(l - r)Soran Prasad, Goway; Shin Kawai, Tokyo Tourism; John McGonigle, Goway & Serena Lee, JAL
Shin address the group
Agents applaud John as he reminds us that we need to demonstrate our value we bring to our clients.
(l - r)Cathy Hack & Susan Therrien, Cruise Connections Canada with Mihoko Suzuka & Ayako Okajima, Skyland Travel Inc.
Goway, JAL & Tokyo Tourism hosted training at Vancouver's Seasons restaurant in Queen Elizabeth Park to talk all things Japan last week. Local Goway BDM Soran Prasad, as well as her Massachusetts-based General Manager of Sales John McGonigle welcomed the group, along with Serena Lee of JAL in YVR and Shin Kawai of Tokyo Tourism from YTO.
In addition to a lovely dinner, we learned about Tokyo Tourism's new "& Tokyo" campaign from Shin, combining the many unique aspects of Tokyo to delight and excite visitors, ranging from sights to cuisine to festivals. Serena then spoke eloquently about many of JAL's accomplishments including its award wining punctuality, new inflight seating and cuisine.
In his presentation, John made a good analogy of the travel agent being a trusted medical advisor. Our clients come to us for travel advice, and we must uncover their needs - budget, interest and timeframe - and in turn provide the best "travel prescription" to suit these needs. A clear-cut message was delivered to travel agents: your clients need to understand the value you bring to the table. Having a local presence, working with a local supplier with destination expertise is how you should position yourself as the client's only choice in securing a holiday with confidence. And, agents should certainly have success in selling Japan with Goway's 46 year, family-owned history and their partnership with JAL & Tokyo Tourism. Goway will even conduct a 3-way conference call with the agent & client to help close the sale, which is impressive.
Of the 40 agents in the audience, most are already working with Goway, while others came to learn more about Japan and what Goway can offer for their clients. I chatted with Cathy Hack & Susan Therrien of Cruise Connections Canada; both tell me that they put together pre and post packages for cruise clients, many of whom sail on Princess Cruises which has a ship based in Japan year round. Being able to arrange FIT and group options with Goway allows the agency to go to market with cruise & stay packages - and clients appreciate the inclusiveness and convenience of having everything pre-arranged.
The evening ended with a rousing game of Jeopardy - Japanese-style, as John played Alex Trebek, quizzing the group with a broad range of “answers” about Japan, and participants competing fiercely with the right questions. It was a great way to test our knowledge retention and a fun time was had by all.