Transat is set to offer its franchised locations the option of rebranding to Transat Travel or Voyages Transat after an 18 month, 17 location pilot project in corporate-owned agencies was deemed a success.
“The program is showing itself to be a winner. We're very, very pleased with the results to date," says Joe Adamo, General Manager, Transat Distribution Canada. “The test locations enjoyed increased traffic and bookings across the board for all suppliers."
Transat has over 70 wholly-owned agencies across the country, branded as Club Voyages in Quebec and Marlin Travel in the rest of the country. Adamo says most of those locations will be rebranded as Voyages Transat or Transat Travel over the next couple of years.
Transat Distribution's retail network is mostly made up of franchised locations – over 450 of them – and Adamo says they will also be offered the option of rebranding.
Adamo says initial responses from franchisees has been “very enthusiastic," after they learned about the results from the test locations – 6 in Quebec, 9 in Ontario and 2 in Western Canada.
“This will not suit everyone, it's a different way of operating," Adamo says. “And the Marlin and Club Voyages brand are not going anywhere. But during the test consumers noticed and they liked the change and the fresh, modern look. The branding appears to be pretty effective. We like where it's going."
Rebranding of retail locations is just one element in Transat Distribution's efforts to keep up with a fast-changing “distribution eco-system," which is being driver by consumer behaviour, Adamo says. “We're looking to better serve today's consumer, who typically visits several touch-points before booking travel. Our vision is to integrate all those touch-points – online, call centre and physical stores – under the Transat brand. That way consumers could seamlessly toggle from one touch-point to another."
It's not just a branding exercise, Adamo stresses. “We're looking to be in step with what the consumer does, to get the best from each channel and serve it up on consumer terms. To do that, we want to integrate our distribution assets and make the process as seamless as possible."
Adamo cites some concrete examples of how this distribution integration could work. “If a customer visits an agency first, then books online or through the call centre, the agency should be recognized with commission," Adamo says. “We're also looking at routing call centre traffic to agency locations during business hours. It's very early days but the potential is tremendous."
Adamo says he doesn't expect pushback from other tour operators and suppliers due to the Transat retail branding. “During the pilot project, numbers were up across the board, not just for Transat brands. That's what matters to the partners of our retailers."
Transat's origins were in retail, Adamo points out, but the company is only now beginning to use the Transat brand in its retail locations. “We believe that having a consistent brand presence can pull up the whole brand."