“We Will be Valued More Than Ever”
Toronto’s Travel Market Place Speakers Convey Message of Quiet Optimism

Wendy Paradis, ACTA President
Wendy Paradis, ACTA President

It was almost like old times (but with masks) as some 320 travel advisors and suppliers convened at the Delta Marriott Toronto Airport on Tuesday. Attending the 2-day Travel Market Place East 2021, participants were clearly enjoying the chance to meet, mingle, and get psyched up for the days to come.

As emcee Doug Patterson put it, “Everyone here is committed to getting the industry back.”

Certainly if the presence of industry heavy hitters was anything to go by, the Marketplace East was a definite success. ACTA President Wendy Paradis opened the general session, with a thoughtful speech indicating that “We will focus on building a better future together – it will be 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, but recovery is near.” As she told me later, regarding the Omnicrom variant, “So far, we are fortunate in Canada in that our government is taking a measured response to the new variant and waiting for the science.”

Read more...
Panel with Travel Market Report’s Daniel McCarthy; Mike Foster of Nexion; Louise Gardiner of TTAND; Ensemble’s David Harris and Steve Phillips of TRAVELSAVERS.
Panel with Travel Market Report’s Daniel McCarthy; Mike Foster of Nexion; Louise Gardiner of TTAND; Ensemble’s David Harris and Steve Phillips of TRAVELSAVERS.

A panel included senior industry execs such as David Harris of Ensemble, who reiterated a common theme: “Keep calm. We’ve seen frustration and even desperation. But it’s important to have a plan, to communicate with your clients and stay optimistic. Remember what it was like to recover from 9/11?”

Steve Phillips of TRAVELSAVERS agreed, adding that the immediacy of today’s media can be a challenge. “But this is a part of our near future, if not for years to come. Listen to the science: your clients’ fears are real. Guide them through the process and be there for them when they want to commit.”

“You can’t just deliver the information, they need you to interpret it for them,” he added.

Louise Gardner of The Agency Solution by The Travel Agent Next Door had the audience chuckling as she recalled the early days of Covid, taking delivery of her groceries in her garage and wiping them down with Clorox wipes. As she put it, “we all know this business is not the business it was 20 months ago. But we will and are adapting.”

Nexion’s Mike Foster suggested communicating with clients the way they want – email, phone, whatever they want. But do stay in touch. And be calm. “And remember, agents who are travelling are the busiest agents.”

VisionDirect Travel at the trade show with Joelle Goldman, Jennifer Strazzeri and Stephen Smith greeting agents
VisionDirect Travel at the trade show with Joelle Goldman, Jennifer Strazzeri and Stephen Smith greeting agents

The theme of travel advisors travelling came up again and again. Clearly if you yourself are hesitant to travel, how can you expect your clients to commit? Those I spoke with who have ventured out into the world tell me their clients are inspired by them and feel confident about taking the plunge themselves.

When asked who is charging service fees, about ¼ of the room raised their hands. Louise Gardiner’s reaction? “You are doing so much work you are not being paid for. Clients today are ready to pay service charges.”

Zeina Gideon and Andrea Balson Carr manning the TPI booth
Zeina Gideon and Andrea Balson Carr manning the TPI booth

“This will be the best time ever in our industry,” echoed Mike Foster. “We will be valued more than ever before. We just need to get where we are going.”

Martha Chapman

Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions series as well as special seasonal series. She can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

Girls’ Trip on the French Riviera at The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel
Four Seasons Launches New Hotel Package Inspired by ‘Emily in Paris’ TV Series
The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel has launched "Girls’ Trip on the French Riviera," a new package inspired by ...
OWG Airline
Direct Flights To Cuba With Hola Sun And OWG!
Escape to Cuba with Hola Sun on its exclusive airline OWG - offering 4 weekly direct flights to Cayo Santa Maria, ...
More Office Openings, Staff, Streamlined Process: Ottawa Tackles Half-Million Passport Applications
Service Canada is reopening all of its passport service counters across the country, and opening select offices on Saturdays, as well ...
Windstar's Star Pride
Windstar Cruises Cancels Asia and Adds Tahiti Sailings
Windstar becomes the latest cruise line to cancel Asia in the coming season, citing 'continued uncertainty' about ports in the region ...
From left to right: Dave Bourdages, Vice President, In-Flight Services and Customer Experience, Transat; Bernard Côté, Director, Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media, Transat; Joseph Adamo, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Transat; and Stéphane Lapierre, Vice President, Air Operations and Development, Aéroports de Montréal.
Air Transat Begins California Service with Direct Flights from YUL to LAX
Flights to LAX will be operated until the end of OCT 2022 three times weekly. On 19MAY, Air Transat will also ...

Leave a Reply