“Record-breaking commissions, record-breaking sales.”
That’s how Gregory Luciani, president and CEO of TravelOnly, sums up the past six months during which Canadian travel advisors saw a surge in bookings following the gradual elimination of travel restrictions.
“We’re back and we’re back with a vengeance,” Mr. Luciani told 75 travel advisors and 12 suppliers Sunday night (Nov. 13) in the red-upholstered confines of the 1920s-inspired Le Cabaret Rouge on MSC Seashore, where TravelOnly, this week, is hosting its 2022 Symposium at Sea – its first since 2018.
“All the statistics and indictors point to a surge in demand for the next decade.”
That bodes well for an industry that appears to be fiercely rebounding following more than two-and-half-years of pandemic-related challenges and shutdowns.
TravelOnly’s 2022 conference at sea, which PAX is covering exclusively, builds on the host agency’s national conference last June with themes of being “Stronger Than Ever” and onboard sessions aimed at creating business strategies that advisors can implement immediately.
Between one-on-one meetings, supplier presentations and master classes in marketing and social media: “We’re going to push you to go further,” Luciani told agents last night, citing recent examples of partners doubling – even quadrupling – their business since 2019.
“Stronger than ever”
Symposium at Sea welcomes a diverse group of agents – from first-time cruisers to pros who have sailed upwards of 90 times.
“But there’s one thing we all have in common,” Luciani said. “We love to travel and we love to share that passion.”
The conference got started on land Saturday night (Nov. 12) with a poolside cocktail party hosted by WestJet Vacations at the AC Hotel by Marriott Miami Brickell.
While at sea this week, attendees will be able to connect with the Caribbean as their voyage takes them to sun-soaked destinations like The Bahamas – home to MSC’s marine reserve, Ocean Cay – Puerto Rico (San Juan), St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) and the Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata).
And an all-star cast of suppliers has signed up for the ride.
Participating companies this year include MSC, Viking, Celebrity, Air Canada Vacations, Transat, Royal Caribbean, Hurtigruten, Seabourn, Goway, Palace, Uplift and Manulife.
“Our Symposium at Sea is all about reconnecting with each other,” said Ian Elliott, vice-president of sales and marketing at TravelOnly, noting how this year’s conference is welcoming its largest crowd yet.
“As we near the end of a very difficult time in our industry, this is the perfect time to learn from each other, acquire new skills, gain knowledge and strengthen our partnerships.”
“We truly are stronger than ever.”
All aboard MSC Seashore
Meanwhile, MSC Seashore, an elegant ship that MSC Cruises debuted in August 2021, will be the setting for this week’s festivities.
Capable of hosting 5,877 passengers at full capacity, the ship has 20 dazzling decks (although there’s no deck 17 since the number is considered unlucky for this Swiss-Italian cruise line) and is the longest in its class.
There are six onboard pools, a water park and 18 bars and lounges (12 indoors and six outdoors).
As PAX’s own Diane Tierney noted while sailing the ship back in January, the Long Island pool and hot tub area “is where the action is.” This deck features daybeds, loungers and there’s a stage for entertainment and a jumbo TV.
The Deck 8 infinity pool at the aft is quieter since it’s for adults only (its sleek in-pool loungers make it very photogenic).
On each side of the ship, there are 10-seat infinity glass wall whirlpools – also with a curved infinity bridge and glass floor.
Pirate’s Cove aquapark has drenching buckets, jets and two waterslides that hang over the side of the ship.
(A Canadian company, called WhiteWater West, based in British Columbia, actually built all of Seashore’s waterpark components).
MSC Seashore also has a sparkling atrium of six Swarovski crystal staircases and 2,270 staterooms, including 11 different types, such as 50 terraced suites with balconies offering up to 15 square metres of space, and 32 suites with outdoor whirlpools.
You can bet that TravelOnly advisors will be exploring every inch of the ship this week as they work to boost their cruise sales.
Luciani urged partners to latch onto strategies they can apply to their business “not tomorrow, but today.”
“We’re stronger together and we’re here for each other,” Luciani told attendees. “We all have your backs and that’s the most important thing. You’re not alone.”
Stay tuned as PAX brings you more exclusive coverage from TravelOnly’s 2022 Symposium at Sea.
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