Last night, Air Canada Vacations kicked off the first of 26 training sessions highlighting the 2019 Europe Collection, welcoming approximately 140 travel agents and partners including Avis, Tourism Ireland, and Visit Portugal.
The training sessions, of which the final one wraps up on Feb. 6 in Halifax, will be held nationwide so that agents interested in selling more Europe can take advantage of tips and guidelines offered by partners in attendance.
“We want to create some more awareness in the trade community, because we have a lot of Europe to sell,” said Dana Gain, senior director of sales, Air Canada Vacations.
This year, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Central Europe, and Iceland are the focus areas in ACV’s 2019 Europe Collection. Switzerland is a new destination that was just added this year.
A “bucket-list item”
According to Gain, those who go to Europe aren’t concerned with staying in their own timezones or staying close to home—it’s something that’s more à la carte that includes experiences rather than a packaged vacation.
From a cruise perspective, Gain mentioned that there’s a lot of opportunity for agents to earn a profit.
“Relative to the U.S. in particular, we have a big contingency of Canadians who travel to Europe, and what’s interesting is that it’s not limited to the typical places one might think,” Gain explained. “Europe is very popular in Quebec and Ontario, that’s intuitive, but what’s not intuitive, is that people in BC also love to go to Europe, even though it’s not as easy for them to get there. Despite that, we’re still seeing a huge interest.”
The Asian equation
While Europe is an easy sell for Central and Eastern Canada, both Gain and Luigi Iannello, senior director, strategy and business development, ACV, agree that Western Canadians are more inclined to go to Asia, citing travel time and cost-to-value ratios as the leading factors.
So, how do agents effectively change that mindset?
“Once you start comparing pricing between Asia and Europe, Asia automatically becomes more accessible, given the extra capacity to Asia from Vancouver as well as the cost of living in Asia, which is cheaper,” Iannello explained. “We focused instead on creating turn-key product, a one-stop shop with all of your inclusions pre-booked. For example, in Greece, we include multiple islands, ferry tickets, and transfers. If you did this yourself on a FIT basis, you’d have to make five or six individual bookings. Let’s say there’s a delay on the ferry—you have to start all over. With us, everything is taken care of for the customer.”
Taking care of details
As part of its 2019 Europe Collection, ACV has partnered with local guides in destination to elevate the customer experience, be it a scenic adventure by rail, or an island-hopping escape by ferry. From the time of booking, right down to the experiences in destination, ACV ensures customers move from point A to point B without any disruptions.
As the trade community becomes increasingly aware of ACV’s Europe offerings, Gain is confident that the brand will be recognized for more than just its sunny escapes.
And, as for the LCC’s that have started offering cheap flights to Europe?
“We dare people to compete with our prices,” Iannello said. “We have very attractive rates, and we don’t make you put together seven or eight bookings to make your ultimate European vacation package.”