National Sales Manager, Canada, ROCKY MOUNTAINEER
The New Year is here. What’s giving you hope for the future?
The resilience of everyone in our industry gives me hope and inspires me every day. Over the past year I’ve seen so many friends and colleagues go through hard times, yet we continue to come out the other side with a sense positivity. I’ve been truly inspired by those around me who find the positives in difficult times. With this outlook, the future really is bright for us all. I’m looking forward to once again having happy conversations, where I can share and hear positive news and feedback both from our partners and their guests.
“Now, as we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel and as part of our recovery, we are trying to engage with our travel community with enticing consumer pricing and a great new agent incentive. We recently launched a new incentive, exclusively for Canadian travel agents: if you make three 2021 bookings for Canadian residents, you will earn a complimentary journey on Rocky Mountaineer for your own travel. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this and, so far, our partners have been really excited about it.”
How have you been coping during the pandemic and how have you been keeping busy?
Like many of us, I’ve had my ups and downs, both tears and laughter during the pandemic. I’ve never spent so much time at home in my working life, but I’ve been keeping as busy as possible with work and hobbies. I’m a keen baker and many of you may have sampled some of my cakes at events over the years. I’ve spent the extra time at home honing those skills and I’ve almost perfected the Fault Line cake, which has been a challenge of mine for some time now.
We’ve never had a television at home, but with so much time spent at home I’ve finally succumbed to installing one – it sure beats Netflix on my laptop and I’ve discovered Prime! I love the British shows you can get on it and now look forward to watching an episode or two in the evening, which is very unlike the pre-COVID me. My sixteen-year-old daughter still doesn’t know how to turn the television on, so I get free rein over what we watch! I am really enjoying Yellowstone at the moment.
One of the exciting developments is that Rocky Mountaineer is heading to the US. Tell us a bit about that?
We’re really excited about our new Rockies to the Red Rocks route that we’re launching in summer 2021. It will be a two-day rail route that connects Denver, Colorado and Moab, Utah with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. For Rocky Mountaineer to add a new route, it needed to be in a special location with many of the same features we have in Western Canada – incredible scenery, iconic destinations, and the option for an all daytime, multi-day train journey. This new route will be the perfect complement to our three Canadian routes, and I know it will appeal to both past guests and new guests alike. While our Canadian Sales team is certainly focusing on domestic travel this year, we believe this new route will be a really exciting opportunity when Canadians start travelling internationally again.
What have been some of your strategies to keep the trade engaged over the last year? How are you staying connected with travel advisors during this time?
2020 was a year like no other, but we know how important our travel advisor partners are and we wanted to do our best to keep up our good relationships. In the spring and summer, we focused on keeping in touch with our partners, either by phone conversations or over Zoom, to ensure we had open lines of communication. Now, as we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel and as part of our recovery, we are trying to engage with our travel community with enticing consumer pricing and a great new agent incentive. We recently launched a new incentive, exclusively for Canadian travel agents: if you make three 2021 bookings for Canadian residents, you will earn a complimentary journey on Rocky Mountaineer for your own travel. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this and, so far, our partners have been really excited about it.
We’ve also continued to engage with webinars, training, and virtual trade shows. Last summer we produced some compelling storytelling videos, that covered topics like the engineering marvels seen from the train, and the landscapes and bears you might see from the train. More recently, we released videos to help people research what to do in our main destinations in the Canadian Rockies. These videos are all for partners to use on their own channels to show their clients what to expect from a journey on Rocky Mountaineer.
Do you have anything you want to share with travel agents?
Please don’t feel deflated, there is good news: there seems to be strong desire from Canadians to travel. We’ve seen there is interest from consumers to travel and people are booking, especially domestically. At Rocky Mountaineer, we are currently offering our best-ever pricing for Canadian Residents to travel with us in 2021, with savings of up to $700 per person. We’re also offering our enhanced booking flexibility, which includes a risk-free deposit and two free date changes should travellers need to change their travel dates. We know Canadians will be looking to travel domestically in 2021 and we really hope this promotion will entice them to explore British Columbia and Alberta with Rocky Mountaineer.
Is there something that you think people may not know about Rocky Mountaineer?
In November, Rocky Mountaineer was recognized by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2021 awards for efforts around sustainability. We’re really passionate about our commitment to sustainability, and our focus to protect the areas the trains travels through and support local communities. Our team also support charities with fundraising and in-kind donations. One organization that is close to my heart is Critter Care, which supports the treatment, care, and release of sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife in B.C. We know people who travel on our trains are impressed by the incredible scenery, delicious cuisine, and our attentive service, but we also want them to be assured about our commitment to sustainability as well. For example, the company plants trees with Trees Canada to honour the employment anniversary of each team member. More than 13,500 trees have been planted since 2008!
Another thing people are often surprised about is the number of guests we have hosted on the train. Since the company started 30 years ago, we’ve have welcomed more than 2.2 million guests on our trains.
There’s been a lot of talk about the travel industry coming out better on the other side of COVID-19. What are your hopes?
I am so pleased to see fellow Canadians looking to explore our country more. People are realizing you don’t have to travel internationally to have a dream vacation – we have so much to offer here. We saw a similar trend in 2017 with Canada’s 150th anniversary, but soon after international travel started to dominate again. This past year has shone a spotlight on the importance of supporting home-grown, local businesses and travel experiences, which we have so many of across the country. I hope Canadians choose to explore our beautiful country when it’s safe to do so in 2021 and beyond.
How has travel impacted your life?
Many of us start working in travel because it is our number one priory – it is for me. Travel has pretty much impacted everything about me and my family’s life. I applied for my daughter’s first passport when she was just two months old and she’s already had six passports in 16 years! Almost everything I do reminds me of travel, from the dinners I make to the shows I watch. It’s a chance to reflect on past trips I’ve experienced and dream about future plans.
Do you have anything to add?
We’ve all been on one hell of a rollercoaster this past year and I send my best wishes to all of my colleagues in travel. I know we are all working so hard to help our industry and colleagues recover as quickly as possible. I have big hopes for the summer of 2021 and look forward to celebrating even more successes to come.