Despite “doom and gloom” reports in the media that suggest the travel business is in trouble, Canada’s travel industry is a healthy market full of opportunity, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s (CWT) senior directors stressed to attendees at a fall training academy held at Westin Bristol Place in Toronto on Saturday (Oct. 15).
“People talk a lot about how the world isn’t always a safe place and economic challenges … but Canadians are still prepared to travel,” CWT’s Louise Gardiner, senior director, associate program Canada, told PAX at the high-energy workshop and networking event, which drew more than 200 of CWT’s Ontario-based associate partners, owners and managers, including dozens of supplier partners.
“It’s a healthy market,” Gardiner told attendees in her opening remarks, drawing upon the latest statistics surrounding Canadian travel habits, specifically concerning baby boomers and millennials.
Baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – make up 27 per cent of Canada’s population, and many will soon retire. The Canadian Tourist Research Institute predicts this group will be the main pleasure travel market over the next 10 years spending more than $35 billion annually.
“That is a gold mine for us,” Gardiner said.
The millennial travel market is just as lucrative, said Gardiner, noting that millennials travel more often than any other generation, spending roughly $200 billion on travel annually, a figure that is expected to climb.
“This is good news for the hospitality industry, but only for companies who understand millenials’ unique travel expectations,” Gardiner told the crowd. “Millennials want an experience. They want value by saving, earning and learning while travelling.”
The key to CWT’s success lies in its ability to inspire clients through storytelling, said Gardiner. “It’s all about the stories and making our customers want to travel to fantastic destinations,” she said.
CWT’s Louise Gardiner, senior director, associate program Canada, leads the parade of nations
Una O'Leary, senior director, marketing and supplier management, North American Leisure at CWT echoed that sentiment, adding that the fall training academy – aptly themed 'Your World Of Possibilities'– was about providing the front lines with the right tools to allow them to be successful.
“It’s about making sure they know and understand how to use our CRM tools and better manage their own revenues by working closely with our preferred supplier partners,” O'Leary told PAX.
The day, which included an interactive trade show, helped attendees leverage CWT’s latest marketing strategy – which positions itself from a lifestyle perspective versus demographic – and learn about the latest branding updates from CWT’s supplier partners.
Major sponsors included Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations; Transat; WestJet and WestJet Vacations; and Manulife.
At its core, the day was about motivating and inspiring the CWT team to be successful.
“Travel is in our DNA,” said Gardiner, who kept the energy high as she led attendees in a parade through the Westin Bristol Place hotel before lunch, distributing flags from countries from around the world for people to hold, while singer K'naan’s hit song “Wavin’ Flag” boomed from a speaker system in the background.
“Motivation and passion happens after action,” athlete and inspirational speaker Sébastien Sasseville told attendees in a keynote address.
Sasseville, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002, shared his story of becoming the first Canadian with type 1 diabetes to reach the summit of Mount Everest, in addition to competing in Egypt’s Sahara Race and, notably, completing a coast-to-coast run across Canada in 2014 as part of a campaign to Outrun Diabetes.
On tapping into one’s peak performance, Sasseville told attendees to “leverage the tools you have, and when you put that into motion, you’ll start to see results.”
“When we’re moving together, we’re achieving much better results. Embracing that strategy is so important,” Sasseville said.