Sunday,  August 14, 2022  3:29 pm

“We could feel the excitement”: Playa’s Freddie Marsh & Carnival’s Kim Tobias train agents in Sask.

“We could feel the excitement”: Playa’s Freddie Marsh & Carnival’s Kim Tobias train agents in Sask.
From left: Kim Tobias, BDM, Western Canada, Carnival Cruise Line; Freddie Marsh, BDM, Western Canada, Playa Hotels & Resorts. (Supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Playa Hotels and Resorts and Carnival Cruise Line teamed up last week to host a series of training sessions for travel advisors in Saskatchewan, marking a long-overdue return to in-person learning in the prairies.

The breakfast-hour sessions, co-hosted by Freddie Marsh, Playa’s business development manager for Western Canada and Kim Tobias, Carnival’s Western Canada business development manager, landed in two cities: Saskatoon (on July 12) and Regina (on July 13).

“We were thrilled with the enthusiasm from Saskatchewan. Some travel agents travelled up to two hours to attend. We could feel the excitement. For most, it was their first in-person supplier event in nearly three years,” Marsh told PAX.

Attendees were served a hot breakfast and then Freddie and Kim each presented for one hour to share updates on their product.

Growth at Playa 

Playa, for instance, has several new all-inclusive resorts in the market, such as the Yucatan Resort Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun and Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya, debuting in December 2022, and the rebranding of the Wyndham Alltra all-inclusive resorts in late 2021.

As the fall and winter season approaches, Marsh is reminding travel agents about all of the resources available on Playa’s travel agent site

The rooftop pool at Yucatan Resort Tapestry Collection by Hilton. (Pax Global Media)

“This is where travel agents have access to assets for social media, online courses, marketing material and resort information,” Marsh noted.

It’s also home to Playa’s Travel Agent Incentive program, called AgentCASH+ and there’s even a direct (and commissionable) booking engine on the site.

Demand for cruises “definitely on the rise"

Tobias said it was “so great to be able to reconnect in person with the amazing travel advisor partners of Saskatchewan.”

“A very big thank you to all of the travel advisors that attended our events to learn more on Playa Resorts and all things Carnival,” Tobias said. “Connecting in person was the best.”

Tobias told PAX that demand for cruising is “definitely on the rise.”

“We are seeing a lot of multigenerational and first-time cruisers, which has been awesome,” Tobias said. “Families are choosing to reconnect after not seeing each during the pandemic onboard our ships.”

All of Carnival’s ships on both the west and east coasts are back in the water and are sailing close to full capacity.

“We have the sister to the Mardi Gras, the Carnival Celebration, the second Excel-Class ship launching this winter from Miami and the third Excel-Class ship, the Carnival Jubilee, sailing from Galveston in 2023,” Tobias noted.

Carnival's Kim Tobias presents to travel advisors in Regina. (Supplied)

Weddings, also, will resume in September either on board or at one of Carnival’s many beautiful ports of call, Tobias added.

And Carnival’s kids programs, for ages two to 17, are back in full swing from “so kids can enjoy the best part of summer camp year round on a Carnival cruise.”

“Cruise lines were clear from the start about COVID protocols, which provided a level of reassurance to many potential travellers,” Tobias said. “There is a certain confidence that comes with cruising. Demand will be high in 2023 and into 2024, so my advice to travel advisors is to book now to guarantee availability.”

The Carnival team is also “super excited” to see that Air Canada will be offering non-stop flights from Vancouver to Miami this winter and Montreal to New Orleans.

Marsh and Tobias said that the travel advisors who attended the trainings noted how they enjoyed the format of having an in-person event hosted by two non-competing suppliers.

The duo are taking their Western Canada show on the road as they head to Kelowna on Oct. 18 and then to Nanaimo on Oct. 20.

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