TORONTO — More than 100 travel advisors have applied to join Avalon Waterways’ very first River Cruise Summit – and it’s not even a week since the application process opened up.
The strong demand makes future summits almost a certainty, and that’s been confirmed by Ainsley Ericksen, senior director of marketing for the Globus family of brands.
“We’re calling this our inaugural river cruise summit because we absolutely expect there to be more – including a wait list for this first-ever gathering,” she says in an exclusive interview with Travelweek.
Presented in partnership with ACTA, the event was first announced back in September at ACTA’s own 2022 Eastern Canada Travel Industry Summit.
The 134 travel advisors will sail onboard Avalon Vista, experiencing the seven-day ‘Romantic Rhine’ itinerary from Amsterdam to Basel.
Participating agents will not only have the chance to experience the Avalon difference on ships, they’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a choice of ‘Classic,’ ‘Discovery’ and ‘Active’ excursions. Agents will also get inspired – and find new business opportunities – with onboard workshops and special events.
ACTA President Wendy Paradis says: “Recognizing that river cruising is the fastest growing travel option across the globe, it’s clear that the new wave in cruising is on the world’s rivers. Through our first River Cruise Summit with Avalon Waterways, we look forward to providing a great networking opportunity for Canadian travel agents, as well as the chance to learn for themselves why river cruising provides a great opportunity for them to really grow their business.”
Travelweek spoke to Ericksen to find out more about this special inaugural summit, the company’s partnership with ACTA, and how bookings are rolling in for Avalon cruises for 2023 and beyond.
Travelweek: What sort of demand is Avalon seeing for this very first River Cruise Summit, now that the application process has opened?
Ericksen: “The interest in river and small-ship cruising is at an all-time high, across the globe. And that truth has been reflected early in our application process for our first River Cruise Summit, in partnership with ACTA.
“After just a few days, we have already received applications from more than 100 advisors. These are advisors who are keen to get on board – literally and figuratively – to see for themselves, why river cruising is the fastest-growing travel style today while also experiencing the Avalon difference and networking with fellow advisors across Canada. As a result, we anticipate that this cruise will fill up once we’ve registered all applications.”
Travelweek: What can you share about the selection process for the 134 advisors?
Ericksen: “To ensure the integrity of this experience – and keep it focused on one gathering – we have a limited number of spaces available to advisors.
“Those who join us will be selected through a qualification process including the following criteria:
- Active ACTA membership or join before Dec. 31, 2022
- Completion of Globus family of brands advisor training program, GFOB University, before January 18, 2023
- Completion of Air Canada’s advisor training program, GSU by Jan. 18, 2023
“If selected to join us for this inaugural event, advisors will be sent a full registration form on or soon after Jan. 18, 2023, and a nominal non-refundable deposit of Cdn$250 will be required at that time.”
Travelweek: If demand is strong, could there be more summits?
Ericksen: “We’re calling this our inaugural river cruise summit because we absolutely expect there to be more – including a wait list for this first-ever gathering.”
Traveleek: What takeaways is Avalon hoping travel advisors will get from the summit?
Ericksen: “There is a new wave in cruising. Avalon Waterways has redefined the cruise experience for guests by going against the current to deliver unparalleled experiences and boundless exploration, thanks, in part, to AvalonChoice Excursions, Adventure Hosts on every trip, incredible dining options and of course, Panorama Suites with Open-Air Balconies providing the grandest views in cruising. The best way to share this story is to invite advisors on board. One step aboard our modern, luxurious Suite Ships and they will have the opportunity to see, first-hand, how the tides are changing.
“And, as if those takeaways aren’t reason enough to attend, we will be featuring educational opportunities and experiences on our Suite Ship to help advisors grow their business and network with the Canadian travel advisor community.”
Travelweek: Did 2022 exceed expectations for Avalon, and what’s the outlook for 2023 in terms of forward bookings?
Ericksen: “We didn’t know what to expect for 2022 from Canadian travellers coming out of a pandemic with high standards in exit and entry requirements. It has been a solid, comeback year for us. And 2023 is even stronger. Worldwide, we are set to exceed our 2019 cruise bookings.”
Travelweek: Why was it important to Avalon to partner with ACTA on this event?
Ericksen: “Our partnership with ACTA and this event reflects our commitment to supporting Canadian travel advisors through hands-on learning experiences, sales strategies and unparalleled networking, on top of providing an immersive river cruise aboard an Avalon Suite Ship that places a timely spotlight on this fastest-growing travel style.”
Click here for application details for the River Cruise Summit.