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.
September may bring shorter days but for Air Canada Vacations (ACV), the month kicked off with the unveiling of its annual Sun Collection.
Fresh off its launch event in Calgary Tuesday night, ACV informed and entertained nearly 350 travel agents and more than 40 suppliers at the Delta Hotels Burnaby Conference Centre in Burnaby, BC, last night (Sept. 11th) as part of its travelling ACV DreamMakers roadshow.
“For winter, we’ve increased our capacity by 11 per cent with better departure dates and more weekend departures than ever before,” shared Dana Gain, ACV’s senior director of sales, groups & partnerships, during the evening’s opening presentation.
Guests first enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while networking with a variety of ACV trade partners. Many had displays with brochures and information.
“Take Vancouver to Mexico, for example,” continued Gain. “There are now flights to Cancun, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas. Plus, we’re offering more direct flights than ever before to ensure ease of travel.”
READ MORE: "Their success is our success:" ACV's DreamMakers Tour welcomes Calgary agents
An exciting new collection
The full 2019-2020 Collection offers travellers a host of new packages in more than 750 hotels, most of which are all-inclusive, and more than 100 cruises. There’s a reason the new Sun Collection earned the hashtag: #ACVDreamMakers.
“Although we’re launching these amazing new packages, our biggest message this year is that we’re listening to travel agents and our trade partners, and we hear them,” Gain told PAX. “This event is about thanking them for their support and service. I say service because our partners provide us with the insight needed to best serve the end-users, the travellers.”
For service out west, this means an aggressive growth strategy, according to Marigold Frontuna, GM of sales with ACV, Western Canada. “Because the west typically doesn’t have the same lift as the eastern market, we’re focusing on connectivity — which is now offered in 63 cities across Canada. However, connectivity also means getting the right aircraft into the right market depending on demand. We’re listening to what’s needed and where.”
Along with more flights, ACV has extended its service hours. “Although our call centre is based in eastern Canada, we are cognizant of the different time zones, and are open longer hours and on weekends to serve better,” said Frontuna.
“We’ve also launched a new Facebook page to enhance communication with our trade partners, and a new website,” added Gain. She said it will include an agent portal, starting in Q1 of 2020.
How agents can benefit
During an on-stage presentation (where guests were served movie-style popcorn), Gain highlighted other benefits from the Sun Collection, including:
A new ACV&ME loyalty program: Travel agents can expect additional loyalty perks. For example, those who book hotels and groups will receive 600 points per room for packages of seven nights or more, 400 points per room for packages of three to six nights and 300 points per passenger for group bookings.
An enhanced Spotlight Collection…with a new U.S. and Cruise Spotlight Collection: Agents can offer travellers free standard seat selection, $20 in-flight meal credit (per passenger) and other bonuses at participating hotels in California, Hawaii and Las Vegas. Packages must be booked by Oct. 31, 2020. For select Carnival sailings, cruisers can receive Canadian resident rates, category upgrades, reduced deposits and more.
A new Cruise Promise: “If travellers find a flight with Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge at a lower price for their cruise airfare at the time of booking, we’ll pay for the full flight!” said Gain. This program also features zero deposits on flights when booked up to 30 days before departure.
Careflex and Carefree travel: For as low as $59, ACV’s comprehensive travel protection plans include free seat selection, year-round price drop guarantee, a $50 waiver and more. “The Careflex and Carefree plans are ideal for those clients who prefer to forgo full travel insurance,” explained Frontuna “And agents will earn 15 per cent commission.”
Group travel: Book a group of ten passengers and a $500 deposit is all that’s needed now to hold up to 20 more passengers.
For Chris Rollinson, co-president of the travel site Escapes.ca, group programs are a big plus. “Our wedding packages have been growing every year, so support from our suppliers —such as ACV— is essential to ensure those plans go smoothly, regardless of deviations.” Deviations can mean last-minute additions to the guest list or attendees flying to the wedding from different regions of the country.
“Our goal is to be as flexible and supportive as possible,” said Gain. “We appreciate that there are a lot of choices out there and we want to be the easiest company to do business with.”
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