Saturday,  July 2, 2022  1:46 am

Maritime Travel's Vacation Superstore celebrates 25 years


Maritime Travel's Vacation Superstore celebrates 25 years
Lindsay Kyte

Lindsay Kyte is the assistant editor of Lion's Roar magazine and also works as a freelance journalist, playwright, and performer.

Through the rain and winds of Halifax, people danced to Cuban beats, dressed up in hula skirts and made travel dreams a reality at the Maritime Travel 25th Annual Vacation Superstore.

This year’s event was held Jan. 13 and 14 at Halifax’s Cunard Centre, which offered a bigger venue, more presentation rooms and better parking.

Close to 100 travel representatives, some of whom had flown in from places such as Punta Cana, Cayo Coco, Varadero and more, greeted crowds so abundant the doors had to be opened early on Saturday morning. Ready to dish out deals were more than 50 vendors, including tour operators, cruise lines, wholesalers, destination representatives, hotel chains, stopover hotels and parking representatives, along with 70 agents on the floor.

“We try to make it fun, exciting and entertaining for people,” said Blair Jerrett, senior director of marketing, Maritime Travel. “We ring bells, announce where people are going, what they booked, and we do a green screen photo booth, where, for example, if you booked a cruise, we actually put you with a background of a cruise.”

This event also offered more than $35,000 in prizes to be won, door crasher specials, and the first 25 bookings on each day received a free carry-on suitcase.

This year marks the 25th show for the Vacation Superstore, which Jerrett said makes it well-established in the travel market.

Blair Jerrett, senior director of marketing, Maritime Travel

“A lot of the same customers come back year after year,” he said. “Suppliers will say they may talk to someone one year and they will book the next and ask that supplier if they remember them from the year before.”

There will also be shows happening simultaneously next weekend in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Moncton, New Brunswick. Besides vendors with booths in the main room, the event featured five presentation rooms, which offer presentations throughout the day that are published online and in advance.

“The presentations have been packed and full to capacity,” said Jerrett.

Jerrett said that as of Saturday afternoon, a hot seller seemed to be higher-end hotels.

“Punta Cana and Riviera Maya have also been huge sellers, as well as Cayo Coco,” said Jerrett. Some bigger bookings included Spain tours and European coach tours.

The show, based on previous numbers and weather, usually attracts anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 attendees. Jerrett said the event presents a unique chance for suppliers, agents, and customers to connect in ways they normally wouldn’t be able to do, with the big advantage being the prices customers get at the show.

“The suppliers give us those specials to encourage people to book on the spot,” said Jerrett. “I always tell people if I didn’t work here, I would come here to book. The deals really are great. If you can be flexible on your travel dates, you can score some very good prices.”

Jerrett also added that the access to first-hand information from tourist boards, or people who actually work at the hotel which a customer has just booked in an exotic location is a feature of the show that can’t be offered by usual means of booking.

Jerrett said the suppliers come back year after year.

“They love the crowds and they’re very busy,” he said. “They love talking directly to customers, and getting to work with the travel agents in a new way. It’s closer to the actual sale for them.”

Maritime Travel is Atlantic Canada’s largest travel agency group with 117 locations across Canada. For more information, visit www.maritimetravel.ca.

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