Transat’s 2017 regional conference rolled into Toronto over the weekend, with the company’s travel consultants and selling managers converging on the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Centre for the occasion.
A busy day on Saturday Sept. 23 saw attendees take in a series of presentations from preferred partners before participating in a range of training sessions and a supplier trade show, followed by a cocktail reception and dinner. Events wrapped up on Sunday with a speech by motivational speaker Sebastian Sasseville, after Air Miles and Transat Travel Insurance conference sessions.
The event marked another successful step in the Canada-wide series of conferences, with Susan Bowman, vice-president, marketing and industry relations, Transat, telling PAX that the company had witnessed record turnout at each of its events.
Nathalie Boyer, general manager, Transat Distribution Canada, added that overall, the conferences were expected to welcome over 1,000 travel professionals from across the country.
The conference was themed around the subject of ‘Soaring to New Heights,’ with Boyer describing it as the ‘perfect’ theme. “The theme is reaching heights,” she commented. “We’ve been innovating a lot in the past and we want to continue to innovate.”
Focus on training
Bowman said that the conference reflected Transat’s continuing focus on the quality of its training. “We feel it’s incredibly important in our industry, in our sector, to make sure everybody is knowledgeable,” she commented. “We have our own trainers, we hire external trainers and we start to develop contacts.”
She also stressed the importance of helping participants develop their ability to understand and sell products in depth. “We started, as an example today, an Italy workshop,” she said. “While everybody might be able to sell somebody… Rome or parts of Italy, the question is – can you actually go deep on all of the regions throughout Italy?
“It’s the first of eight modules that we’re rolling out in a TDC Advisor program. These are the kinds of things that these guys were exposed to today. It’s quite phenomenal, actually.”
Boyer noted that Transat has recently welcomed a series of exciting new initiatives as part of a careful strategy for future growth. “We invested in a new website platform, [and] we have a new… sales agent program with our Agent at Home program,” she said.
“We’ve done several things and we’re investing a lot in our academy – we think that our bases are solid to go to the next level, and we need to think about where we want to be in 10 years – so we are starting building a plan in order to continue to innovate and being relevant to the client, and making sure our travel professional will get all the tools and the skill that they need to continue serving well those clients that are evolving and changing.”
Bowman told PAX that the conference had transitioned from a more traditional format to a new style that was better-suited to meeting the needs of participants – in terms of both skill training and product training. “We’ve put out a schedule of workshops that are all custom-designed for our networks – and then they [participants] choose the ones that are most relevant to them,” she said.
“So today, they would have all attended three at least, plus we have a supplier trade show with all of our preferred partners… we have over 60 preferred partners, we don’t just sell Transat, so it’s important that they’re all here.”
Both Bowman and Boyer also hailed the strategic change in Transat Distribution Canada’s loyalty program, which has seen the company expand its long-term relationship with Air Miles by recently agreeing a deal for all Air Miles Packaged Vacation and Cruise bookings to be completed through TDC’s travel agency network.
“We looked overall at our relationship with them [Air Miles] and we’ve taken it up another level,” Bowman said. “They’re in 10 million homes across Canada – roughly 70 per cent of their base earn and redeem Air Miles every day… now, they have told all of these people that [if] they want to earn miles or redeem for vacations with their miles – the only place to come is Transat Distribution.”
As for the reaction of attendees to the conference? “Only good words,” Boyer said. “People were very thrilled to be here… the feedback is really good. People are learning and they have fun. And you can feel the energy.”