Never Too Soon: Transat Previews Its Winter Sun Offer
with Bruce Parkinson
Marketing Director Erin Oddleifson, Senior Director Finance & Administration Nathalie Boyer, Commercial Director Nicole Bursey and Mary Santonato, Director, Group Sales.
Chief Distribution Officer Joe Adamo, Commercial Director Nicole Bursey and Air TransatAir Transat Vice President Commercial Gilles Ringwald.
Dan Prior,Sales Manager, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, with Elizabeth Grundon, Business Analyst for TRAVELSAVERS Canada.
TripCentral.ca VP Business Development Paul Foster with Nathalie Boyer and Ensemble Travel Group Co-President Lindsay Pearlman.
Yes, the calendar still says spring, but Transat has its eyes clearly focused on another fiercely competitive Canadian winter. And the company is positive about its prospects.
Transat Chief Distribution Officer and TDC President Joe Adamo says Transat is “more than holding its own” this summer with strong sales on both transatlantic and south programs. That fact, along with additions to its winter program and the ongoing arrival of new, more efficient aircraft, is giving the operator confidence.
Speaking to a gathering of key partners at Toronto’s Sassafraz restaurant, Adamo, Transat Tours Canada Commercial Director Nicole Bursey and Air Transat Vice President Commercial Gilles Ringwald offered a preview of the winter program, as presented in the nearly 400-page 2018/2019 Sun & Funbrochure.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights:
Thirty-four warm-weather destinations.
More than 600 hotels, including 30 new ones.
Expanded Luxury, Distinction, Solo and Family Collections.
A return to San Juan and St. Maarten, rebuilt and improved after last year’s hurricanes.
An expanded domestic program to feed South and Europe flights from YUL and YYZ.
The addition of Princess Cruises to Transat’s air and cruise program.
‘Winter in Europe’ options added to winter brochure for the first time.
An earlier (mid-FEB) start to winter south flights from Atlantic Canada.
An extension of early booking incentives to 13JUL.
South capacity will be essentially flat this winter, and the transatlantic program is very similar to last winter. A major change is the addition of more domestic feeder flights giving travellers from other parts of Canada convenient connections to a broader range of both southern and Europe destinations. Adamo says the strategy is paying dividends.
“The feeder program has been instrumental in delivering two near-record summer seasons. We want to use that playbook for winter as well and it’s an area where we truly need your support.”
Transat has offered popular winter programs to Spain and Portugal for years now, but they will have higher profile after being added to the main winter brochure for the first time. Golf packages are among the options to go along with the pleasant temperatures of winter on the Iberian Peninsula.
A cruise brochure will be released in the coming weeks, but Transat is excited about the addition of Princess Cruises packages, a new embarkation point in Cartagena, Colombia, and a return to San Juan after a year off as Puerto Rico recovered from last year’s hurricanes. Together, Transat will offer 46 air/cruise packages on 16 ships departing from seven ports.
“Getting Princess on board is a real coup for us,” Bursey said. “They don’t usually work with tour operators in Canada.”
Air Transat’s fleet renewal program continues, with new A321 single-aisle short-haul aircraft joining the fleet this year. But Adamo is most excited about the 2019 arrival of the first of 10 A321neo long-range birds. Transat will be the first North American carrier to fly this plane, which will offer enhanced efficiency and the longest range of any narrow-body on the market.
“We will have a fantastic product,” Adamo says. “This plane is a game-changer for the economics of our company. We can use it on many transatlantic routes as well as sun flights.”
The Transat exec told retail partners in the room that the company is eager to talk about goals for 2019 sales, and the sales team is hitting the road earlier than ever.
“Very soon we’ll be coming to you and asking how we can grow your business in 2019.”
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.