Saturday,  August 8, 2020  11:53 am

ACV DreamMakers tour makes its final stop in Ontario

ACV DreamMakers tour makes its final stop in Ontario
Of Air Canada Vacations: Dana Gain, senior director of sales; Erminia Gallina, general manager, sales, Ontario; Nino Montagnese, managing director.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

It started in Calgary.

And then it moved to Vancouver, where the energy continued to swell.

Then it crept into Halifax, on a Friday night nonetheless.

When it got to Montreal, it brought the house down.

And by the time it finally came to Toronto, it took shape as a bustling, passionate crowd of more than 1,000 travel advisors.

Last night, Air Canada Vacations' (ACV) fifth annual ACV DreamMakers event unfolded at the Universal Event Space in Vaughan, Ontario, to show off highlights of ACV's 2019/2020 Sun Collection.

With more than 750 hotels (mostly all-inclusive) – 63 of which are new to the tour operator’s line up, four resorts that are exclusive to Air Canada Vacations, 28 semi-exclusive resorts, and more than 100 cruises featured in this year's 2019/2020 Sun Collection, there was plenty to talk about.

"When we talk about the theme of this year's product launches, it's that 'we're listening', and here are the changes that we're making," said Dana Gain, senior director of sales, Air Canada Vacations. "It's been a lot of work over the past year, and we've made a lot of enhancements in order to deliver that message, and make it easier for our partners to do business with us."

What is ACVDreamMakers, anyways?

"Every year, we try and host an event that celebrates our trade partners and to launch our new brochure and the products we offer," explained Nino Montagnese, managing director, Air Canada Vacations. "I've been in the business a long, long time, but for the past five years we've been hosting these ACV DreamMakers events, and it really is about the energy, and bringing our trade partners together in one room to enjoy each other, and enjoy what we do."

This year, the ACV DreamMakers event made five stops across Canada, last night being the final stop on the tour. And while the parties may be over, Montagnese says there will be plenty of regional training events up until the end of the year.

More than 1,000 travel agents and just over 70 suppliers were in attendance last night (Sept. 19) at the Universal Event Space in Vaughan, Ontario. 

The event started off with a trade show, followed by a series of presentations delivered by Dana Gain and Erminia Gallina, general manager, sales, Ontario, ACV.

As always, ACV's party delivered top-notch entertainment, including comedian Erica Sigurdson, as well as a special performance by Canadian singer Karl Wolf, who got the crowd going with some new songs and old favourites, such as his 2007 hit single Africa.

Karl Wolf entertains the crowd.

This year, ACV also handed out several awards in the following categories:

  • Exclusive Cruise Spotlight Collection Partner: Carnival Cruise Line
  • Best Luxury Product: Jade Mountain Resort
  • Rising Star Partner: Catalonia Hotels & Resorts
  • Award of Distinction: Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts
  • Award of Excellence: Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Sandals & Beaches Resorts
  • 2019 Diversification Award: Ensemble Travel Group
  • 2019 Groups Partner of the Year: TL Network
  • 2019 Online Travel Agency Partner: Red Label Vacations
  • 2019 Breakout Partner of the Year: TravelOnly
  • 2019 Network Partner of the Year: Transat Distribution Canada

The biggest Collection yet

ACV's 2019/2020 Sun Collection features more than 750 hotels (mostly all-inclusive) – 63 of which are new to the tour operator’s line up, four resorts that are exclusive to Air Canada Vacations, 28 semi-exclusive resorts, and more than 100 cruises.

"We maintained a lot of the destinations that we currently have, which includes more than 40 on the sun side, and we've added several hotel chains," explained Montagnese. 

"The newest and most interesting updates for our trade partners are the Spotlight Collection and the additions we've made with certain partners for that collection, and we've done the same with the Play Collection and the Play More program," Gain added.

The Spotlight Collection and the Play Collection both have been revamped to feature 175 new additions for the Spotlight Collection and 124 Play Collection resorts. ACV has also added the U.S. Spotlight and a Cruise Spotlight.

"We introduced the Spotlight Collection three years ago as an added value for your clients, and it only continues to grow," Gain said. "Basically what Spotlight means, is that if you purchase this particular product through Air Canada Vacations, we're giving you added value and added amenities that are exclusive to us, that you wouldn't get anywhere else. You might book the same property, but you're not going to get all of these extra value-added inclusions."

"The Play Collection is perfect for families because it lets you figure out which hotels are a perfect fit for kids, so you know where they can stay, play, and eat for free," added Gallina.

With the 2019/2020 Sun Collection, ACV has expanded the Play program to Florida, California, and Hawaii. Families can select from more than 140 hotels where kids aged 12 and under eat, play and stay for free, and families can benefit from priority boarding for the whole family on board Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge flights.

ACV congratulates TravelOnly on their 2019 Breakout Partner of the Year award.

New routes, new incentives

It's been an incredible year for ACV, and a good deal of this year's increased product is a direct result of the enhanced capacity and new routes on Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. "Overall, in the coming year we have an eleven per cent capacity increase, and we have some new routes out of some specific gateways across Canada," Gain said.

This winter, Air Canada Vacations is adding three additional new flights to its sun destinations – Quebec City (YQB) to Cancun, Mexico (CUN) will operate on Saturdays, starting on Dec. 21, 2019, while Quebec City (YQB) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ) will operate on Sundays, starting on Dec. 22, 2019, and a non-stop route from Ottawa (YOW) to Varadero (VRA), Cuba, operating on Mondays starting Dec. 23, 2019. 

The two new routes from Quebec City will be serviced on Air Canada Rouge Airbus A321 aircraft. In addition to the new routes, Air Canada Vacations has expanded its service with 24 new flights to the sun.

Also new this year, ACV is also rolling out its Agent at Home program, a brand new initiative for the home-based market. According to Montagnese, 80 per cent of ACV's business comes from its travel agents, and the new program aims to provide enhanced support to all agent partners.

Along with supporting its agent partners, ACV strongly believes in supporting its destination partners, even when times get tough.

"Travel can be fickle, you have ups, you have downs, and we've had a crazy year," Montagnese explained, citing weather disasters such as Hurricane Dorian, which recently hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm.

With that in mind, ACV announced that for every passenger booked into Nassau or Exuma between Sept. 19 and Dec. 31, 2019, a donation of $10 per person through the Air Canada Foundation to the islands of the Bahamas.

For more information on Air Canada Vacations, travel agents can contact their area sales manager, or visit Retail partners can also join a brand new closed Facebook group, which Montagnese says is a great space for agents to help one another with questions and advice.

See the photos from last night on our Facebook page, and stay tuned for our exclusive video!

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