“I like to say travel agents are back in style,” Wendy Paradis, president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, told PAX.
Recently, ACTA held its Travel Agent Appreciation Day celebrations aboard a harbour cruise in Vancouver on May 30.
The evening was a continuation of Travel Agent Day, recognized as the first Wednesday of May.
“We decided to make Travel Agent Day last the whole month of May so tonight is really us bringing out travel members to celebrate the hard work they do, the contribution they make to building incredible travel experiences for Canadian travellers,” Paradis continued.
ACTA’s mandate is to advocate on behalf of travel agents and travel agencies, noted Paradis, who cited key issues of travel health insurance in Alberta and lobbying the provincial governments of British Colombia, Ontario, and Quebec for changes to the Travel Industry Act.
Another key issue is Canada’s record of airline debit memos.
“We used to be the third worst debit memo country in the world, behind China and India,” Paradis noted. “Now we are the fourth worst for debit memos, but we do have a commitment from IATA and our airline partners to make some real change.”
ACTA’s newest initiative is to reach Generation Y and Millennials.
“I think one of the trends that we’re seeing is that the Generation Y, or the Millennials are now getting to an age group where they’re having kids, they are really busy in their careers as well and so they are really seeing the value of using a professional travel agent,” said Paradis.
In January, ACTA embarked on a social media initiative that incorporated working with influencers around the world in order to illustrate the importance and underlying value of using a travel agent via social media. ACTA has a supporting webinar agents can access through its online campus.
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The evening included a trade show, featuring Sandals Luxury Included Vacations, Trafalgar Tours, Collette, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Member Perks by Venngo, and tboholidays.com, as well as door prizes from sponsors Air Canada, Capri CMW employee benefits program, Marriott; Manulife Insurance, Enterprise Holdings, Alliance Insurance, Park n Fly, Saber, and Holland America/Seabourn and a 50/50 draw with the proceed going to Tourism Cares, ACTA’s charity of choice.
The event also saw the presentation of the Ches Chard Award which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a significant commitment to travel industry professionalism, education, training and excellence in human resource management.
John Brower of Eaton College in Surrey, BC is the 2019 recipient of the award. John began his career as a travel agent in the 1970s and became one of Canada’s first official certified travel counsellors in 1980. He has been a CTC member in good standing for almost 40 years. Passionate about travel industry professionalism and life-long learning he became a travel industry trainer and then a college instructor, and is currently the director of education and registrar at Eaton College.