Representatives from all corners of the travel industry hit the links at Royal Ontario Golf Club yesterday (June 11), as the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) hosted its 31st annual golf tournament and dinner.
“The travel industry certainly loves coming together,” Doreen Lynch, ACTA's director of membership, told PAX, speaking on yesterday’s event. “It’s always a sell-out.”
The event, which includes a golf tournament complimented by breakfast, lunch and dinner, is known for welcoming a diverse group of people, Lynch said, with participants stemming from all areas of travel, from airlines, cruise companies and hotels to wholesalers and retailers to travel agents and agencies.
“It’s truly an industry function,” Lynch told PAX of the event, which welcomed 142 golfers and 195 attendees in the evening for dinner.
More than a day on the links
Golfers of all skill levels began arriving at the Milton, ON-based golf course at 8:30 a.m. to drop off their clubs and get organized; tee-off was promptly at 10 a.m.
“It was a day to remember, weather-wise,” Lynch said, referring to the day’s wild weather systems, which went from sunshine to rain to a torrential downpour to extreme humidity.
“They all hung in there,” Lynch said. “It spoke to everyone’s resilience.”
But for many, the day was more than just a round of golf.
“There’s a lot of networking that goes on,” Lynch said. “You get to see people, and say, ‘How are you?’ People get to reconnect and exchange business cards on a very friendly basis and see faces they haven’t seen in a long time.”
The tournament is an opportunity to welcome people who are new to the industry, too, Lynch explained.
And while many participants work in direct competition with one another, it’s people’s ability to put their differences aside that makes the day special.
“We’re learning from each other, despite our differences,” Lynch told PAX. “It’s an industry where we all care about the consumer and we care about the business of selling travel. Regardless of where everybody is in the picture, we all have a central focus, and that is the travel business community.”
ACTA’s driving message at this year’s tournament revolved around its pillars: Advocate, Educate and Elevate, Promote and Connect.
Comp Fund lobbying continues
The non-profit organization has also made it a priority this year to lobby the new provincial government for long overdue relief for the industry from the burdens of the Travel Industry Act (TIA) and the Travel Industry Compensation Fund funding model.
“Through our Ontario Member Travel Industry ACTA Survey, open forums, travel agency advisory council meetings and travel agency consultations, our members have told us that their primary concern is the unfairness of the Compensation Fund funding model and the financial and administrative hardship it causes their business,” reads a statement from Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA.
Paradis participated in yesterday’s event, but stepped out for a few hours, mid-tournament, to join the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), along with ACTA's Vice-President of Advocacy to lobby the Ontario Government at Queen’s Park.
These were the key messages they delivered:
- The Compensation Fund model is outdated and significantly broken. “It was designed in the 1970s, in an era of a cash-and-cheque economy, and before the internet and e-commerce,” Paradis stated.
- It is an unfair financial and administrative burden placed on Ontario travel businesses and is not sustainable in a global market, creating a disadvantage for Ontario travel companies and making them uncompetitive.
- The Compensation Fund does not work for consumers. “It is confusing, has many limitations and delays before paying,” Paradis stated. This includes requesting a charge-back if payment was made by credit card or requesting reimbursement from a travel insurance policy. “This, in turn, causes credit card processors to put a burden on the industry with higher merchant fees,” she stated.
- Ontario must move to a consumer-pay model like the one in Quebec and most other jurisdictions in the world for the Compensation Fund to be sustainable.
- The Compensation Fund is not based on any kind of risk profile. There is no perceived benefit from the Compensation Fund for Corporate Travel Agency clients, yet they pay significant amounts into the Fund. “It is like charging a 19-year-old and 90-year-old the same fee for a life insurance policy. It does not make sense,” Paradis stated. “The Fund currently sits at more than $23 million, and the government has been informed through an actuarial study commissioned by TICO that The Fund should be closer to $50 million,” Paradis noted.
Giving back and remembering
After a whirlwind day of lobbying, Paradis and crew did manage to make it back to ACTA’s golf event, just in time for dinner and cocktails.
Among the event’s memorable moments was a special toast to travel industry veteran Frank Orlando, who suddenly passed away on July 5th at the age of 63 after succumbing to a month-long illness.
The event also doubled as a fundraiser for Tourism Cares, a non-profit, philanthropic organization which helps travel industry members give back through various volunteer initiatives.
The day’s sponsors were as follows:
- Title Sponsor – Air Canada and the Air Canada Family - Air Canada Vacations, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Cargo.
- Major Sponsor – Manulife Insurance
- Dinner Sponsor – Enterprise Holdings
- Lunch Sponsor – TRAVELSAVERS
- Breakfast Sponsor – Myrtle Beach CVB
- Beverage Cart Sponsor – Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and BrokerLink Insurance
- Reception Sponsor – Excell IT
- Wine Sponsor – PATA Canada
- Dessert Sponsor – GMS - Global Marketing & Sales
- Photography Sponsor – Allianz Global Assistance
- Water Sponsor – Jamaica Tourist Board
- Putting Green Sponsor – Rail Europe
- Ice Cream Cart Sponsor - Travelport
- Partner Sponsors – Sabre, Park’N Fly and Western Union