“I have no words to express what an amazing experience this has been,” Zeina Gedeon, CEO of TravelBrands told PAX from her Toronto office yesterday.
Perhaps not the first words you’d expect from a CEO whose company has emerged from creditor protection, but Gedeon, who joined the company in September 2015, feels the situation has paved the way for positive growth.
“It was a perfect time to go through CCAA. It allowed us to really open up everything, look at it, and rejig it.”
Barely 24 hours after the company proudly announced its exit from the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), the distributor is now keeping up momentum by rolling out new technology, agent incentives and content - all due to launch within the next 12 months.
“We’ve centralized all our operations, and we’re putting new processes in place,” Gedeon said in a one-on-one interview, where she and TravelBrands’ Senior VP Nino Montagnese laid out what the industry can expect as the company gears up for big changes.
TravelBrands will streamline its collection of popular brands beginning in March 2016, transitioning them out as separate online entities and replacing them with individual product lines.
“We’ve got in-depth product within each of our different lines,” Montagnese explained, going on to say that the different brands currently on offer will be categorized on the company website to fit under the product classifications: Air, Hotel, Cruise, Car, Land and Specialty.
“The brands, as we know them today, are going to feed the product lines that we’ll feature.”
Once the transition begins, the brands Holiday House, Intair and Encore will be amalgamated to become Land, Air, and Cruise respectively, and while all the company’s big names will be organized in this manner, Gedeon confirmed that Sunquest will remain a standalone brand.
Come March 2016, a new B2B platform is also expected to launch, which will streamline agent navigation online.
“We did informal surveys with many of our travel agents,” Gedeon explained, “and many of them have complained that [our system] is confusing. So the reason we’re doing all this is because we’ve realized there’s a lot of confusion and time wasted on the front line to determine how to get access to our products.”
Gedeon said that the site, designed with agents’ needs in mind, will allow agents to distribute to their customers in an a dynamic, la carte packaging environment, making it a “one-stop shop” experience.
Meet the team
“We’ve got three sales directors in place,” Montagnese said, adding that while the structure of the team hasn’t really changed (BDM reps will still remain the same), and there will still be the same amount of sales people on the road, they’ve adjusted the territories a bit to eliminate any overlap.
Erminia Nigro has been appointed director of sales, Ontario; Bruce Lidberg will fill the role of director of sales, Western Canada; and Lina Cote will be the point of contact for sales in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
According to Montagnese, the sales team is raring to go, and while support for TravelBrands has been strong this past year (Gedeon maintained that nearly all the brands have seen increases in sales) more is always welcome as agents begin to regain their confidence in the company.
Special thanks goes to…
“Really, the travel agents have been amazing,” Gedeon said.
A ‘feel the love’ incentive is the newest of the series in time for Valentine’s Day, whereby agent partners who book one of the holiday-themed offers will receive a box of chocolates. The TravelBrands Valentine Week promotion runs from Feb. 10-16.
After Feb. 16, Montagnese confirmed there will be a four-week campaign involving bookings across all product lines (Air, Cruise, Hotel etc.), where one winner will be announced weekly, and awarded a prize from the category in question.