Seven Brands Join Forces For Western Canada Agent Event

with Vickie Sam Paget

Road show features Sunwing, Carnival, Azamara, Playa, Kensington, Paul Gauguin and AmaWaterways.

A multi-supplier event at North Vancouver’s Holiday Inn & Suites enabled local travel professionals to get up to date with a wide-ranging group of seven well-known brands -- Sunwing, Carnival, Azamara, Playa, Kensington, Paul Gauguin and AmaWaterways. 

 United we stand: Azamara Club Cruises’ Eva Horne, Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Vicky Lubyk,
Carnival’s Cindy Chau, Sunwing’s Sofia Ferreira, Kensington Tours’ Elizabeth Story,
AmaWaterways’ Shauna Carter, and Playa Hotels & Resorts’ Freddie Marsh.

 “The goal for this event was to get access to the advisors that we don’t usually get access to,” explained Vicky Lubyk, Director of Sales for Western Canada at Paul Gauguin Cruises. “The range of suppliers presenting attracts a larger range of advisors.”

Lubyk was fundamental in the organization of this unique event, which saw 20-minute presentations from representatives from the eclectic group of suppliers.

The group’s series of events across Abbotsford, Coquitlam, North Vancouver and Richmond attracted some 400 agents, who clearly appreciated the opportunity. Here are the highlights of what each brand rep had to share.

Sofia Ferreira, British Columbia BDM at Sunwing

Ferreira took the opportunity to highlight the operator’s extensive flight schedule into Western Mexico and Cancun from Vancouver, as well as Swoop services from Abbotsford into Puerto Vallarta. 

Ferreira also placed the spotlight on Sunwing’s group program: “Why should you be booking groups with us? Because you only need 10 passengers to qualify – not 10 rooms. Also, the more groups you book, the more rewards you get. Our Platinum Club rewards your hard work with free air seats, excursion credits and extra legroom seats when you fly with us.”

AmaWaterways’ Shauna Carter with Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Vicky Lubyk.

Cindy Chau, Western Canada/Washington State BDM at Carnival 

Chau was enthusiastic about the Carnival Panorama, which was launched in December.

“She’s out of Long Beach on the West Coast,” Chau explained. “We haven’t had a new ship on the West Coast for 20 years, so it’s a big deal. If you guys are looking for a big ship and a short flight, this is definitely one to be looking at. She’s going to the Mexican Riviera on a seven day round trip, year round.”

Chau also expressed the importance of the Western Canadian market to the cruise line.

“The West Coast is a huge market for us and we’re really invested in bringing ships over here. We’ve brought the Carnival Miracle over here and we’ve opened up two new ports, San Diego and San Francisco. The itineraries are a really big mix, which is great because people are often looking for something different. We have Hawaii and the Panama Canal and it’s not going to cost your client a fortune.”

Eva Horne, Strategic BDM in West Canada for Azamara Club Cruises

Horne was pleased to share how several ports of call in Vancouver by the Azamara Quest over the summer had been received by the industry.

“We had the Azamara Quest in Vancouver five times, and I heard it again and again and again: ‘Gosh, you’re the best kept secret out there!’”

She also highlighted the cruise line’s focus on “destination immersion.”

“We really are laser focussed on ensuring that when we take our clients into ports, we’re giving them the opportunity to take time. We offer more overnights and we include night tours, because when you go to places in like Venice or Dublin, we know that they come alive after 8 o’clock at night. 

“Azamara is all about destination immersion. We’re not just a vehicle that takes you from port to port. We’re so much more than that.”

Freddie Marsh, BDM for Western Canada at Playa Hotels & Resorts

Marsh, who represents Hyatt Zilara & Hyatt Ziva, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Panama Jack Resorts, Jewel Resorts Jamaica and Sanctuary Cap Cana under the Playa Hotels & Resorts umbrella, showcased the company’s brand new adult-only Hyatt Zilara and family-friendly Hyatt Ziva in Cap Cana.

“These are our two brand new resorts that just opened in November in Cap Cana, which is known as the Beverly Hills of the Dominican Republic,” he enthused. “They are complete new-builds on an unbelievable beach, and as twin resorts, we are offering exchange privileges between the two. 

“One of the things I noticed when I visited last month is that they are total five star properties,” he added. “The smallest room is over 600-square-feet and they’re all beautifully decorated. 95% of our rooms have some kind of ocean view as all of the rooms face into the interior of the property and over to the beach.” 

Sandra Gasparac, travel consultant at Doma Travel and Cruise with
Seeyad Popat, senior vacation consultant at HB Vacations.

Elizabeth Story, Director of Sales, Canada & International, Kensington Tours

Story emphasized that travel agents should not be afraid of customized travel.

“We provide privately guided customized travel to over 95 countries and there are no pre-set departure dates or set itineraries. What we do have are hundreds of ideas in the destination that your client is asking for,” she explained. 

“Our trips are for people who do not want to hop onto a bus with 100 other people. You can bring us a group of people and we’ll be very happy to customize a trip for them, but we’re not going to put your customers into a large group of strangers.

“Don’t be afraid of customized travel. You may not have been to a destination, but we have. We put together proposals that have your name and logo on them. They look amazing and we produce them within 24 to 48 hours – guaranteed – and we can re-do them as many times as you want.

Story also explained that the operator has recently expanded its offering in North America and has launched a private yacht program. 

Vicky Lubyk, Director of Sales for Western Canada at Paul Gauguin Cruises

Lubyk was excited about the advancements at Paul Gauguin Cruises following its recent purchase by Ponant. 

“The best thing about being owned by Ponant right now is that they have tons of money and they’re willing to spend it on our brand, which is great!” she enthused.

“In May we’re doing a $21 million dry dock. To give you an idea, the dry dock we did in 2012 was $6 million. The Paul Gauguin will look like a brand new ship. And in 2022 we will have two new vessels with 230 guests on board sailing in French Polynesia.”

Lubyk also highlighted the company’s commitment to the environment.

“On the two new ships, all emissions will cease for 10 hours each day. They will be the cleanest-run ships in the world and that’s a great thing for Paul Gauguin.”

Kensington Tours’ Elizabeth Story with Krista Page, travel consultant at Travel Best Bets.

Shauna Carter, AmaWaterways

Carter was keen to share news on the latest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet, the AmaMagna, which launched last May.

“Even though this ship is twice as large as any river ship out there, it still only hosts 190 guests at full capacity,” she explained. “It’s a suite-style ship and it opens up a whole new demographic to river cruising.”

The cruise line, which currently offers 34 itineraries on 12 rivers, enjoyed its best year ever in 2019, thanks in part to the fact that it doesn’t sell directly to market – it only sells via travel partners.

“We don’t do anything without our travel partners. You solely are the reason we continue to grow,” Carter added.

Vickie Sam Paget

Vickie Sam Paget Western Correspondent

Hailing from the UK, Vickie Sam Paget is a travel and tourism storyteller located in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not on the road, creating engaging travel content or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.

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