CWT Is "Going Places" With Virtuoso Partnership & Brand Refresh
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw
Mark Stubbert, Senior Director of North American Operations
(left) and Una O'Leary, Senior Director, Marketing & Supplier
Management with CWT.
Cynthia Landry, Sales Training Specialist with Rocky Mountaineer.
L-R: Charlotte Antill, Lina Côté and Tanya States with TravelBrands.
L-R: Michele D. Martinson, Sales Director Canada, and Cesar
Alvarenga, Ontario Market Manager with AeroMexico.
Ramses Pulido, Director TN Sales Management North America with Sabre.
CWT hosted its annual Leisure Trade Event over the weekend, bringing together 50 supplier partners and 220 travel professionals, business owners and managers together at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel & Conference Centre to learn about the company and where it's heading.
"With so many changes that are happening, this is the opportunity for us to ensure that we're engaging the network so that they truly understand why we're making some of these changes and how it's important to them because they're the ones that are taking that story to the client," says Mark Stubbert, senior director of North American operations.
With this year's theme of #We'reGoingPlaces, the company was excited to announce a few significant changes to its business model.
First off, it has been working on a rebrand that took a big step forward back in February with the announcement of a name change: the company rebranded from Carlson Wagonlit Travel to simply CWT as an overarching brand, along with a new logo.
The motivation behind it is branching out of the "sea of sameness," says Una O'Leary, senior director, Marketing & Supplier Management.
"We wanted to differentiate ourselves against our friendly competitors, so we needed to change our voice. We were very much about the company on the corporate side of the business, but the focus now has shifted from our corporate organizations to really focusing on their employees," O'Leary told Open Jaw.
The brand has even coined a new acronym, B2B4E – business-to-business-for-employees. You're probably familiar with the B2B – business-to-business – acronym, but with B2B4E, CWT says it is focused not only on managing client travel, but also taking an extra step in connecting people and helping business succeed.
"We are focused very much on the traveller experience, so part of our new name, the new brand and the new look is giving them new channels and new opportunities to be able to communicate with us," says O'Leary.
In other news, CWT has entered into a partnership with the Virtuoso luxury travel network, building on a relationship that Carlson Wagonlit Travel started 22 years ago in the US.
"We are very excited to say we are the only consortium within a consortia. That has provided us with greater value and opportunity for our advisors to be able to offer to their clients," says O'Leary.
It was a jam-packed three days at the CWT leisure travel gathering, full of training, presentations, a trade show and workshops that helped attendees learn about these changes, the brand, product and what it means for their business.
Graham Sherman, co-owner of Tool Shed Brewing Company, was invited as guest speaker this year. The artisan beer brewer embodied CWT's focus of storytelling and putting the client at the centre of all it does.
"His message completely resonated with us because some of our key messages are about family and building a community that is supportive," says O'Leary. "He talked about his passion for the business and about not giving up. He also talked about the power of social media and about taking risks. His message was that as business owners, you always have to think outside of the box and shift with time."
On Saturday night, a disco-themed dinner and awards celebration recognized key companies and individuals.
"It's an opportunity to make sure that we stop for a second and recognize the great accomplishments that the network has provided," says Stubbert, "and to do it in front of their peers and colleagues is really important."
Besides handing out awards in categories recognizing, among others, preferred supplier support, top agency, top branch, year-over-year growth and – a new one this year -- social media, CWT also congratulated Peterborough-based Stewart Travel Group for 25 years with the network.
Toronto was CWT's third stop on the travel road tour, having hosted events in Vancouver and Saint-Sauveur the past two weekends. Next stop is south of the border to Minneapolis.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.