Sunday,  October 1, 2023  3:43 pm

TravelBrands golf classic raises $300,000 for SickKids, Tanious talks strategy

  • Buzz
  •   09-08-2023  10:55 am
  •   Jessica Huras
TravelBrands golf classic raises $300,000 for SickKids, Tanious talks strategy
Nathalie Tanious, CEO of TravelBrands (left) spotted at TravelBrands' eight annual Charity Golf Classic. (Pax Global Media)
Jessica Huras

It was a hot and humid day on the links for TravelBrands eight annual Charity Golf Classic, which took place Thursday (Sept. 7) at Eagles Nest Golf Club in Maple, ON.

More than 144 golfers from the travel industry, partners and TravelBrands colleagues gathered in support of the SickKids Foundation, raising a total of $300,000 by the end of the event.

Despite some scattered showers, participants enjoyed mainly sunny weather for the day, which included 18 holes of golf, an oyster bar, bull rides, an ice cream truck, food and drink activations from the Jamaica and Barbados tourism boards, as well as the event’s signature helicopter ball drop.

From left: SickKids Ambassador Brianna Buckle; Niyousha Nejatpour, manager, Community Partnerships, SickKids Foundation; Jennifer Matthews, director, strategic projects, TravelBrands; Nathalie Tanious, President and CEO, TravelBrands; Hideo Hatano, Executive Officer, H.I.S. Co., Ltd. (Pax Global Media)

 PAX, a sponsor, was on the scene in a bright orange Volkswagen photo booth to capture the action at the 17th hole on the course.

The exciting day wrapped up with dinner, along with both silent and live auctions.

(Pax Global Media)

Eight years of impact

Nathalie Tanious, who recently took over the helm of Red Label Vacations, TravelBrands and Merit Travel with the departure of former president and CEO Frank DeMarinis, delivered brief remarks during the dinner, thanking attendees for their contributions and describing SickKids as a “near and dear” cause for TravelBrands.

READ MORE: "A rewarding journey": DeMarinis steps down from TravelBrands, RLV, Merit Travel; Tanious takes helm

SickKids Ambassador Brianna Buckle also delivered moving remarks, describing her experience battling a rare congenital heart defect and undergoing multiple major heart surgeries at hospital.

SickKids Ambassador Brianna Buckle. (Pax Global Media)

Buckle had previously given a speech at the TravelBrands’ golf tournament in 2014, with her return signifying the cumulative impact the company’s ongoing fundraising for the foundation has had over the past eight years.

“Because of SickKids and donors like you, I got my childhood back,” said Buckle, addressing the audience.

“Supporting SickKids, as you wonderful folks at TravelBrands do, means supporting patients like me…without you, SickKids would not be able to be the incredibly joyful place that it is,” she added.

TravelBrands raised $300,000 for the SickKids Foundation at this year's gold tournament. (Pax Global Media)

Buckle noted during her speech that TravelBrands has raised more than $1.5 million for SickKids to date.

“The SickKids Foundation has done so much for so many children and we feel that if we can make a small contribution, maybe we can help make that little difference,” said Tanious, speaking to PAX.

Bucket list bookings

Tanious told PAX that TravelBrands’ current priority as an organization is providing seamless tech for agents.

“We want to make sure we give travel agents the right tools to make the bookings they need to make,” said Tanious, highlighting the recent launch of the TravelBrands’ Access+ platform in February.

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

She explained that the company is now aiming to refine and enhance its current platforms to make them even more intuitive for agents to navigate.

“We want to make sure that we have the optimal technology for travel agents – that's our number one focus,” she said.

From left (of TravelBrands): Diane Lattavo, Nathalie Tanious. (Pax Global Media)

Tanious added that excellent customer service continues to be another key pillar for TravelBrands.

“We have very little wait times on the phone to make sure that we are that one-stop shop. Whatever product that the travel agent wants to book, we have it,” she said.

“Our goal is to make sure that that travel agent is constantly selling to the customer and to never underestimate the customer's budget.”

The booking trends that TravelBrands is currently seeing are “extremely diverse,” according to Tanious.

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

(Pax Global Media)

“People are booking everything from the traditional seven days in the Caribbean and Mexico to cruising,” said Tanious, adding that they’ve seen the international markets “take off” as destinations have reopened following the pandemic.

Many travellers are also opting for longer-duration trips. “It’s a great opportunity,” she said.

Tanious shared that several years of being cooped up during the pandemic also seems to be driving travellers to invest in their bucket list destinations.

“Everybody has a dream. Everyone has a desire to go somewhere they haven't been and they’ve had plenty of time to think about it. That's what we're seeing right now,” she said.

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