TORONTO — As if celebrating one Travel Agent Day during a pandemic wasn’t strange enough, here we are in 2021, marking this special day on the retail travel calendar once again with travel restrictions in place.
While no one in the industry could have predicted this turn of events, it’s also true that the almost 14 months of challenges as a result of COVID-19 have shone the brightest light on all the hard work and dedication from travel agents.
And for that, suppliers are saying thank you.
Some are offering agent incentives. Others are promoting agent contests. And all have words of support and appreciation.
Travelweek has compiled an A-to-Z list (or just about) of Travel Agent Day 2021 offers; it can be seen here.
“You are the ones on the front line with customers,” says Collette’s GM, Brett Walker. “You are the ones fighting for their money while often out yours. You are the ones who banded together to help each other and the industry through tumultuous times and you are the ones who are nurturing future travel aspirations and, when the time comes, will make dreams take flight. I personally can’t wait for that day!”
Walker adds: “Few outside our industry know how much we’ve all been through this past year, but those of us harnessed to this incredible industry and our passion, know all too well how difficult this pandemic has been for travel agents. A big, big, thank-you to all travel agents across Canada and everywhere.”
COLLEEN LORENZEN, THE AGENT WHO STARTED IT ALL
The woman who started it all, Colleen Lorenzen with Uniglobe Carefree Travel in Saskatoon, SK, says Travel Agent Day is more important now than ever. “We have had one hell of a year but are still here to work with our clients,” she says.
Lorenzen came up with Travel Agent Day in 2011, as a way to recognize the hard-working team of agents in her agency, and to encourage other agency managers and owners, and suppliers, to do the same. Uniglobe Carefree Travel has managed to keep its office going during the pandemic, with core staff, she says.
Travel agents are key to travel’s restart post-pandemic, and that’s a message ACTA President Wendy Paradis says she’s hearing from suppliers as well as consumers. Informed and up-to-date advice has never been more important.
“Not only have we heard about the importance of working with a knowledgeable and professional travel agent from travel suppliers – we’ve heard it from travellers, and mainstream media as well,” says Paradis. “Reporters from all over Canada have reached out to ACTA on a consistent basis over the past year. In the early days of the pandemic, they were interested in hearing about how travel agents were helping Canadians get home. More recently, [they’re] interested in the future of travel and we are seeing that they often state how important it will be to work with the professional travel agent.”
SINGING THE PRAISES OF TRAVEL AGENTS
Suppliers across Canada are singing the praises of travel agents.
Says Deana Murphy, VP Retail Sales at Sunwing Travel Group: “The pandemic has posed some unique challenges for our industry, and everyone at Sunwing is grateful for the continued support, hard work and dedication of the agent community. We know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll all get through this together.”
For the team at Unique Vacations Canada Inc., the bond with the loyal travel agents who sell
Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts took on new meaning this year.
“Since day one of Sandals in 1981, our late Chairman and founder, the Hon. Gordon “Butch” Stewart, had the foresight to understand the power of the retail travel advisor,” Maureen Barnes-Smith, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Canada tells Travelweek.
“For 40 years, every level of our company has embraced his commitment and partnership to travel advisors. It’s truly become part of our DNA. There’s nothing we do without thinking about how it will impact our travel advisor partners,” she says.
When Mr. Stewart passed away at the beginning of this year, “the outpouring of love and support from travel advisors across Canada, and around the world, was overwhelmingly genuine,” said Barnes-Smith. “It’s something we’ll never forget as we continue his legacy of loyalty to travel advisors.”
To read the full article check out the special May 5, 2021 Travel Agent Day edition of Travelweek here.