Twentieth anniversary celebrations for travel brokerage company Tourico Holidays touched down in Toronto this week, less than a year after the company opened its first Canadian office in the city.
TH Live! Toronto, coincidentally held on Aug. 20, brought travel reps to Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle to mark the occasion and look back over the last 20 years. The Toronto reception, which served as a thank-you to Tourico’s Canadian travel industry partners, was sponsored by Washington tourism promoter Destination D.C. and is one of 20 similar events taking place around the world this year.
The company, founded by CEO Uri Argov and his wife in 1994 with $19,000, has rapidly expanded in the last decade, adding 15 offices around the world in 2005 alone and now operating in 29 locations globally. Deborah Kenton, Tourico’s Canadian business development manager, explained how the company has grown and kept current over two decades, from previously responding to inquiries through a single e-mail address to its current use of automated customer service system ZenDesk and products that have improved through technology, such as Tourico’s online ‘book by the door’ vacation home booking system which allows customers to see the property where they will be staying.
“Our approach is about supporting our partners and continually innovating our products for the future,” Kenton said. “Before, we had one person looking after all of North America, which was not an easy task. We also used to be a very manual organization. We used to have an e-mail address that received every type of request – it was slow and we had very limited support for our top clients.... The biggest feedback from clients we get is how improved our customer service is over the last few years.”
Tourico opened its Toronto office last November and since then, business has increased steadily, according to Kenton. With a team of three in Toronto contracting Tourico’s domestic products, the company has since added Fatima Hammouche as a business development manager based in Montreal to handle increasing demand in the Quebec and Maritime markets.
“Canada is actually, if not number one, our number two fastest-growing market globally at the moment,” said Kenton, who joined the Toronto team in April. “Since November, we’ve been getting to know our partners. We’ve had partners here for years but we’ve never had anyone based here in-market from a sales point of view working closely with them. It’s about taking it to the next level with the partners that we’ve got, while gaining new ones as we go along.... We see a lot of opportunity here in Canada to expand and gain new partners.”
Photo – (from left) Jason Soss, President of Global Business Development for Travel Holdings, Inc.; Matias Elisavetsky, vice-president Canada, Tourico Holidays; Deborah Kenton, Business Development Manager, Canada; Rose Gonzalez, Director of Product, Canada; Fatima Hammouche, Business Development Manager, Montreal; Kelsey Ingerto, Regional Marketing Manager, North America; and Javier Vidal, Regional VP of Sales, The Americas.