A Caribbean vibe with French flair, sister islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique, welcomed travel agents, partners and guests to the French Caribbean Sensations show in Toronto last week at Hotel X.
Celebrating two islands in one room, the tourist boards, along with suppliers like Club Med, Air Canada, Air Canada Vacations, and cruising partners were on hand to provide information to agents about these destinations that are growing in popularity.
The CEO of the Martinique Tourism Authority, Francois Baltus Languedoc, travelled from Martinique just to meet the agents in Toronto and tell them what makes Martinique so special. He describes it as a worry-free destination – safe, solid infrastructure, and European level health care. But the Isle of Flowers is really a cultural destination.
“It’s not just the beautiful beaches, palm trees, and nature, we have a lot of culture to share too,” explained Francois. “A thriving arts scene, incredible architecture, gastronomy, and the best rum in the world are really the elements that make us different.”
Part of the mission in visiting Canada was to push Air Canada for direct flights from Toronto to Martinique and Guadeloupe. The Canadian market is growing with Air Canada and Air Transat, combined, adding 11,000 more seats in 2020. Currently, Ontarians must catch early connecting flight through Montreal. Francois is hoping that will change in the next year or two, “we know already that Ontario is the second largest market in Canada for Martinique, so it does make sense that we get a direct flight because there is a huge potential in Ontario.”
Travel agents in attendance echoed the idea that a direct flight from Toronto would help them sell the destinations. “There are still a few people who say they’ve been to the other islands and I want to try something different, but flying is the issue because people from Toronto, no surprise, want a direct flight,” said Michelle Green, travel designer, Travel Edge. “They’re both beautiful islands, a little more laid-back and not as commercialized as other Caribbean destinations, and I think a direct flight would make a big impact on clients travelling there.”
Guadeloupe has an ambitious goal of increasing Canadian visitors in 2020.
“Right now we have 29,000 passengers from Montreal to Guadeloupe,” said Patricia Azor, director, Tourism Authority of the Islands of Guadeloupe. “But we want to see a 20% increase within the next year and industry event like this one will help us reach that goal.”
For agents interested in selling Martinique and Guadeloupe, ACV is offering two times the ACV & ME rewards points on any new package bookings made to Martinique and Guadeloupe between Feb. 12-28 for travel through April 30.
G Adventures has launched a new National Geographic Journeys Agent Specialist Program for Canadian travel agents.
It is designed to enhance knowledge and boost sales of small group trips offered in partnership with National Geographic Expeditions and is open for registration, with special incentives for agents who complete the course by the end of February.
The one-hour course, which is organized into four, learning modules, can be accessed from any desktop or mobile device at any time. It includes videos, quizzes and a final test that will help agents boost their product knowledge, while gaining insights into the core customers who are most likely to book.
In part one, agents will gain a deeper understanding of the National Geographic and G Adventures partnership, including its goals, background and unique positioning in the market. Part two dives into details about the culturally immersive experiences that set Journeys apart from other trips.
The third section provides research about the target Journeys traveller, including top travel interests and booking preferences, to help agents identify top prospects. The fourth chapter covers the new National Geographic Family Journeys itineraries, target customer and more. The four modules can be completed in one sitting, or in separate parts.
Upon completion of the course, newly certified Journeys Specialists will receive a personalized Journeys Specialist certificate and have access to tools and resources to help them sell National Geographic Journeys. Every Canadian agent that completes the course in February will be entered to win $2,000 towards a National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures trip.
Travel agents should get their sea legs ready because they’ll have more chances to spend time onboard Carnival ships this year.
Carnival Cruise Line has increased the number of ship tours by 25% to 200 – covering all 27 ships in the fleet – and nearly doubled seminar at sea sailings to 17.
With the introduction of the totally renovated Carnival Radiance this summer, Carnival will wrap up a decade-long US$2 billion fleet-enhancement program that has touched every Carnival ship and transformed the shipboard product. While tours will be focused on the newest products – Carnival Panorama in early 2020, Carnival Radiance in the summer and Mardi Gras in the fall – visits will be hosted on every ship.
Ship tours are offered free of charge and include lunch on board. They are hosted by a Carnival business development manager or director who conducts a guided tour of staterooms, public rooms and deck areas. Specially priced seminars at sea provide agents an opportunity to cruise and attend onboard training sessions while sailing as a guest and experiencing shipboard activities, facilities and amenities.
Agents interested in taking a tour or seminar should contact their Carnival business development manager or register at: