Bravely Into The Heart Of Scotland With WestJet

with Nina Slawek

WS party Halifax's historic Grand Parade square

Taste testing some herbed infusions at the Tangled Garden outside YHZ

At the Glengoyne Distillery: Louis Gosselin, Brett Jerrett, Jim Morrison, Jen Audas & Lyell Farquharson

Gregg Saretsky proudly wearing the WestJet Tartan.

Windswept at EDI castle

WestJet's second foray into pond-hopping began with blanketing YHZ in the carrier's custom tartan design. Billboards were scattered around the city and on the day of the inaugural flight Halifax's historic Grand Parade square played host to a Scottish cèilidh complete with WS ticket draws.

The day before, travel agents were treated to a cocktail gathering complete with haggis and scotch tastings (guess which had the longest line?). But would all this fanfare be enough to fill daily 737 flights to GLA?

A small group of journalists and travel agents were invited to tag along, soak up a little Scotland and report back to our various mother ships. By all accounts, Glaswegians can expect to see an influx of their trans-Atlantic cousins.

On the agent side, Blair Jerrett, Senior Director, Marketing, Maritime Travel says he will have to push out a number of marketing initiatives to support the daily frequency. But he expects success.

“There's lots of opportunity to sell to my clients. We are a strong influencer in the Maritimes, and the expectation that the majority of sales will come from NS makes sense. The ties between new and old Scotland are strong."

Jerrett says Maritime Travel already sells a lot of Scotland flights and packages without specifically focusing on the destination.

“So a direct flight will make all the difference. Maritimers hate flying west when they want to go east! We get very excited about non-stop service."

WS CEO Gregg Saretsky underlined the importance of the new route by accompanying the group, along with other senior WestJetters including VP Sales Lyell Farquharson.

“With our reputation for hospitality, it comes through when the entire team is here to set the stage," Saretsky said. “I appreciate the opportunity to meet with the trade on both sides of the Atlantic. And being here shows the importance of the route to our frequent flyers, to the travel trade, to the media. We are putting a lot of effort behind making this a success."

Lyell Farquharson, Vice-President, Sales and Business Development at WestJet, says low pricing on the route will stimulate demand. “We're also supporting the trade with co-op marketing such as direct mail programs with retail partners."

For TPI travel consultant Sandy Smith, seeing is believing. “If you experience a product, you can sell it. After coming back from a trip like this, you have a passion for it. For instance, I'm already planning some honeymoon and anniversary packages to Cameron House on Loch Lomond. The five-star Baronial Mansion with its 4-poster Whisky Suites will be a real draw. I now feel very confident about selling Scotland and I'll be sharing this with other TPI agents during our group meeting."

Jim Morrison, Vice President, Goway was along on the trip, with the goal of expanding the company's already voluminous product lineup.

“It's no secret Europe is latest piece of the Goway puzzle. We are looking at little modules and Ireland and Scotland are a good fit. The price point is attractive and we can create interesting and unique itineraries to suit a Goway customer. We already sell effectively in the maritime region. So to start a European program with direct air, I'm sure we will see the support."

Jen Audas, Corporate Travel Consultant with Carlson Wagonlit Travel says she sees two distinct benefits from the new WS service.

“For corporate agents it's great and I can see myself also selling leisure after this trip!"

Glasgow is a very family-friendly city, with free museums featuring interactive kids' areas where little ones can touch and learn. The architecture is gorgeous too. And Scotland is small by Canadian standards, but there's a huge variety of topographical landscapes. WS guests can travel to Edinburgh by train in less than an hour, and the highlands and islands are just a few scenic hours away by car.

“This is definitely the beginning of a beautiful friendship," said Moira Dyer, Senior Marketing Communications Manager, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.

“The city of Glasgow is very excited to be working with WestJet and with the team at the Nova Scotia tourist board. There is a natural affinity between the two populations and we look forward to growing the market."

One thing this observer noted on the trip was the tremendous spirit of the WestJet teams charged with the inaugural program. These are kind and dedicated folks who clearly revel in the company's successes.

Busking Glaswegian style

Cameron House from the Loch Lomond

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