Building loyalty

When the results of Baxter Travel Media’s annual Agents’ Choice Awards were tallied, it quickly became apparent that many of the favourites have come out on top multiple years in a row – some for more than a decade, others still since their respective categories were first introduced, reports assistant editor, Ann Ruppenstein in a special Agents’ Choice Extra in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.

So how exactly do these brands continue to earn the trust and loyalty of Canadian Travel Press and Travel Courier readers and travel agents across the country?

For Michelle Palma, vice president, sales – Canada at Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, ensuring clients come back happy is key to earning and maintaining the trust of agency partners.

“Every time I host a training seminar or attend a trade show, agents will tell me their clients recently returned from a Uniworld cruise and absolutely loved it,” she says. “They talk about how it was the best food and service they have ever experienced and how they can’t wait to cruise with us again.”

She points out Uniworld maintains a high repeat factor and industry leading NPS (Net Promotor) scores, which reflect the efforts of the on-board staff and crew.

“Agents know when they contact the Uniworld sales team, we are quick to respond and are always here to help them, whether it’s to close a sale, build a group, or develop a business plan,” she adds.

Similarly, Sandy Stevens, vice president of sales and guest relations at Paul Gauguin Cruises, says it comes down to the quality of the product clients experience. Being the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in its destination, she says travel agents can rest assured knowing travellers will have a great time on-board.

“Travel agents who send their clients aboard a voyage on Paul Gauguin Cruises will know their clients will be well taken care of and have the vacation of lifetime in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world,” she says. “We focus on bringing the destination alive authentically on our voyages and providing exceptional service. We have great expertise in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific.”

At WestJet, director of agency sales Jane Clementino agrees it’s all about providing friendly, caring guest experiences.

“We know that travel agents care as much about their clients as we do, so we’ll keep focusing on creating those unforgettable travel experiences,” she says. “We’ll continue to give them resources and tools like the WestJet travel agent resource site that support their learning, increase their productivity and help them serve their clients the best they can.”

Meanwhile Maureen Barnes-Smith, director of sales & marketing for Unique Vacations Canada Inc., says the constant evolution of the Sandals product is a big factor in gaining – and more importantly, keeping – the trust of travel agents.

For the full story check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.