Porter Airlines celebrated its recently-expanded service to Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Toronto yesterday (Jan. 11), welcoming representatives from the airport and several Florida destinations to a lunch event at the downtown Leña restaurant. With the airline having recently added flights to MLB from Ottawa and Windsor until March 31, in addition to its service from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport until April 7, Michael Curmi (director, agency sales and distribution) was on hand to introduce the Florida reps and highlight the variety of attractions located near the airport.
Robert Himler, marketing and communications representative for the Orlando Melbourne airport, hailed Porter’s service from downtown Toronto – saying that it gave Canadians the opportunity to escape the winter cold and arrive in the Florida sunshine in as convenient a manner as possible.
“I think the weather is really going to be perfect for the community here in downtown Toronto, as well as the outskirts,” he told PAX. “It [the service from YTZ] gives them an opportunity to get to Florida in three hours.”
Himler noted the importance of getting out the message about the range of attractions within touching distance of the airport, highlighting the visiting representatives’ strong commitment to the travel trade. “We’re here to educate the travel community here about what we have down there,” he said.
“Myself with the airport, as well as the whole team that came up – we all work together really well to showcase how you can fly non-stop [in] three hours, be right at the beach in a matter of minutes when closest to the port, you can hop on any cruise to the Caribbean, be right next to places like the Kennedy Space Center; [it’s] just a short drive from Orlando and all the parks there as well.”
Orlando Melbourne Airport itself, Himler said, is one of the fastest airports for U.S. entries, capable of processing more than 400 passengers per hour. The airport has recently completed a U.S. $9 million renovation, and passengers arriving at the airport will receive an authentic Florida welcome – courtesy of a team of international ambassadors on hand with fresh orange juice upon arrival.
Porter representatives in attendance at the event.
Sandra Costa, commercial manager – vacations and packaged products for Porter Escapes, said that the expanded service dovetailed well with the range of experiences offered in the area by Porter Escapes.
“We offer packages [such as] flight and hotel to Melbourne, but also into the Orlando and Kissimmee areas and into Cocoa Beach,” she told PAX. “[From] Melbourne Airport, you can be off your plane with your bags and on the road to Disney World within 45 minutes. We’re all about ease for customers.”
That said, Costa was keen to emphasize the plethora of offerings for visitors outside the area’s most famous attractions. “The key is education for the trade, and for the agents to know that there is so much to do in Melbourne itself and in the area,” she said.
“Somebody once said it’s not just about Mickey Mouse, because the area has so much to do … for agents who are maybe looking for something non-traditional [in] Florida, and customers looking for something unique.”
Highlights from the destination representatives present included:
Space Coast – Bonnie King, marketing director, Space Coast Tourism, described the area as the ‘east coast surfing capital’ with a world pro surfing event, the Florida Pro Surf Competition, set to take place at the end of January. The coast boasts 72 miles of beach – and the closest beaches to the Orlando area.
Courtyard Marriott Cocoa Beach – located less than 30 minutes from Orlando Melbourne International Airport, the hotel’s proximity to Port Canaveral means that it’s a good option for cruise packages, according to Maria Sheldon, director of sales and marketing. Incentives for agents include complimentary welcome amenities for guests and 10 per cent commission.
Courtyard by Marriott Melbourne West – The hotel will be launching a new menu in March – Bistro 2.0. Events specialist Chiara Kafer also noted its convenient location, close to Downtown Melbourne and various beaches and golf courses.
Kennedy Space Center – the renowned attraction allows guests to get a closer look at the space program of the United States – including the future launch site for a Mars expedition. Gabriele Cornish, global tour and travel group sales representative, said that many people don’t realize how conveniently-located the Space Center is in relation to the airport.
Melbourne Main Street – ‘big-time fun but a small-town personal touch’ is on offer in downtown Melbourne, said executive director Jarin Eisenberg, with notable attractions including the Hell ‘n Blazes Brewing Company – a family-owned brewery offering 12 beers on tap.
Canaveral Port Authority – Matthew Milhoan, manager, business development cruise, tourism & hospitality, noted Port Canaveral’s status as the second-largest cruise port in the world, in addition to its proximity to the Orlando Melbourne Airport. A digital version of the Port Canaveral cruise guide is offered at www.portcanaveral.com/cruiseguide.