For the second year in a row, Transat Distribution Canada held its Sales Academy under the Caribbean sun. This year, the location was in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. On the agenda for hundreds of travel agents across Canada: four days of intensive training with 22 suppliers present, a dozen hotel tours and one day to rest.
Friday, April 27, 8:30 am: Sandra Wesson, director, product and industry relations, gives a long whistle outside the two Melia Caribe Tropical conference rooms. The troops are hurrying to take their places. The TDC training camp is open!
The purpose of this year's Sales Academy was to give tips and tricks to agents in order for them to understand the entire process of selling and buying a tourism product. "Basically, travel agents work in the retail department, with very high transactions," says Susan Bowman, vice president, marketing and industry relations. "All of our academies work very well, but this one is special because it's a combination of sales training and vendor presentation."
Julie Bilodeau, head of training, Transat
The four learning days each began with one hour of theoretical sales training on a specific theme: "Enhancing the Brand Experience", "Sales Process and the Questioning Protocol", "Understanding the Motivation of the Brand". 'buyer' and finally 'Persuasion of influence'. Original content was presented by Michael Vickers, a marketing and sales executive, gifted motivator, and speaker.
In the adjacent room, Julie Bilodeau, head of training at Transat, presented the same content, translated into French. "I put my touch, my style, my humor, and my concrete examples [into the presentation] because I'm in the field, so it's important to stay connected to what they experience on a daily basis," Bilodeau said.
Then, in turn, for 45 minutes each, suppliers offered a series of sales-oriented presentations.
At the end of the day, the last hour was devoted to fun workshops, in small groups, to put into practice the lessons of the day.
Susan Bowman, vice president, marketing and industry relations
In one week, industry professionals attended 30 hours of training and were able to share their experiences with each other, an aspect that should not be underestimated. Upon their return, the results will be immediately felt on their sales, explains Susan Bowman. "We see the impact in a few days," she said.
It is not a coincidence that 11 agents present at this year's conference are already in their second edition. "When I asked them why they were coming back, some people said to me, 'This is the best education I have received; I was looking forward to being re-invited.' They tell us that there is nothing comparable in the industry," Bowman said.
A case in point is Rick Gorill from Kawartha Lakes TravelPlus in Lindsay, Ontario. The travel professional, who has six years experience in the indutry, including two at TDC, was present at the Academy last year and did not hesitate to return again. "I had many notes last year. Michael Vickers really says real business. These are simple things, like sending thank you cards to customers, but you have to think about it!"
Kathleen Côté of Club Voyages Rimouski, who specializes in the south, is already thinking about coming back. "We are lucky to live this. We leave here with a bag of motivation, and it's like we are on adrenaline! The hotels we visited this week are products I sell but I have never seen. When I get to the office, I'll reread my notes and I'll send emails, that's for sure!"