Sunday,  September 15, 2019  11:03 pm

Vision has its eyes on luxury leisure for 2019

Vision has its eyes on luxury leisure for 2019
Of Vision: Brian Robertson, president (left) & Stephen Smith, SVP – marketing & communications
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

Leisure travel - particularly the growth of the luxury segment – will be a key priority for Vision Travel as the company continues to grow in 2019.

Vision’s annual Power of Vision conference began yesterday in Toronto, welcoming its Ontario travel advisors to a weekend of networking and education, wrapping up another strong year for Vision, marked by its ongoing acquisition strategy and the growth of its partnership with U.S.-based Direct Travel and ATPI, which lead to the creation of Direct ATPI Global Travel last fall.

Hosting four separate events this year (in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal), the format of the 2018 POV conference itself is a testament to the growth of Vision over the last 12 months, as more and more agencies across the country join the company.

Reflecting on the preceding 12 months, Vision President Brian Robertson summed everything up with a few key figures.

“In a matter of a year, we went from a company with approximately 700 people doing $700 million in sales to more than 1,100 people with $1.2 billion in sales,” Robertson told PAX.

READ MORE: Vision expands in Ontario with latest acquisition

Looking ahead

According to Robertson, Vision will continue to grow in Canada over the next year through its acquisition process, explaining that “we’ll look to add to our presence where it makes sense,” adding that the company is actively seeking out agency owners looking for an exit strategy.

Much of that growth will take place in small- to medium-sized markets across Canada, he explained, allowing Vision to establish bricks-and-mortar offices in these locations, which will act as a meeting place for Vision’s independent contractors in these respective regions.

“We’re looking to add to our presence where it makes sense and fits best with our goals,” Robertson said.

While leisure travel has always been a part of Vision’s business, the company will put an increased focus on this aspect in 2019, adding that a long-standing perception of Vision as corporate travel agency is changing, thanks in part to recent consumer marketing, Robertson explained. Specifically, he added that the luxury travel sector plays a key role for Vision, which is partnered with luxury travel agent network Virtuoso.

Of Vision: (from left) Stephen Smith, SVP – marketing & communications; Lynda Sinclair, VP - leisure travel; Peter Van Der Heyden

The acquisition experience

Among Vision’s numerous 2018 acquisitions was Goliger's Travel Plus’ 12 Ontario locations, a move which also welcomed Goliger’s Travel Plus founders Peter and Linda Van Der Heyden to the Vision team.

While selling the business he established in 1986 “took a lot of soul searching,” Peter Van Der Heyden told PAX that one year later, the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

“Going into the acquisition, my number one concern was whether we were going to lose anyone as a result,” he recalled, “but not once has the word ‘redundancy’ been mentioned. It’s been a six-star experience and an absolute honour to join this all-star team.”

In addition to seeing sales increase at the company’s 12 locations, Van Der Heyden added that through the acquisition, he is able continue to contribute his expertise while passing along other responsibilities, such as financial and staffing matters.

“For me, the biggest change is not having to wear all of the hats,” he said. “Now, instead of wearing 10 hats, I only have five.”

Agents and suppliers network during the Power of Vision conference in Toronto