After the annual TTAND conference was rescheduled multiple times due to the pandemic, Arlene Gibbons has her sights set on travelling to Jamaica at the end of October as it looks promising that the event will proceed as planned this time.
“I love Jamaica, it’s one of my favourite islands and it will be great to connect with my peers from coast to coast as well as our supplier friends,” Gibbons, who is based in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, tells Travel Courier. “We were originally to travel April 2020, then it moved to April 2021 and now we are all set to travel in October.”
Now that she’s only days away from her second vaccine appointment, Gibbons would also be open to attending fam trips this year, depending on the destination.
“For me, it is so very important to be able to see destinations firsthand to keep updated on valuable knowledge and expertise to pass along to my clients when planning and booking their holidays,” she says. “It will certainly be different than prior to the pandemic. I expect much smaller groups, maybe 10 or less, and, of course, to follow all the protocols for health and safety measures in place when travelling.”
On a personal level however, she doesn’t anticipate travelling until late November or early into 2022.
“St.Lucia is top of my list, followed by Mexico and Peru has been on my radar for a few years now,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Eric Cohen of Infinite Departures Travel, is kicking off the summer with several domestic trips with his family.
“The specific destinations will be Montreal and Quebec City in August. I will be blogging about my personal travel experiences on our website and social media channels” notes the Richmond Hill, Ont., based travel advisor. “Internationally, I hope to be able to travel to French Polynesia next, as they have recently re-opened the destination to Canadian travellers. This is one of the bucket-list destinations that I believe many travellers will want to visit as we emerge from the pandemic. It is an iconic destination with fantastic resorts, beautiful beaches and scenery, interesting cultural activities and amazing food and I can’t wait to visit in person.
Cohen is also interested in taking part in fam trips, especially to Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico, as he believes those are the top destinations their target market will be focused on in the shorter term.
“Fam travel will be especially important moving forward so that agents can evaluate the health and safety protocols which have been put in place by various suppliers, in addition to learning more about the suppliers’ travel products,” Cohen says. “In addition, participating in fams will allow agents to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the travel protocols to clients by actually experiencing the destinations in person.”
In terms of supplier and destination changes, he expects added health and safety protocols, as well as in-destination COVID testing procedures will be the biggest differences on upcoming fam trips.
On a similar front, Michelle Loran, manager of Vacations Away Inc., based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is hoping to get away to a tropical destination sometime in the winter.
“Fam trips are an important part of our learning curve and always assist in selling destinations,” she says. “I expect they will be smaller groups and possibly fewer excursions involved.”