Mark your calendars, Canada. TravelOnly may soon be coming to a town near you.
In an effort to support its associates across the country, TravelOnly has launched a new live training series custom-made for travel agents who live in various regions across Canada.
“It’s a renewed focus,” Ian Elliott, TravelOnly’s vice-president of retail sales and business development, told PAX. “As a national company, we try and support our advisors across the country.”
The new workshops, led by TravelOnly’s head office staff, started earlier this year in Vancouver and Edmonton, and then continued this month in Montreal, QC and Moncton, NB.
The events represent a “conscious investment” in Canada’s diverse communities, as well as a continued commitment to helping travel advisors grow their business, Elliott said.
“The idea is to give advisors training specific to their regions,” said Elliott, who recently attended TravelOnly's June 22nd Moncton event, which drew nearly 30 attendees.
Travel logistics, and how travel is sold, is often determined by one’s region, Elliott said.
It’s why taking live seminars on the road is so important.
“Tour operator partners don’t service some regions year-round, so quoting clients can be more difficult for some advisors. Travel, [for example], may require a stay in Toronto or Montreal. There are regional differences in the gateways,” Elliott explained.
Sourcing effective marketing materials that help travel advisors promote their services can also be a challenge in some of Canada’s regions, Elliott said.
“A lot of suppliers source marketing materials that are focused on Ontario,” he said. “Some advisors have to create their own marketing materials. We want to provide them with better consuming-facing materials.”
What many travel agents want is simply time to connect with their fellow colleagues, Elliott said.
“They want to talk to their peers about their business,” he said. “They want to learn from people in their region.”
Uniting agents in the East
Joining Elliott in Moncton this month was Gregory Luciani, president and CEO of TravelOnly, as well as representatives from Carnival, Transat, Air Canada Vacations, WestJet, Star Clippers and Sandals, each of whom delivered presentations highlighting various opportunities and challenges within the region.
Attendees weren’t solely from Moncton either. “It was an East Coast gathering,” Elliott said. “We had people from PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec.”
While Luciani met with associates to offer support and business advice, Elliott delivered a high-level training session on Uplift, a new travel financing program available in Canada, and reviewed the latest marketing tools that are available to advisors.
However, the highlight of the day, said Elliott, was the expert panel consisting of top advisors Carina Shortliffe, Helene Daigle Robichaud, Ginette Richard, Jennifer Arsenault, as well as Gregory Luciani.
“Everyone was totally engaged,” Elliott said.
The panelists discussed how they grew their respective travel sales and what they learned along the way.
Some key takeaways included:
- Starting in travel is overwhelming for everyone. Do not get discouraged when it feels like you are drowning.
- Take time to learn the products but to also lean on colleagues: TravelOnly’s head office team and especially the supplier BDMs.
- Mistakes will happen. The most important thing is to learn from them.
- Customer service and getting back to your clients is the number one way of ensuring repeat business. It’s the best way to grow.
- Market, market, market. Get your name out there, talk to your friends and family, ask others to refer you.
- Experience the products you are selling. FAMs are vital to talking knowledgeably about travel.
- Work together as a team. Partner up with other advisors in your area, put a group together and learn from each other.
“The training was a huge success,” Elliott said, confirming that TravelOnly will commit to more live training events in Eastern Canada this fall.
“Our takeaway is that we have to do this more often,” Elliott said, noting that East Coast travel agents, as a group, in particular, sell more per agent than almost all other regions in Canada (Halifax Seaport, for one, can be a goldmine for cruise sales).
“It’s a high-producing area that we need to target more,” Elliott said. “Our goal will be to move our Eastern training to various cities so we reach as many advisors as possible.”
TravelOnly plans to host its regional events in communities across Canada twice a year. Stay tuned to PAX for a complete schedule.
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