TORONTO – You can’t keep a travel agent down, not even with a low Canadian dollar.
According to TRAVELSAVERS offices, business is thriving despite the loonie’s drop last winter, with both clients and suppliers ensuring that winter holidays are still affordable.
“Overall, winter business in our Canadian offices is very much up year-on-year and summer business is looking stronger over last year,” says Kathryn Mazza-Burney, Executive Vice President, Sales, TRAVELSAVERS. “Our agents are sales agents, not just order takers, and they are actively assisting clients, playing a consultative role in finding holidays they can afford.”
She adds that although there have been increases in pricing this winter, things could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the company’s preferred partners and the expertise of its members, whose efforts are “now showing up in our year-on-year performance with many of our supplier partners.”
Cathie Lewis-Hardy, Vice President, International Marketing, credits Canadian tour operators for helping to “cushion the price increases” that were a direct result of the drop in the dollar.
“Tour operators in Canada have been reaching out to their hotelier partners to come to the table with price reductions,” she says. “They have been successful and pricing now reflects these hotel reductions. In addition, our partners have been adjusting their yield to stay competitive. Depending on market conditions, destinations, hotels and many tour operators have lowered their ‘margin’ expectations for the short term.”
The formidable cruise industry also shows no signs of slowing down, with cruise sales up this winter, reports TRAVELSAVERS. Mass-market cruise lines, in particular, are doing well, says Lewis-Hardy, who applauds cruise lines for adjusting their pricing and offering continuous specials.
What is down, however, is bookings to the U.S., not to mention the Europe cruise market, which is still being affected by the dollar.
And as for domestic travel, the only region in Canada where agencies are showing weaker sales is in Alberta and Saskatchewan, not surprising considering the downturn in the economy in those provinces.
In Quebec, people are still travelling and seeking value in destinations like Cuba and Mexico, says Johan Marjanek, Director, New Business Development, TRAVELSAVERS, Quebec. While people were more hesitant to travel last fall, sales are once again picking up in the province, thanks in large part to the stabilizing dollar and the company’s new website, OnlineXpress. Marjanek notes, however, that “many clients want to prepay as much as possible in Canadian funds.”