robertson. Then came the Direct Travel deal, and more expansion.
Everyone’s keeping an eye on Air Canada’s potential acquisition of Transat, and waiting to see not only how that impacts the tour operator side of things, and the airlines, but retail too. Transat’s TDC division includes some 400 retail locations. Vision Travel already scooped up Transat’s Marlin Travel locations out West and others, including a number of Goliger’s locations.
Without knowing what Air Canada is planning to do with all those retail locations should the Transat deal go through, “we’re not ruling it out,” said Robertson, when asked if Vision Travel could be looking for more.
He added: “We’re looking for great companies with great people and great clients.”
Vision Travel’s leisure sales are strong, says Lynda Sinclair, Senior VP, Leisure Travel. “We’re seeing longer stays and clients are booking further out. And we’re seeing more world cruises than we’ve ever had before. The fact that people are putting money down now for world cruises in 2021 is fantastic,” said Sinclair, adding that Vision Travel is well aligned for the high-end leisure bookings thanks to its membership in Virtuoso. Upscale customized tours are selling well too.