Exoticca, a "NextGen” tour operator known for its private and customizable travel experiences, made its entrance into Canada's B2B market in January 2022.
Fast forward to Tuesday night (Oct. 17), at Toronto's Old Mill Inn and Spa, and Exoticca's dynamic sales team, including its Spain-based chief growth operator, Alberto Constans, was greeting nearly 250 travel agents while launching the first leg of a 12-city Canadian roadshow.
TAP Portugal also participated in the event as Exoticca's airline partner.
The company said this nationwide tour is a gesture of gratitude to the travel agents who have played a key role in propelling the company to success in Canada in less than two years.
The nationwide event is also an opportunity for the trade to get a closer look at the company's upcoming plans, including the 2024 FAM schedule with 12 trips planned – all offering agents a chance to experience Exoticca's tours firsthand.
The roadshow format includes a theatre-style opening presentation, 4-course plated dinner, and certification training sessions for agents in all 12 cities.
Following Toronto, stops across Canada include London (Oct. 18), Ottawa (Oct. 19), Montreal (Oct. 30), Halifax (Nov. 1), St. Johns (Nov. 2), Winnipeg (Nov. 7), Saskatchewan (Nov. 9), Edmonton (Nov. 14), Calgary (Nov. 15), Victoria (Nov. 21) and Vancouver (Nov. 23).
Then there’s a $10,000 grand prize up for grabs to spend on any product with Exoticca for two. Agents across the country who qualify will have a chance to be included in the draw which will take place at the end of November when the roadshows conclude.
“We’re committed to you”
Constans welcomed attendees and said: “Thank you for trusting the team. Thank you for trusting Exoticca. We are very, very committed to Canada, and very committed to you.”
Constans continued to explain two commitments that agents can expect from the company in the coming years: to provide the best value products in the industry regardless of the destination, and to prioritize travel agents over other sales channels, not just in terms of pricing, but also in booking selection and service.
In an interview with PAX, Mike Quinto, managing director for Canada, reported that many changes were made during the past year “for the better."
“We’ve come quite a long way and taken a lot of agents’ thoughts, opinions, and consideration to redesigning our product and relaunching it and that’s what this whole Canada Roadshow is all about,” Quinto explained.
“You guys keep on asking, we keep delivering,” said Quinto. “We value your opinions.”
Exoticca has responded to travel agent feedback by making improvements such as quadrupling the groups' division and tripling its call centre capacity.
According to Exoticca, with sales representatives already strategically positioned across the country (with more to come), agents have access to the necessary tools and resources for success.
Diana Winters, well-known director of sales for Eastern Canada, shared with the audience the company's goal: " A lot of you guys have asked me, where did you guys come from? It's like we (Exoticca) literally dropped out of the sky and into the industry and nobody knew what was going on. And we're here because we plan on being your number one go-to for tours. This is the plan, this is the goal.”
Sharon Wilson manages Alberta and the prairies, while Cindy Chau handles British Columbia and Yukon. And Exoticca says representatives for the Quebec and Maritime trade markets are in the works.
Constans reiterated Exoticca's commitment to Canadian travel agents:
“I just announced today (Oct. 17) that we're going to create a vertical independent organization. We realize that Canada is very different from the U.S., so we have created an independent entity that's going to be led by Mike Quinto to provide you the best service, the best product for you. We're here to stay. We're here again to be the best tour operator and the largest tour operator in Canada.”
The secret sauce
Offering more than 300 trips in 60 destinations, Exoticca has taken fast strides with the travel trade specializing in private and customizable travel at “truly unbelievable prices” at the click of a button.
Exoticca shared many examples of this with the audience, including the "amazing prices over to Portugal, where you can go on a 10-day tour with direct flights on TAP Portugal for CAD $1,700 per person."
Exoticca's secret sauce, as explained by Constans, consists of two components. First, its advanced technology allows for real-time pricing (instant quotes) and the availability of comprehensive travel packages, simplifying the booking process.
Secondly, Exoticca’s direct collaboration with partners in destinations bypasses intermediaries, reducing costs, and providing the best value for travel agents and their clients.
From the onset, Exoticca has differentiated itself by providing a distinctive approach to travel, and as Quinto highlighted, "We actually have product that no other company is offering."
Unlike the traditional mainstream tour operators in North America, Quinto said Exoticca embraces a more European style of touring, which allows travellers to have a unique and personalized experience.
Quinto explained that their distinctive tours and focus on value have made a big impact on the travel trade markets they serve.
So much so that Constans mentioned they're likely to achieve CAD $250 million in bookings by the end of 2023.
Choosing your own adventure
Exoticca's products focus on travellers' freedom to choose their own adventure.
According to Quinto, the level of customization is unparalleled in the industry and allows travellers to “fine-tune their itinerary” precisely to one’s preferences.
What distinguishes Exoticca is the freedom and flexibility it offers in destination. Unlike the conventional approach of keeping groups together throughout the day, Exoticca says its itineraries provide optional excursions, allowing travellers to select activities that align with their interests.
Agents, take note
After registering on Exoticca's travel agent portal, agents will receive an email to participate in a 30-minute one-on-one onboarding training session, which covers various aspects of the online system's features, including booking in real-time, making changes, tracking commissions and utilizing the Exoticca app.
"Everything they need to be successful in booking Exoticca products," said Quinto.
For completing the onboarding session, agents will receive a $200 voucher.
The portal also provides agents with a marketing suite offering images and pre-designed flyers with customization options.
In the future, an addition will allow agents to white-label tours, letting them create and brand group tours as their own, Quinto explained.
Through the certification course offered by Exoticca, agents can earn additional commissions.
By becoming preferred partners, agents can access exclusive commission rates, notably a 16 per cent commission on the final price of the tour (on all components, including air and no recalls!) - a unique feature that sets Exoticca apart as Quinto emphasized, "We're one of the only companies right now doing this.”
Theme of the month
Exoticca's "theme of the month" is Asia, featuring select tours in Japan; Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Thailand; and, Malaysia & Borneo.
When booking any of these featured tours, agents will earn an additional $200 in commission per booking on top of the existing commission.
For any bookings between October 9 and 31, 2023, a $700 Exoticca travel credit per booking will be provided for clients to use by the end of March 2024.
According to Exoticca, the best part is that “you will receive a voucher for your clients to be redeemed through you.”
Starting in 2024, Exoticca's loyalty program will introduce "super special deals" for travel agents.
The program will feature multiple tiers based on production, with an opportunity to earn up to an additional $10,000 in commission annually.
2024 FAM trips
Dates and applications to sign up for 12 available FAMS will be announced soon. Destinations include South Africa, Namibia, Egypt, Peru, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Portugal, India, Japan, Turkey and Thailand.
To receive FAM invitation information, Exoticca’s team invites agents to join the Exoticca Travel Pro Canada Facebook group and register on its travel agent portal here.