Maritime Travel Heats Up Winter In Halifax

with Lindsay Kyte

Blair Jarrett, Senior Director of Marketing & Gary Gaudry, President, Maritime Travel

Joanne Fillion & Furman White, Sandals

Kathy Sutherland, Senior Travel Consultant/Branch Partner, Maritime Travel

As a winter storm blew through Halifax this past weekend, inside the World Trade & Convention Centre it was hot, hot, hot, with grass skirts flowing, bells ringing and summery displays featuring toy frogs croaking their welcomes. This was Maritime Travel’s 23rd Annual Vacation Superstore, Atlantic Canada’s largest travel show, which featured 75 Maritime Travel counsellors, and more than 100 travel representatives flying in from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and as far off as Asia to promote their destinations.

“We wanted to create a warm, tropical atmosphere, so there’s a big difference between outside and when you come in,” said Blair Jarrett, Senior Director of Marketing, Maritime Travel. “We also try to make it fun. There are a lot of cheesy elements to the show. We ring a bell every time someone books. We announce where they’re going and who they are. We take their picture and we have signs they hold up that say, ‘Goin’ on a cruise,’ ‘Headin’ south, ‘Just booked.’ People love that.” Jarrett said there was also a hashtag for this year’s event to create social media awareness, as well a large array of travel prizes given away.

“We were overwhelmed in the 1 st hour after we opened,” said Jarrett. “We give away 25 pieces of luggage for the 1 st 25 bookings of the day. And by the 1st 45 minutes, we were out.”

“Customers love it,” said Gary Gaudry, President, Maritime Travel. Some people make it into a day-long adventure with the kids as well.”

Supplier partners included Transat, Sunwing, Air Canada Vacations and Westjet Vacations, with a number of cruise lines represented as well. New to the event were Asia partners and tour operators covering travel to areas such as Thailand and China. Hotel chains and tourism boards were also represented.

Jarrett said the event sees a lot of repeat customers who book each year, along with lots of new faces: “A lot of folks know it’s a great spot to get a deal. It’s a really popular show. And we love it. If you’re flexible on your dates, you can score some pretty good deals.”

This show typically sees between 3,000 and 4,000 in attendance over its 2 days, said Jerrett, with door crasher specials and deals on cruises, European tours and river cruises proving to be especially popular. The 2016 show also saw a record number of travel experts attending.

Jarrett said he had mixed feelings about a snowstorm on the weekend of the show: “You wonder if it will make people want to book to get away from the snow, or if it will impede them getting to the show!”

Having followed up with Blair following the show, he had this to say: “Although Saturday’s storm emptied the room by early afternoon, our total sales for both days ended up being exactly the same as last year. Those who weathered the conditions to come were clearly serious. We’re thrilled with the sales results.”

This same event now travels to Moncton with a simultaneous event taking place in St. John’s. Maritime Travel is Atlantic Canada's largest travel agency group with 114 locations across Canada. 

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