“We’re very proud”: Louise Fecteau on TDC’s new partnership with major luxury player Virtuoso
Transat Distribution Canada GM, Louise Fecteau

“We’re very proud”: Louise Fecteau on TDC’s new partnership with major luxury player Virtuoso

MONTREAL — Patience is a virtue, or so the saying goes, and it could apply to just about the entire travel industry for the past two years.

It’s also an apt descriptor for Transat Distribution Canada’s journey to put together its LuxeXpert program, and ultimately collaborate with Virtuoso, the global retail travel network that has all but become synonymous with luxury travel.

As TDC General Manager Louise Fecteau tells it, TDC flagged the ever-growing luxury market as a top-tier focus for growth for TDC, all the way back in fall 2019. It would be TDC’s last in-person regional conference for quite a while, although no one knew it then.

By summer 2021, after more than a year of the pandemic, TDC was able to launch its new LuxeXpert program.

And just last month came word that certified LuxeXpert advisors would be invited to join Virtuoso.

The partnership was worth the wait, says Fecteau. “We’re very proud,” she said in an interview yesterday with Travelweek. “Some of our members have asked to be part of Virtuoso for a long time.”

A travel advisor who’s part of the TDC network who wants to take the LuxeXpert program receives plenty of training, not so much on luxury product, “but on how to market that kind of trip, to know how to reach those luxury clients, and to know who’s a luxury client and who’s not,” Fecteau tells Travelweek.

Once the agent has received their LuxeXpert certification, they can apply to join Virtuoso. TDC notes in a release that selected certified LuxeXpert travel professionals in the TDC network who are members of Virtuoso will now have access to everything from complimentary hotel upgrades, to airport transfers, unique dining experiences, exclusive shore excursions and custom itineraries.

As TDC notes, benefits from Virtuoso’s hotel program alone are worth more than US$500 per stay.

And Úna O’Leary, Virtuoso’s general manager, Canada, said: “We are delighted to expand our presence in Canada by inviting LuxeXperts into the Virtuoso network. Their commitment to meeting the demands and expectations of the luxury consumer mirrors our own, and we look forward to helping LuxeXperts further develop this side of their business through our partnership programs, marketing vehicles and professional development.”

FECTEAU TALKS TRAVEL TRENDS 

Now that travel is reopening, we asked Fecteau what trends she’s seeing with TDC’s sales overall.

“People are spending more on trips than ever,” she says. “And not necessarily because they’re a big group. Sometimes it’s just two or four people.”

There’s also been a dramatic rise in last-minute bookings. “Right now about 60% of sales are really last-minute sun bookings, for these last months of winter 2022,” says Fecteau. “Another 25% are for Europe and also cruises. And the remaining 15% are bookings for 2023.”

To Europe, bookings are coming in primarily for France, the UK, Italy, Spain and Portugal. “And any cruises, any cruise at all,” says Fecteau. “They are so popular right now.”

We asked Fecteau if she had any other important issues to touch on. Just one, she said. “We need to congratulate our travel agencies. In TDC and every agency. It’s been two years of the pandemic. Imagine, two years without any revenue. They have been so strong. It was not easy for them. It was not easy for anybody.”