WestJet’s Travel Trade Expo kicked off in Calgary Monday (May 9) at the massive BMO Centre in Stampede Park.
Attracting more than 400 agents and 90 partners, including destinations, hoteliers, resorts and attractions, and 41 WestJetter volunteers, WestJet’s expos have doubled in size since last year’s successful inaugural events.
According to Jane Clementino, director of agency sales, WestJet, the expos are an efficient training opportunity for travel agents, allowing them to educate themselves about product awareness.
“Agents need to be advisors, so it’s important for them to come here and learn everything they can in one night with one investment,” she said. “They can learn about our products and have hands-on, one-to-one experience with WestJetters, as well as with the various supplier partners.”
Following the tradeshow, guests then divided into six separate breakout sessions hosted by expo gold sponsors AMResorts, Atlantis Paradise Island, Las Vegas, Meliã, Palace Resorts and Bahia Principe.
At the same time, WestJet took the opportunity to introduce new selling tools, all developed to assist and support travel agents, including their enhanced Travel Agent Resource Site which launched last week.
After phasing out the WestJet Vacations’ printed brochure in 2012, Clementino said they realized it was a mistake. Since producing smaller versions over the last few years, the new brochure debuted at the expo, containing more than 300 pages of fully detailed, product descriptions.
And the current booking engine Agent WEBLink will be re-launched this July as WestJet Agent, with new enhancements including open jaw, multi-city booking access, flight changes and cancellations.
“Home-based agents are on the uptick and they don’t all have access to the GDS,” said Clementino. “So WestJet Agent will allow them to have online capabilities without having to call in.”
WestJet and WestJet Vacations have constantly kept the travel trade top of mind. The Travel Agent Advisory Board consisting of 42 agents was an initiative that was introduced last June, and will continue after seeing much success.
“Over half of our bookings come from the travel agent community,” Clementino told PAX. “They are a huge distribution channel – one that we want to respect and we understand the value they bring.”
This round of the WestJet Travel Trade Expos continue in Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, Mississauga and Toronto. Another series of six events will take place in September.