Monday,  August 3, 2020  4:33 pm

TTAND honours industry's best at Virtual Gala Awards. See the winners list here!


TTAND honours industry's best at Virtual Gala Awards. See the winners list here!
Top (of TTAND): Rhonda Stanley, Flemming Friisdahl; Penny Martin (right); Shean Carmichael (left).
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) popped the champagne and honoured the travel industry’s finest on Wednesday night (July 15) at their very own 2020 virtual Gala Awards.

The online ceremony, hosted by TTAND’s Flemming Friisdahl, Penny Martin, Rhonda Stanley and Shean Carmichael, awarded TTAND agents, as well as the host agency’s supplier partners, for their hard work and dedication.

“This is about recognizing the importance of travel agents, and the ones within The Travel Agent Next Door, to say that they matter, they make a difference, and that they’re important within the communities they serve,” Friisdahl, TTAND’s founder and president, told PAX in a telephone interview, shortly before the gala.

READ MORE: TTAND honours 2019 top performers at virtual awards gala

The glamorous night not only gave out awards to top-performing agents (presented by 30 of TTAND’s supplier partners), but honoured suppliers, too, the winners of which were voted on by TTAND’s network of travel pros.

From left: Penny Martin, Shean Carmichael; Alma J. Ortiz; Flemming Friisdahl; Rhonda Stanley (PAX file photo).

The night recognized advisors for their work in 2019, Friisdahl explained.

“We’re recognizing their performance, what they’re doing, and saying thank you,” Friisdahl said.

"We will get through this"

Friisdahl acknowledged the tough challenges that come with being a travel advisor these days, especially during a global pandemic.

“It’s really tough,” he said, listing off a range of difficulties that agents face, such as working long hours for little or no pay, processing refunds, having to pay back commissions, and dealing with upset customers.

If there’s anything travel advisors can do right now to improve their situation, it’s to contact with their local MP and reinforce the need for continued financial relief, such as the CERB, said Friisdahl.

Flemming Friisdahl, founder and president of The Travel Agent Next Door. (Pax Global Media)

ACTA, just today, announced a similar call to action, urging travel agents to share their personal stories with their MPs to “bring a reality to what is happening in their riding.”

The other thing travel advisors should be telling the Canadian government, said Friisdahl, is to reduce the 14-day self-isolation order so travellers returning from safe countries with low COVID-19 infections can avoid quarantining themselves for two weeks. 

“People can’t afford to take a three-week vacation for being one week away,” said Friisdahl, noting how there’s safe destinations out there with low COVID-19 rates that Canadians should be able to visit without having to self-isolate upon returning home.

“It’s about doing it in a smart way,” said Friisdahl.

But it just can’t be one or two agents leading the charge.

“Every single person has to step up. Without that, we won’t be successful,” said Friisdahl. “It’s only by doing this, together, that we’ll make a difference.”

Friisdahl concluded with a message of encouragement for the Canadian travel industry:  

“We will get through this – that I know for certain,” he said. “We will do it together.”

So, who won at TTAND's 2020 Award's Gala? See the winners here!

TTAND Award
Supplier
Most Supportive Tour Operator Partner
Transat
Most Supportive Land / Guided Tour Partner
Goway
Most Supportive Ocean
Celebrity Cruises
Most Supportive River
AmaWaterways
Most Supportive FIT Partner
TravelBrands (Exotik)
Most Supportive Specialty Product Partner
G Adventures
Best Overall Preferred Supplier Partner
Transat
Best Overall Approved Supplier Partner
TravelBrands  - Encore Cruises, Intair, Sunquest






Supplier
Agent Winners
Air Canada
Mike Gilmore, TailWind Travel
Air Canada Vacations
Sylvette Deveau, Deveau Travel & Cindy Almond, Romance & Foodie Travel
AMResorts
Top Producer - Cynthia Davidson, Beaches & Beyond
Top Producer Western Canada - Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Highest Sale increase - Dianne Marsden, The Travel Agent Next Door
AmaWaterways
Karen Gill, Plan A Vacation
Azamara
Linda Kettlewell, The Travel Agent Next Door
Bedsonline
Steph Switzer, Exclusive To You Travel Services
Celebrity Cruises
James Li, The Travel Agent Next Door
Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Steph Switzer, Exclusive To You Travel Services
Anna Abbandonato, Exclusive To You Travel Services
Maizy Alexander, The Travel Agent Next Door
Collette
Top Group Agent - Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Top Retail Agent - Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Crystal Cruises
Paula Stewart, Stewart Travel Group
G Adventures
Chen Yu, The Travel Agent Next Door
Gateways International
Stewart Travel Group
Anita Paton, The Travel Agent Next Door
Globus
Valerie Paton, BF Travel
Goway
Cathy Wiechnik, Xcursions
Insight Vacations
Wendi Gladstone, Unique Group Tours
Just You
Daphne Hart, You Go Girl Travel Group
Manulife
Karen Gill, Plan A Vacation
Travis Stewart, Stewart Travel Group
Norwegian Cruise Line
LeighAnne O'Neill, Once in a Lifetime Travel
Oceania Cruises
Bruce Chadwick, The Travel Agent Next Door
Playa Hotel & Resorts
Wendy Harrison, Lakeshore Travel
Princess Cruises
Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Rail Europe
Julie Gillen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Top Performer - Carolyn Lass, Burloak Travel
Top Travel Advisor Partner - Scott Waldron, Gravitate
Royal Caribbean International
Top Atlantic - Scott Penney, The Travel Agent Next Door
Top Prairies - Karen Davidson, Four Corners Vacations
Top BC - James Li, The Travel Agent Next Door
Top ON & Overall - Lee Ann Jensen, The Travel Agent Next Door
Sandals/Beaches
Most direct bookings - Ruth Guiry, Guiry Travel
Most registered bookings - Sylvette Deveau, Deveau Travel
Tourcan Vacations
Top performer - Wendi Gladstone, Unique Group Tours
Runner up -  Kim Lake, Getaway with Compass
Transat
Top overall sales - Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Top rising star -  Maureen Hummel, The Travel Agent Next Door
TravelBrands
Sharna Crouch, Kala Travel
Maria Garcia, RMG Travel Services
Viking River Cruise
Wilma Suurnakki, The Travel Agent Next Door
WestJet Airline
Dawn Uchida, Lets Get Out of Here
Dawn Negrey, Vacations by Dawn
Debbi Rempel, The Travel Agent Next Door
WestJet Vacations
Sharlene Philipchuck, A Whole World to Travel
Shelley Cota, Shelley's Sun & Sand Travel
Ruth Malcolm, The Travel Agent Next Door

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