It was an early morning start to say the least!
But by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday (Nov. 19th), several familiar faces from Air Canada Vacations (ACV), and a cluster of travel advisors could be seen emerging through the customs line at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
PAX is currently en route to Antigua, where we'll be reporting On Location, covering part two of ACV's Mega FAM series!
"We chose destinations for this year’s MegaFAMs that support our product diversification efforts; the English Caribbean is high on that list," Dana Gain, senior director, sales, groups & partnerships, ACV, told PAX. "We also like to change it up each year to keep it interesting for our trade partners, and at the same time offer a variety of experiences so that the agency community can benefit from a broader knowledge base when selling Air Canada Vacations.”
After wrapping up the first MegaFAM in Jamaica, which ran from Nov. 5th-8th, the Antigua MegaFAM will be the second of three, running now through Nov. 22nd. The third and final MegaFam will take place in Curacao from Nov. 26th-29th.
"As of the end of October, we had approximately 22,000 Canadian visitors, about the same as the previous period," Tameka Wharton, senior sales and marketing manager, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), told PAX. "We really hope to increase those numbers starting with this winter season. This is why we are excited about this charter of travel professionals, because we believe there is so much potential in Canada for us!"
What to expect
This week, travel agents will participate in site inspections at 11 of ACV's properties in Antigua, which include:
- Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa
- Blue Waters Resort and Spa
- Ocean Point Resort and Spa
- Starfish Halcyon Cove
- Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa
- Hawksbill by Rex Resorts
- Pineapple Beach Club
- Verandah Resort and Spa
- Hammock Cove Resort and Spa
- St. James's Club and Villas
- Starfish Jolly Beach Resort and Spa
"Antigua and Barbuda is the perfect getaway for our friends from Canada, full of charm and character," Wharton told PAX. "My hope is that each agent will leave with a better understanding of what differentiates Antigua and Barbuda from other sun destination, and through that, be better able to qualify clients."
Wharton called Antigua and Barbuda a "nautical gem" that offers everything from all-inclusives to other types of accommodations that let travellers customize their trips.
"ACV has been able to package the crème del a crème and those are what the agents will be seeing," Wharton said.
At the airport this morning, PAX caught up with a few agents from Expedia CruiseshipCenters based in Burlington, ON, who were eager to get started.
"We're all very excited to see the different resorts Antigua has," said Jennifer Hauser, speaking on behalf of the group.
The ACV Antigua MegaFAM will host 120 travel agents at four properties: the Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa (where PAX is staying), Verandah Resort & Spa, St. James's Club & Villas and the Pineapple Beach Club.
As a friendly reminder, agents on the trip are encouraged to tag any social media posts with #ACVANUFam for the chance to win a social media prize.
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