Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) welcomed close to 150 travel professionals from its network to its first face-to-face regional conference in three years.
Under the theme "Rebound,” the TDC community and its preferred partners gathered at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17-18 to energize collectively, get informed and take stock of the situation to make the most of the long-awaited recovery in travel demand.
"The regional conference has always been a tradition within the TDC network, and we were all eager to get together after two years of virtual conferences," said Karine Gagnon, who became general manager of TDC on July 1, replacing Louise Fecteau, who retired.
Gagnon said this year’s “Rebound” theme involves multiple facets.
“First, we see that the industry as a whole is already rebounding and has been for the past few months,” she said. “The travel professionals in our network, whether they are franchisees, affiliates, corporate agencies or agent@home, all say that travellers are returning in a way they haven't seen for a long time, which is positive. But for us, to rebound also means getting a firm footing so that we can gain momentum and go even further. To do this, we want to equip our members with the tools they need to meet their current challenges.”
A day dedicated to owners
Friday's (Sept. 16) meeting was dedicated exclusively to the owners of Marlin Travel, Travel Plus and Affiliate agencies, allowing them to reflect together along with the TDC network's management team, at a higher level.
Gagnon and Joseph Adamo, president of TDC and chief sales and marketing officer of Transat, gave an update on the state of the industry, TDC and Transat.
A representative from Virtuoso, a world leader in the luxury market that TDC's LuxeXpert certified travel professionals can join, explained how the luxury market can help travel agencies do better in this recovery.
The industry’s employee shortage is another hot topic, so recruitment and H.R. experts were brought in to brainstorm with owners on ways of managing recruitment, motivation and retention of employees.
TDC also reviewed its marketing ecosystem, explaining in more detail to owners how all the programs offered can be valuable tools.
“Things have moved very quickly since March 2020, and we want to make sure our members are familiar with all the new tools and programs TDC has developed for them in the past two years, whether it's the TDC Campus online training program, the Xpress marketing platform or the LuxeXpert program,” Gagnon said.
Motivational sessions & much-anticipated evening
It was also vital for TDC to “re-energize” its members, Gagnon said.
“We're doing so in a number of ways," she said. "First, speaker Sylvie Thiffault talked about post-pandemic client relations, and especially equips travel professionals to deal with what she calls the ‘emotional bombs’ that clients sometimes throw at us.”
“Insurance, of course, is an even more important part of travel in 2022, and Manulife provided practical sales tips that reflect the new reality of travel and the needs associated with it.”
A TDC regional conference wouldn't be the same without the traditional Saturday evening event, which was presented by Transat.
"Everyone looks forward to this event because the energy it brings is unparalleled and it's doing us all a world of good this year,” Gagnon added.
The regional conference ended “on a high note” on Sunday at noon with two great events.
“First, a major recognition session, to acknowledge the fact that what the industry as a whole experienced was extraordinary, so we want to give our travel professionals a moment to truly realize how extraordinary each of them is," said Gagnon.
The weekend ends on a funny note, with the motivational words of comedian and author Susan Stewart, who shares ways agents can meet challenges with confidence, resilience, and a sense of humour.
TDC said it was fortunate to be able to count on the presence of more than fifty of its preferred partners, who shared their latest offers.
“The changes have come thick and fast in the last few years, so everyone needs to take a little time to assimilate and have everything in hand to be able to Rebound," said Gagnon.