Michelle Froese is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and adventurer. She's an advocate for clean energy and eco-tourism, and has spent nearly 15 years as an editor for renewable trade publications and more than 20 years as a technical writer. Michelle serves as an editorial judge and marketing manager for TABPI (Trade, Association and Business Publications International), which sponsors the Tabbies b2b magazine editorial and design awards.
If you’ve ever booked a tour with an inbound operator for your clients and hesitated before sending payment overseas, 5Continents offers an alternative option, providing concierge-style travel services for agents that are guaranteed.
“5Continents was shaped by asking simple but important questions,” David Boigné, 5Continents’ managing partner, told PAX. “How can we better serve the Canadian travel trade, regardless of agent or tour operator? How can we make travel easier? How can we make it safer?”
The company hosted a dinner and networking event for about 50 guests at Vancouver’s Best Western Plus Chateau Granville on Sept. 19, part of a series of shows held across Canada to share its objectives with agents and operators.
“5Continents is the Canadian office for eight inbound operators, with more to come, in locations throughout the world,” said Boigné. "The aim is to offer customers the comfort and security of a team that truly knows the travel destination of choice and at a fair price point.
“For example, when dealing with a company that’s based in Turkey or Bulgaria, or whatever country it may be, and it’s time to send payment six or eight months ahead of the trip, this may be scary,” Boigne pointed out. “You may not always want to take that risk. And not everyone is comfortable dealing with different currencies.”
5Continents lets customers pay in whatever currency is ideal. “We have a trust account, which means the money is protected and used only to pay the suppliers related to the trip. So, there’s never a chance clients would go to a booked hotel that hasn’t been paid for or that the funds would be used elsewhere,” he said.
What inbound operators are saying
“5Continents is an ambassador for us,” explained Natalia Kataras Rivera, sales & marketing director with Athens Express, a travel agency in Greece. She had a display table at the Vancouver event. “The company helps us get into the Canadian market and there’s a strong element of trust there — for us and travellers.”
Rivera added that 5Continents provides more than just sales support. “David’s team offers a vast network, including experience, security and support. There are many advantages.”
5Continents allows international transactions for travel from the security of a North American company. Here are some of its key features:
- Business-regulated and consumer-protected by North American laws
- Competitive tariff levels
- Money deposited to in-trust accounts, in the currency of choice
- Net rates allow agents to control selling prices
“This is a brand-new concept,” said Coral Perry, area sales manager with Fiji Airways. “This type of specialization is what travel agents need right now. Travellers want to go all over the world and if you’re booking a trip to Fiji, for example, and have never been you want to talk to someone who has that you can trust.”
“If your client has a question, we have offices in Montreal, Vancouver, and in each destination offered, and can answer it. If they lost their passport, we have a support number they can call. If they want a different hotel room, we can help,” said Boigne. “Our goal is to provide a first-class customer service experience.”
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