The Independent by Flight Centre Annual Awards were held virtually on Dec. 10, connecting agents and suppliers in a year-end celebration of the best of the best in the business.
The evening consisted of two sets of awards: the first half of the awards focused on supplier partner recognition; and the second half of the awards recognized agents who were not only enjoying sales success prior to COVID-19, but also agents who were contributing to the support and culture of the Independent by Flight Centre community.
The 3rd annual Independent Partner Appreciation Awards recognized top partners across a number of categories as voted by Independent by Flight Centre Agents for the 2020 calendar year.
“We definitely missed having our usual event for our supplier partners earlier in the year,” said Independent by Flight Centre General Manager Lee Zanello, “but having to postpone put a new level of engagement on the voting, which is all done by our agents, and gave them the opportunity to recognize those partners who they felt have been the most supportive through these challenging times.”
Top awards for the evening went to Air Canada Vacations for Top ITC Provider, Royal Caribbean for Top Cruise, Avalon for Top River Cruise, and Amanda Morris from Playa Hotels and Resorts took the home the biggest award of the night for top BDM, her second year in a row winning the honour.
Independent by Flight Centre agents were recognized for sales across 2019-2020 leading up to the pandemic and were also honoured for their commitment to the Independent by Flight Centre community.
The Inspiration Award, Foundation Award and Ambassador Award are given to those agents who have made impacts in the local, regional and national Independent community respectively.
A new addition this year, the Outstanding Business Ownership Awards, were given to recognize those agents who have elevated their businesses during the pandemic.
“There is so much good happening in our community of agents that is not measured in sales and commissions,” said Zanello. “We have always recognized these contributions but this year they take on even more meaning as agents have helped contribute to a massive mutual support system.”
Another new award this year was named in honour of an Independent by Flight Centre agent who passed away in 2020, Dr. Myrtle Gordon-Ennis, who embodied the spirit of education and learning.
“Everyone who knew Myrtle was touched by her kind heart and inspired by her story and lifelong commitment to education,” Zanello said. “We wanted to ensure we not only commemorated her contribution to the travel community but also recognize and celebrate the importance of constant and continuing education within our industry.”
The virtual event featured a mix of both pre-recorded and live acceptance speeches, a “Dress Your Festive Self” theme, a shared cocktail recipe including live “Mixology Moment”, and a tribute video to 2020 featuring Independent Agents and Flight Centre support from across the country singing along to Corey Hart’s Never Surrender as an inspiring and motivating message to cap the evening off.
“It goes without saying that we can’t wait to do this event live next year,” Zanello said, “but to connect with everyone, even virtually, and to be able to thank them for how they’ve handled everything we’ve all been through… this might just have been my favourite event we’ve ever done.”
And the winners are...
Independent Partner Appreciation Awards Winners:
Top ITC Provider – Air Canada Vacations
Top International Airline – Air Canada
Top Domestic Airline – Air Canada
Top Coach Tour – Trafalgar
Top Small Group Tour – G Adventures
Top Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean
Top River Cruise – Avalon
Hall of Fame – Air Canada
Top BDM – Amanda Morris – Playa Hotels and Resorts (2nd year in a row)
Short List of Independent Agent Awards
Inspiration Award – Mike Sanderson
Foundation Award – Marilyn Stainer
Ambassador Award – Julie Smigadis
Outstanding Business Ownership Award – Caitlin Sheen
Outstanding Business Ownership Award – Caitlin LaJeunesse
Myrtle Gordon Education Award – Jen Albert
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