There’s a new Holland America Line out there, and the cruise line’s officials want you to know about it.
After spending his first five years tweaking and enhancing the product line, Holland America Line (HAL) president Orlando Ashford is now taking a hands-on approach to help get the message out about the “new” Holland America to trade partners, and ultimately consumers.
This included a visit to Toronto Nov. 26 for a “Live with Holland America Line” sales event, which attracted more than 150 travel agents. A similar event was held in Vancouver last month.
Orlando, who celebrates his fifth anniversary with the cruise line on Dec. 1, noted that the line was 140 years old when he joined, saying, “so clearly there’s a lot that this brand has done well and done well for a long, long time. My charge when I joined was to create some new energy, so that we could attract some new-to-HAL [cruisers] while maintaining our existing very loyal customer. It needed a punch of energy.”
The initial focus was on destination delivery (now 470-plus ports, 120 countries, and all seven continents), the culinary experience, entertainment and service.
“We have always been known for being able to go to more places because our ships are a little smaller, so that’s something we want to stay true to, and elevate,” said Ashford.
Regarding entertainment, “We’ve really focused on live music. I’d say, without hesitation, the best in the industry… the variety, the quality.”
Taking this to the next level is HAL’s unique Music Walk, featuring B.B. King’s Blues Club, the Lincoln Center Stage (highlighted by a five-piece orchestra), Billboard Onboard, and the Rolling Stone Rock Room.
“We worked to elevate our offering in each. And I’d say that it’s worked… in the areas that we’ve decided to really focus on, we’re delivering and delivering to the pleasure of our guests, which is what this is all about.”
Ashford’s goal now is to accelerate how well trade partners and travellers understand the “new” Holland America.
“We are fighting some perceptions that go back five, 10 years. Our guests tend to be 55-plus, retired, semi-retired, and that’s great. We love older, mature guests. They have the time, the dollars and the resources to enjoy what we offer and our product is structured that way,” he said. “Where I get frustrated is when people equate old with quiet, boring, slow. That’s not what people 55 plus want. They are at an age where they want to engage, they want to have music, they want to have wine, they want to be engaged when they’re in port, and we are working very aggressively to create a product that enables that.”
He added that his intention is, “to make sure that that message around the new or revised Holland America Line is getting to the trade and ultimately to the consumer… because I feel very confident that once we get the guest on board they tend to like what we offer. If you like destinations, if you’re a modern explorer, if you like food, and you consider yourself a foodie, and you like live music, and you like being served, you will like Holland America Line.
“I want to accelerate the understanding… there are people that are saying, ‘I haven’t been on a Holland America ship in 10 years,’ and if you’re selling based on where we were 10 years ago, it’s changed.”
Ashford noted the line’s Net Promoter Scores (a customer loyalty metric) are the highest in the history of the company for the last two years running, which shows “our product is a very good product.”
Air Canada has launched a next-generation Air Canada mobile app, now available for download on iOS and Android.
Designed with customers at the centre, the new app “features an intuitive layout supported by the latest technologies, to deliver faster, more reliable performance.”
From booking to boarding with one hand, the Air Canada mobile app is the ultimate travel assistant. It was developed after extensive consultation with customers and employees around the world, including the more than 18,000 flyers who participated in the Beta program.
Among its many features, in a first for a Canadian airline, the new app will display interactive airport maps of Toronto Pearson International Airport, Montreal Trudeau International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport. These detailed indoor maps will guide customers through flight connections, and help customers find gates, restaurants, restrooms, and the closest Air Canada lounge, along with estimated walking times.
Other notable features include real-time upgrade/standby lists, inbound flight tracking, downloadable boarding passes and automatic flight notifications. The app also supports Aeroplan profile sign-in with expedited ticket purchase and check-in.
Alicia Kielek has been sentenced to two years of probation, including 50 hours of community service, restitution totalling $6,440 (to be paid by Nov. 25, 2021) and an industry ban for the duration of the Order.
Kielek was convicted of two counts of operating as a travel agent without registration on Sept. 20, 2018.
Kielek was previously the supervisor/manager of Intercontinental Travel Bureau, a travel agency that was TICO-registered until its registration was revoked in 2015 due to alleged contraventions of the Travel Industry Act, 2002. Kielek continued to operate without registration, selling travel services to consumers, which they never received.
This is Kielek’s second conviction.
In 2016, Kielek pleaded guilty to five counts of operating as a travel agent without registration.
The most recent conviction and sentencing are in relation to two additional individual consumers who came forward with allegations against Kielek, before the first case concluded.
PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, has announced that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I passenger/vehicle ferry will be converted to electric power.
This innovative retrofit represents a unique technological advancement in the airport’s fleet, as the vessel will be the first 100% electric lithium-ion powered ferry in service in Canada. It’s anticipated that the ferry’s retrofit will be complete by the end of 2020.
The vessel’s propulsion system will be entirely powered by battery and fueled by 100% Bullfrog Power renewable electricity, enabling the electric ferry to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the airport’s ferry operation. In addition to operating more efficiently and eliminating related air emissions, the retrofitted vessel will build on the airport’s award-winning Noise Manage-ment Program, as it will operate far more quietly, dramatically reducing related noise in the surrounding community.
As part of PortsToronto’s sustainability program, a phased approach to greening the airport’s ferry operations began in 2018 when the Marilyn Bell I was converted from diesel to bio-fuel, which resulted in the reduction of approximately 20 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year. The electric-powered ferry is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with ferry operations by 530 tonnes, dramatically reducing the airport’s carbon footprint and setting the organization on a clear path toward achieving PortsToronto’s overall emissions target.
Flight Centre Travel Group and Allianz Global Assistance have put together an exclusive partnership to deliver travel protection and 24/7 emergency travel assistance to Flight Centre’s Canadian and US travellers.
Flight Centre Travel Group US customers will have access to Allianz Global Assistance products on Dec. 1, while Canadian customers will gain access on Jan.1, 2020.
The new partnership gives Flight Centre Travel Group’s advisors the ability to enhance their travel insurance knowledge and expertise through Allianz Global Assistance’s innovative training programs and dedicated sales support.
Flight Centre Travel Group will also benefit from knowing their clients’ journeys will be accompanied by a trusted leader in the travel insurance space. Allianz Global Assistance has offices in 44 countries, offering clients access to a worldwide network of nearly 70,000 medical facilities.
Of her godmother duties, Vieira said, “I am extremely honoured to be godmother to this beautiful ship. What a relaxing and magical way to travel through Europe. So come on board, raise a glass of bubbly, and, as I like to say, Take a little time to enjoy the VIEW.”
Vieira will christen the Avalon View in an international ceremony that will take place on April 6 in Ybbs, Austria.
“In our search for the perfect godmother for the Avalon View, we were inspired by Meredith Vieira,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways.
“As a difference-making broadcast journalist, executive producer and television host, she has given us a unique, up-close-and-personal view into her life – and the lives of countless others – with unparalleled storytelling, compassionate interviews and an extraordinary ability to connect with those she meets. We could not be happier to celebrate Meredith, and her many accomplishments, when she honours us as godmother, christening the Avalon View.”
After the christening ceremony, the 443-foot, 166-passenger Avalon View will join Avalon’s Suite Ship fleet to sail the Danube River in 2020.