It’s a great sign when a well-developed and famous destination draws hundreds of travel agents to a training event. Clearly there’s lots going on, lots of enhancements and lots to learn.
Always happy to talk about MCO: Tom Valley
That’s why 300 agents turned out on a rainy evening in Toronto to soak up the news from Orlando. To be followed by similar evenings planned in Ottawa and Montreal, the event brought together agents from all over the GTA to meet 14 suppliers and one astronaut (more about that later).
I took advantage of all that MCO know-how to ask the suppliers about what’s new.
The biggest travel trade development with Visit Orlando, according to Tom Valley who is the genial Travel Industry Sales Director, is the revamped Orlando Training Academy. Launched this past summer, the seven-module/two-hour program is, he thinks, one-stop shopping for education, sample itineraries, trip planning assistance and even VR (virtual reality goggles not needed). Bonus: once you have completed it, you’re eligible for 50% off major attractions, significant hotel discounts and deals in shopping and dining.
AtAir Canada Vacations, the ‘Orlando Promise’ was announced just 2 weeks ago. According to Area Sales Manager Juan Contreras Aragon, this is a game changer which includes: deposit of just $50 per person; cancel with a full refund (including deposit) up to 7 days before travel; and ACV will honour a price drop difference up to 7 days before travel.
Sunwing’s Lorraine Brisbois, Senior BDM GTA, told me that the operator’s hotel line up in MCO is more than impressive: a whopping 41 properties including many brand names such as Disney, Universal, Sheraton, Hard Rock and Holiday Inn.
Randy Anger, who has been promotingSeaWorldto Canadians for over 30 years, suggests the discounts available for Canadian residents at SeaWorld and its sister parks Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Discovery Cove are great sales closers: $25 off a single park or $80 off two parks.
But I must say it was hard to ignore the massive line up by the Kennedy Space Center table. Astronaut Don Thomas was on hand for photos, autographs and brief reminiscences about his four journeys to space and 692 orbits. Your clients can have a similar experience when they book the Dine With An Astronaut event at the Space Center.
Don Thomas, star attraction
Travel agents get to meet a lot of cool people but I must say they were as happy as little kids to meet Don. Even if his kind of travel is non-commissionable.
Randy Anger, longtime Seaworld fan
WestJet’s Andrei Losinski
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.