Celebrating at the TPI event: Morris Chia, Sevi Anagnostis of WestJet Vacations, AM Resorts’ Brian Joseph and TPI’s Zeina Gedeon.
Ian Smyth, NCL; Erminia Nigro, Travel Brands and Phillip Solomon, Tourcan Vacations
Rick McCauley, Barcelo Hotels & Resorts and Deana Murphy, Sunwing
Brian Joseph, AM Resorts; Susan Lawson Allianz Global Assistance and Nino Montagnese, ACV
Toronto’s trendy Distillery District was buzzing on
Wednesday night, and not just with tourists and theatre-goers. There was a gaggle of travel industry types
too, thanks to TPI’s get together to recognize its suppliers.
Some 40 folks, representing airlines, tour operators,
tourist boards and travel trade media assembled with TPI hosts including founder Maurice Chia, CEO Zeina Gideon, Partnership Director Colton Chia and
Caroline Hay, Director of Sales/Ontario.
“We used to invite our suppliers to join us for a getaway at
Lake-of-the-Woods,” Maurice said, recalling days when TPI was headquartered
in Winnipeg. But clearly, especially as the group of TPI independent agents
grows, it makes more sense to hold the event in Toronto.
Appreciative (and appreciated) faces in the crowd included
execs from Sunwing, WestJet Vacations, Air Canada Vacations, Transat, the
Globus family of brands, Tourcan, Collette, AMResorts, Sandals, Cuba and St.
Lucia Tourist Boards, TravelBrands and luxury travel agency network Virtuoso,
represented by their new Canada rep Tim Morgan, until recently a TPI exec himself.
“In all, we’re now just over 500 travel advisors, with a
head office of 48,” Colton said. “This coming winter is shaping up to be
excellent, particularly on the luxury side where we see the real growth
opportunity.” About a third of the
advisors are in the West, one third in Ontario and the remaining third in
Atlantic Canada. “We’re not in Quebec –
yet! – but we are developing the infrastructure.”
As Gino Riola of Allianz said, “We have a long-standing
relationship with TPI – they’ve been one of our strongest partners and we look
forward to that relationship continuing.”
Up next? TPI’s 25th anniversary. And you can bet the folks have
something special up their sleeve!
Colton Chia addressing the crowd
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.