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If last year was about rebounding then it’s full steam ahead for 2024, says Transat Distribution Canada's General Manager Karine Gagnon.
TDC held its annual conference over the weekend in Toronto with the theme “Ride the Wave”, where renowned speakers, preferred partners and industry pros gathered to prepare for an upcoming busy period in the world of travel.
“The message we want to convey through our theme is this: we have no control over the wave; neither over the moment it comes at you, nor its intensity. But we can and must be prepared to stand up on our board when our turn to ride comes”, explains TDC’s General Manager, Karine Gagnon.
Gagnon says things are a bit different since last year since the 2022 conference; the mood is very positive, very motivated and while there are still challenges to face, she says everybody’s going in the right direction.
“Last year everyone was still getting over what had happened in the past three years, it was very positive, but there was a bit of sensitivity,” she tells TravelPulse Canada during an interview at the conference. “The conference is always a great opportunity for meeting partners and finding out what’s new.”
Gagnon adds that “we all know we’ve had our share of big waves to ride and overcome in the travel industry, and we can never be too prepared for the next ones”.
TDC is releasing a new campaign in the next two weeks in Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada completely focused on the importance of the travel advisor.
“It’s not going to be about a beach, it’s not going to be an image of a destination, we’re focusing on the advisor and bringing the travel professional into that conversation,” Marc Pelletier, Senior Director, Marketing, Communications and Events told TravelPulse Canada.
“The tagline is “five-star travel professional, five-star memories.” That is the first step in putting much more focus in our marketing communications and at every touchpoint to educate the consumer in very simple words on the value of an agent.”
“I'm really excited about it because it’s going to shine a light on the profession and what the value of an advisor is. And hopefully will encourage everyone, even outside of TDC to do the same.”
That sentiment was echoed by keynote speaker and industry favourite Geraldine Ree, a who gave tips on how to generate more and better high value customers and how convert and retain those customers who understand advisors’ worth – and are willing to pay for it.
Gagnon says COVID was an opportunity to showcase their value in terms of charging fees; something President Joseph Adamo said last week at the Toronto ACTA summit. (TDC advisors charge $50-100pp fees).
“COVID brought this opportunity and thankfully – finally – our advisors are charging fees, and it cannot disappear because we're out of COVID. Their value rising constantly.”
TDC isn’t the only travel industry outlet who is focusing on the travel advisor for 2024. Earlier in the week, both CATO and ACTA said they’re including strategies to do so in their 2024 plans. ACTA is also beginning a recruitment campaign, targeting new advisors through post-secondary education. TDC will continue to engage through their TDC Campus, their Learning Management System (LMS).
“We operate about 30 agencies that are part of the network and we're seeing a bit more influx coming in, but it's been difficult recruiting. I think what owners needed from us are the tools to help hire and train newcomers which is why we relaunched our TDC Campus this spring. There’s more content and it’s beefed up and better tailored, and there’s a dashboard for them to see the advancements of their trainees.
It was a big piece we launched which I think owners appreciate.”
Nearly 45 valued partners are joining in over the weekend to share their latest updates, either during the roundtable discussions or the traditional and trade show, which are TDC’s keys to moving forward.
"These partners are among our strongest allies in enabling TDC to support its members by offering optimal conditions to maximize their profitability, particularly through enhanced commissions. Their year-to-year presence at our annual conference is clear evidence of our loyal relationship with many of them," says Gagnon.
TDC partners and advisors should expect to see increased visits, an expressed version of the Leaders’ Forum that was at the conference, and more roundtable discussions.
“Travel demand is still there. We're seeing consumers also booked quite a bit ahead in advance this year. So reorienting and positioning ourselves, I think will lead to success for next year.”
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