Genial MC and Senior V.P. Sunquest & Holiday House Nino Montagnese
Party on! Jane Clementino, director of sales WestJet & Diane Lattavo, V.P.Air at TravelBrands
Open Jaw’s Nina Slawek with TravelBrands product guru Wayne Noseworthy
Jason Swaye of Vision Travel & Vacation.com’s Christine James
If you’re a Toronto area travel agent and weren’t at the TravelBrands bash here on Tuesday, you had to be one of the few. Some 750 agents showed up (one coming from as far away as Sudbury) to the cavernous Congress Centre to hear about the “new” company and to schmooze with 70 tourist board, airlines and hotel exhibitors.
To be honest, a lot of agents told me they were there out of curiosity, to see if TravelBrands had emerged unscathed from its recent financial woes. But by the evening’s end, it was clear that they, and the suppliers, had been won over.
“The turnout’s great, the energy is good – this company has been ‘raised from the ashes’,” Dan Hamilton of the JTB told me. “Top drawer – the best trade show I’ve ever attended,” added industry veteran Dale Pusching of Breezes resorts. “Just like the old days,” another remarked.
Part of the reason for the evening’s success was the number of changes and improvements that have been made with powerhouse CEO Zeina Gedeon at the helm. Too many to list here, so we’ll go with the ones that resonated most (by show of applause) with the crowd:
Processes have been streamlined - there’s now one number to call for air, customer relations, groups, ticketing – and soon one number for all 8 brands.
Webinars are now recorded and accessible at any time on their site
Instant group quotes in just 20 seconds including a choice of gateways and hotels
24/7 helpline – for consumers
Brochures are back (“The sales team was killed when we didn’t have them”) and there’s a new Access Agent Guide full of tips including the company’s Facebook page Your TravelBrands BDM featuring instant access to the sales team and expertise of fellow agents
From April 7th to May 14th, there’s an extra 1% commission on packages, FIT and cruise, 3% more on car rentals and 20% off merchandise with the company’s loyalty points program (applause and whooping sounds here)
“Everyone has been listening over the past 9 months and I’m in awe and honoured at the turnout tonight,” an effusive Gedeon told the crowd. “We in the industry have grown up with such brands as Holiday House and Intair – so thank you for standing by us.”