Staying true to its commitment to excellence, Air Canada Vacations went all out with its Jamaica MegaFAM, a four-day trip this fall from 14-17 NOV.
Responding to demand from travel agents nationwide, this event brought together over 130 agents across Canada, united by a common goal to view product. Accompanied by the staff of Air Canada Vacations, this dynamic group embarked on a remarkable journey aboard an Air Canada Rouge flight bound for Montego Bay.
When most suppliers are slowing down on MegaFAMS, ACV is doing the opposite. Why?
Marigold Frontuna, ACV GM Sales for Western Canada shares, "These special trips show our commitment to the industry when ACV takes an aircraft out of the regular rotation and dedicates it to travel agents.”
Over 130 agents embraced to the lush islands of Jamaica to showcase the destination, inviting agents to get up close with all the destination has to offer and more. These valued experiences they are selling. Especially now, post-COVID, there are so many new agents and many independent reps eager to woo travelers looking for a sun holiday with special touches to suit their needs. That's why it's super important for agents to go on familiarization trips—just getting the feel of the product and the destination so they can showcase all the benefits in a warm and inviting way to their valued customers who are seeking their guidance, " she added.
Earlier in the year, ACV held a MegaFAM in Curacao, and this fall, Jamaica is the destination of choice for another MegaFAM.
Why Jamaica? The reasons are simple as explained by Erminia Nigro, ACV General Manager Sales. "We've noticed a significant uptick, especially in destinations like Jamaica, with a flurry of new changes, updates, and renovations. When making decisions, we often reach out to our partners, asking the right questions to ensure we make the best choices. Our collaboration with hotel partners and Island Routes has been particularly close, so we confidently declare this as our pick of the year."
Dan Hamilton, the Jamaica Tourism Board's (JTB) district sales manager for Canada, was at the MegaFAM to assist with all aspects of the tour. He mentioned, "Jamaica is not just your warm-weather destination. We're also a destination with warm hearts. Our greatest asset here is our friendly people who care for your clients. " He also mentioned that Air Canada's year-round solid airlift is one of the most vital selling points for visiting Jamaica.
There are numerous Air Canada Rouge flights out of Montreal and Toronto to Montego Bay and Kingston almost on a daily basis.
Travel Agent Perspective
With agents from across the country attending this MegaFam from Vancouver to Newfoundland, it's intriguing to understand their motivations for joining the trip. Their consensus was remarkably similar.
If you familiarize yourself with the properties, then you can better advise your clients where to book.
Karla Haygarth, Travel Only, Alamedia, Saskatchewan
I joined this megaFAM to become more familiar with the ACV products and Jamaica product offerings so I can better serve my clients beyond what WestJet offers.
Cathy Sproule-Matieshin, Artistic Travel, Calgary, Alberta.
As a seasoned travel agent with multiple trips to Jamaica in her portfolio, she was eager to explore ACV's latest product offerings and witness Jamaica's evolving resort landscapes.
Mike Allard, Certified Travel Counsellor, Mallard Travel, Sudbury, Ontario
"What is it about Jamaica? I think Jamaica as a country has done a brilliant job of marketing itself worldwide. People know the culture, the passion, the pride. The minute you see those colours, you know, there's something special, and their pride in their heritage is remarkable. So, coming on, this MegaFAM allows me to see properties that I can bring my clients to because they already know about the Jamaican people and their culture. Still, they want to know where to stay and enjoy everything."
Managing this many agent tours and 3-night stays at various hotel properties is quite a feat of organization. ACV's strategic planning divided the participants into three groups—Teams A, B, C, each comprising 30-40 people. Notably, one group was exclusively dedicated to addressing the growing Quebec market. Nick Theriault, ACV area sales manager for Montreal and northern Quebec, oversaw the French group (Group B).
Playa Hotels and Resorts, a valued strategic partner for the ACV and ACV MegaFAM, had the dedicated support on hand of Andi Bacho, the Business Development Manager for Ontario. Playa resorts on the tour included the luxurious Hyatt Ziva and Zilara, the enchanting Jewel Grande, and the elegant Hilton Rose Hall.
Takeaways for Travel Agents from Educational Sessions
- Air Canada Vacations is keen on sustainability; no brochures or papers were handed out to agents during training sessions. Everything is available online.
- Toolkits are available for agents, providing information on airlines' destinations and gateways. The data is updated regularly.
- Book your groups if they are fewer than 20 people. Multigenerational family holidays and wedding parties are heating group travel demands. Group travel systems are being improved. Agents will be offered a 3% commission for self-booking.
- ACV Destination Service representatives are available on the ground to assist clients who need help or have questions about their vacations. WhatsApp is the best way to connect with the destination representative.
- Europe is a hot destination for 2024; many hotels are already sold out. ACV has increased the portfolio of offerings for Portugal, France, Italy and other popular spots.
- ACV offers Car rentals across the globe. Visit ACV for details. Pricing is competitive.
- Travel within Canada and the United States is growing. ACV offers weekend getaway options agents should explore.
- For cruise travel ACV offers Flight and Hotel options to cruise embarkation points.
Based on the feedback from ACV staff and agents, it is clear that yet another successful MegaFam has come to a close. For more information visit vacations.aircanada.com