A new era of Air Canada Vacations is gaining momentum in the Canadian marketplace, according to President and COO Eamonn Ferrin.
The tour operator was established more than 35 years ago, and since that time, has carried millions of passengers. But thanks to new strategies and product, plus the evolution of Air Canada's overall brand to now also include leisure carrier rouge, opportunities have allowed the company to take a more competitive position than ever before.
"Canadians love travelling the world and we love taking them to where they want to go, and finding them the best places to stay and giving them great things to do when they get there - that's in the Air Canada Vacations DNA," Ferrin said.
This year, 47 resort hotels have been added to its in-destination line-up for a total of 522, making the 2014-2015 season its "biggest and best winter schedule ever." Plus, increased capacity on rouge (which has grown significantly over the past year-and-a-half from four aircraft to 28 and counting) has also influenced prices and added value.
"We are seeing a swing of the pendulum back from totally self-made holidays to a more curated and one stop type of travel," Ann Layton, founder & CEO of Siren Communications said, representing ACV. "Why? I think that people are getting fed up with this because it is enormously time consuming—who hasn’t spent hours looking on these sites? It is also frustrating—the numbers change like Russian Roulette. But most importantly, ultimately there is not human help if you need it. If you book with Air Canada Vacations, and something should go wrong while you are away, you now have human beings on the ground in numerous countries to take care of you should you need help. So we have a swing back to wanting someone to take care of things, someone to negotiate on our behalf, and some sort of security associated with our travel."
And, as Canadians rank third on international travel spend per capita, the potential within the marketplace is huge.
Ferrin's insights for winter bookings to pass on to clients:
- Book early to avoid disappointment: Traditionally, key dates such as Christmas, New Year's, Reading Week and March Break book much earlier than non-peak dates. In fact, more than 85 per cent of total stock for the period of Dec. 15 to Dec. 28 has already been sold and the remaining is selling out very quickly.
- While Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba and Dominican Republic accounted for 86 per cent of Canadian arrivals for Winter 2013-2014, destinations such as Barbados and Grenada are increasing in popularity for ACV as more capacity is added.
- ACV defines a 'group' as 10 or more guests, offering even large, extended families dedicated deals. Discounts vary by booking and departure date, but it can go as high in one in seven rooms free to a Group. Special offers are also available for weddings and honeymoons.
- Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations offer connections from 66 Canadian cities, and its global network and operation extends to 200-plus destinations worldwide.
- Flexible stays of three, four, seven or 10 nights & options to ”build your own" are part of the ACV value proposition.
For more information, visit www.aircanadavacations.com.