The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) popped the champagne and honoured the travel industry’s finest on Wednesday night (July 15) at their very own 2020 virtual Gala Awards.
The online ceremony, hosted by TTAND’s Flemming Friisdahl, Penny Martin, Rhonda Stanley and Shean Carmichael, awarded TTAND agents, as well as the host agency’s supplier partners, for their hard work and dedication.
“This is about recognizing the importance of travel agents, and the ones within The Travel Agent Next Door, to say that they matter, they make a difference, and that they’re important within the communities they serve,” Friisdahl, TTAND’s founder and president, told PAX in a telephone interview, shortly before the gala.
The glamorous night not only gave out awards to top-performing agents (presented by 30 of TTAND’s supplier partners), but honoured suppliers, too, the winners of which were voted on by TTAND’s network of travel pros.
The night recognized advisors for their work in 2019, Friisdahl explained.
“We’re recognizing their performance, what they’re doing, and saying thank you,” Friisdahl said.
"We will get through this"
Friisdahl acknowledged the tough challenges that come with being a travel advisor these days, especially during a global pandemic.
“It’s really tough,” he said, listing off a range of difficulties that agents face, such as working long hours for little or no pay, processing refunds, having to pay back commissions, and dealing with upset customers.
If there’s anything travel advisors can do right now to improve their situation, it’s to contact with their local MP and reinforce the need for continued financial relief, such as the CERB, said Friisdahl.
ACTA, just today, announced a similar call to action, urging travel agents to share their personal stories with their MPs to “bring a reality to what is happening in their riding.”
The other thing travel advisors should be telling the Canadian government, said Friisdahl, is to reduce the 14-day self-isolation order so travellers returning from safe countries with low COVID-19 infections can avoid quarantining themselves for two weeks.
“People can’t afford to take a three-week vacation for being one week away,” said Friisdahl, noting how there’s safe destinations out there with low COVID-19 rates that Canadians should be able to visit without having to self-isolate upon returning home.
“It’s about doing it in a smart way,” said Friisdahl.
But it just can’t be one or two agents leading the charge.
“Every single person has to step up. Without that, we won’t be successful,” said Friisdahl. “It’s only by doing this, together, that we’ll make a difference.”
Friisdahl concluded with a message of encouragement for the Canadian travel industry:
“We will get through this – that I know for certain,” he said. “We will do it together.”
So, who won at TTAND's 2020 Award's Gala? See the winners here!
|Most Supportive Tour Operator Partner
|Most Supportive Land / Guided Tour Partner
|Most Supportive Ocean
|Most Supportive River
|Most Supportive FIT Partner
|Most Supportive Specialty Product Partner
|Best Overall Preferred Supplier Partner
|Best Overall Approved Supplier Partner
||TravelBrands - Encore Cruises, Intair, Sunquest
||Mike Gilmore, TailWind Travel
|Air Canada Vacations
||Sylvette Deveau, Deveau Travel & Cindy Almond, Romance & Foodie Travel
||Top Producer - Cynthia Davidson, Beaches & Beyond
Top Producer Western Canada - Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Highest Sale increase - Dianne Marsden, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Karen Gill, Plan A Vacation
||Linda Kettlewell, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Steph Switzer, Exclusive To You Travel Services
||James Li, The Travel Agent Next Door
Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Steph Switzer, Exclusive To You Travel Services
Anna Abbandonato, Exclusive To You Travel Services
Maizy Alexander, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Top Group Agent - Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Top Retail Agent - Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
||Paula Stewart, Stewart Travel Group
||Chen Yu, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Stewart Travel Group
Anita Paton, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Valerie Paton, BF Travel
||Cathy Wiechnik, Xcursions
||Wendi Gladstone, Unique Group Tours
||Daphne Hart, You Go Girl Travel Group
||Karen Gill, Plan A Vacation
Travis Stewart, Stewart Travel Group
|Norwegian Cruise Line
||LeighAnne O'Neill, Once in a Lifetime Travel
||Bruce Chadwick, The Travel Agent Next Door
|Playa Hotel & Resorts
||Wendy Harrison, Lakeshore Travel
||Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Julie Gillen, The Travel Agent Next Door
|Regent Seven Seas Cruises
||Top Performer - Carolyn Lass, Burloak Travel
Top Travel Advisor Partner - Scott Waldron, Gravitate
|Royal Caribbean International
||Top Atlantic - Scott Penney, The Travel Agent Next Door
Top Prairies - Karen Davidson, Four Corners Vacations
Top BC - James Li, The Travel Agent Next Door
Top ON & Overall - Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Most direct bookings - Ruth Guiry, Guiry Travel
Most registered bookings - Sylvette Deveau, Deveau Travel
||Top performer - Wendi Gladstone, Unique Group Tours
Runner up - Kim Lake, Getaway with Compass
||Top overall sales - Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Top rising star - Maureen Hummel, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Sharna Crouch, Kala Travel
Maria Garcia, RMG Travel Services
|Viking River Cruise
||Wilma Suurnakki, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Dawn Uchida, Lets Get Out of Here
Dawn Negrey, Vacations by Dawn
Debbi Rempel, The Travel Agent Next Door
||Sharlene Philipchuck, A Whole World to Travel
Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Ruth Malcolm, The Travel Agent Next Door