More than 50 travel agents from Centre Holidays, a Canadian host agency based in Mississauga, Ontario, gathered at the Occidental Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for its first annual travel agent conference and business bootcamp led by CEO and owner Carlton Montaut.
Montaut and business partner Barbara Sasiadek started the home based business travel agency model in 2003 with a handful of agents, which has now grown to include more than 270 agents across Canada.
Both new and experienced agents travelled from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario to Punta Cana to learn from each other and build the Centre Holidays team into a new direction of “Redefining Travel”.
The two day business bootcamp began with specialist training sessions including destination weddings, cruises and Disney vacations. Jermaine Montaut led the social media marketing session, while Andre Montaut, marketing manager and technical support specialist presented a new design and functionalities for all agent websites.
Business and sales tools topics were covered, as well as accounting and commission tracking presented by Operations Manager Michele Montgomery. Agents were also introduced to details of the new wholesale division, Epik Escapes, focusing on specialty travel with guaranteed departures and customized itineraries for small group travel to India, Israel, South Pacific, Africa, and Peru to start.
The South Pacific Polynesian islands will be the first focus of Epik Escapes as led by Valentine Skeels, South Pacific Specialist.
Agents were invited to bring any extra school, sports, medical or personal care supplies with them as a collective donation to packforapurpose.org, a not-for-profit organization that encourages travellers to pack for a purpose to any destination in the world where they have partners.
With Westjet's humanitarian baggage allowance permitting one extra baggage of supplies per person, the Centre Holidays team was able to collect and bring a collaborative donation to Outback Adventures Punta Cana, who will distribute the supplies to the projects in need.
Story and photos by: Renee Tsang