Transat Holidays plans to add two new destinations annually to its Europe program for the next few years going forward, Vice-President National Sales and Commerical Denise Heffron told travel partners at the official launch of its 2015 line-up yesterday.
"We are always pursuing new areas for development in Europe," she said, also reinforcing the message that Transat Tours Canada is prepared as competition in the marketplace continues to evolve. "We knew what was on the horizon with competition and we began to deal with this a few years ago when we refurbished the aircraft, and we continue to do so, so you can sell Europe with confidence."
The 2015 offering features 27 destinations, including the addition of Budapest (available by direct flight from Montreal and Toronto, June 17 - Oct. 17) and a new gateway that connects St. John's, Newfoundland to Gatwick. Increased capacity will be available on routes such as Barcelona and Athens, plus Paris and London where the company will also be "better utilizing these hubs" in an effort to make it easier for travellers who want to connect to other destinations. Various travel options throughout the program include packages, tours and cruises.
Transat Tours Canada recently underwent staff restructuring for the purpose of better synergies and efficiencies, in addition to bringing multiple brands and expertise under one umbrella for sales and marketing. As a result, the Transat Discoveries program can also be found in this year's Europe brochure.
"Transat Discoveries is still a very important product to us, but we felt that by putting it in the more mainstream Europe brochure, it would get in front of more consumers," explained Nicole Bursey, commercial director for Western Canada and Ontario. "That's our strategy."
Dan Prior, who was sales director for Discoveries, is carrying over his expertise but with an expanded role as sales manager for Ontario & Atlantic Canada.
Representatives are calling the 2015 brochure "simplified," as it showcases a national offering, applicable to travellers coast-to-coast. Also connecting travellers across the country to the Transat product next year will be feeder fares available for Halifax and Quebec City into Montreal, and Vancouver into Toronto, which are expected to be in the system early in the new year.
Other key points shared by the Transat team included:
- A Budapest-Prague itinerary is available for a lead-in rate of $1,559 (plus tax), which Bursey said "is a great opportunity to introduce Europe to a lot of people who think Europe is outside of their budget, because it really isn't."
- A new Euro-Budget Collection offers two- and four-star hotels in popular destinations near key sites
- Transat aircraft offer seatback entertainment and this year, the option of personalized entertainment for free using a personal smartphone, iPad or tablet is available on its A310s
- "We're really in to customizing an experience when it comes to Europe; it's not as cookie-cutter as the South so it's very important that we offer a lot of options," Bursey said. One example is the fare selections available for air, including Eco, Eco Extra and Eco Max.
- Vacation concepts include: planned out packages such as Italian Countryside Package, City Package, Seaside Package and Go-As-You-Please Package in Great Britain or Ireland; coach tours and cruises; plus "helpful extras" such as City Package & Excursions; City Hopping Package; Island Hopping in Greece; and City and Island Hopping in Greece.
- On coach tours: "Our coach tours offer a lot of value," Bursey said. "Where we really need assistance, I would say, is getting that message out to the Canadian traveller. We don't have a big name on the side of every bus that is operating for Transat Holidays, so that brand awareness isn't the strongest. We have to make sure agents understand the value of our coach product."
- On cruising: "When you're thinking of Transat Holidays and cruising, it's really important that agents understand the Transat advantages. Our sales team can work with you to make sure that understanding is clear. Really, it's in the savings when it comes to air, the flight protection that we offer, and great pre- and post-opportunities."
- On group travel: "Group travel is a great way to round out your business. Air sales are great but we want more of your land business." Groups can pick options from the brochure or the Groups department can customize experiences as well.
Photo: Of Transat: Steve Brown, inside sales; Denise Heffron, VP national sales & commerical; Nicole Bursey, commercial director for Western Canada and Ontario; Dan Prior, sales manager, Ontario & Atlantic Canada; Suzanne Diefenbaker, director, customer care centre; & Pat Brady,national groups director