|AIR CANADA VACATIONS TALKS WINTER PRODUCT|
| Nino Montagnese discusses Travel With Pride, Huatulco, new flights and more with TRAVELHotNews.com|
Air Canada Vacations recently made its winter program available for sale and for the upcoming winter selling season the tour operator has added new flights from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver; added a new destination; and booked its first ever resort block exclusively for LGBT and LGBT-friendly travellers.
|Nino Montagnese, vice president of sales and marketing, Air Canada Vacations
New to Air Canada Vacations’ winter program this year is the Mexican destination of Huatulco. Located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Huatulco offers a wide variety of accommodations from hotels to luxury resorts.
“We are the only weekend flight to Huatulco from Ontario,” said Nino Montagnese, vice president of sales and marketing, Air Canada Vacations.
“The flight time allows for connections,” he explained. “It departs from Toronto at 10:20 a.m., so that leaves more than enough time for a lot of our gateways to connect into Toronto to catch that flight.”
The tour operator has also added flights from Toronto to Great Exuma.
Last year’s addition of St. Kitts and Nevis to the ACV winter portfolio was a big success for the tour operator, according to Montagnese, which is why the destination is back this year.
“It did extremely well. It proved that the trade and the consumers wanted a new product,” Montagnese told TRAVELHotNews.com.
“Normally, the first year, you expect it to break even or even come in a little below. But this actually made money and did well... People have been to a lot of the destinations that [Canadian tour operators] all carry, so they’re [searching] for something new. We gave them St. Kitts and Nevis last year and this year we will give them Huatulco.”
In addition, last year’s Montreal to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo flight has been moved to Saturdays in order to facilitate departures.
“The trade and the consumer asked for [Montreal to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo flights] last year, so we added them, and now they’re back, but with a better departure time,” said Montagnese.
Other changes for Montreal flights this year include Antigua on Sundays and Turks & Caicos on Sundays.
Travel With Pride
“For the first time, we have blocked an entire resort for the [LGBT] market. We are going to be the first tour operator in Canada to ever have blocked an entire resort for that market,” Montagnese revealed to TRAVELHotNews.com.
|Isla Mujeres Palace
Under the banner Travel with Pride, Air Canada Vacations has booked the entire Isla Mujeres Palace resort, located in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, for the week of Jan. 20, 2013.
PriceGuard, ACV’s peace of mind guarantee designed to assure customers that the price they pay for their vacations is the best possible price, is back this year because of a strong reception from clients, and two Huatulco resorts are covered as part of the program.
Montagnese also said that Air Canada Vacations’ early booking bonuses are back and have now been extended until Oct. 31, 2012, giving agents and their clients an additional month to take advantage of the offer.
Flying at a glance now listed by gateway
“We ask the trade for feedback every year on the brochure. When we go into our planning for the next year we have all the comments that come from the trade. One of the comments that came from the trade was that the Flying at a glance – which used to be based on destination – was difficult to read,” Montagnese said.
Because of this trade request, Air Canada Vacations has broken down the Flying at a glance section into gateways, rather than destination, for this year’s brochure.
“This year the trade can see that from Toronto we go to all these destinations. Or from Montreal, we go to all these destinations. So when a customer comes into any agency across the country... it’s easy for the trade to point out the destinations. We’re just trying to make it easier for our partners. “
Training sessions in the fall
Air Canada Vacations will host a series of 33 training sessions across the country beginning in September and continuing into October in which agents can familiarize themselves with the Air Canada Vacations winter program further.
“We focus on training versus a big show. We want to have training sessions so that agents can come in and talk about PriceGuard, StormGuard and everything that is new with us,” said Montagnese.