Travel Agent Appreciation
Travel Courier
Issue Date: Jun 21, 2018
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A night to remember

First Annual Agents' Choice Gala – 'Just Like The Oscars'

The awards


“It’s just like the Oscars,” was the oft-repeated phrase that was heard by those networking their way through the throngs attending the first-ever Agents’ Choice Gala at Toronto’s Eglinton Grand last week.
It was a night when the stars of the Canadian travel industry shone brightly, as Baxter Media – along with presenting sponsors, Air Canada and Sandals Resorts International; feature sponsors, WestJet, TravelBrands and the Jamaica Tourist Board – welcomed a sold-out crowd for the first annual Agents’ Choice Gala.
In all, 350 agents and suppliers celebrated the presentation of the 2018 Agents’ Choice awards to the Favourite suppliers in 43 categories – ranging from airlines to cruise lines; tour operators to destinations; car rentals to airports – and the list goes on and on.
There was also Hollywood-like excitement, as the superbly talented Nova Sounds Band led by Dr. Alan Shiner and including double JUNO Award winner Sonia Collymore, entertained the VIP industry crowd throughout the evening, as they enjoyed a dinner that featured Mediterranean salad; a main course of filet mignon and shrimp-stuffed sole; and lemon meringue tart for dessert.

You are our favourites

The evening began with a welcome from Baxter Media’s executive vice-president, Wendy McClung, and executive editor, Bob Mowat.
McClung told the crowd: “Tonight, we celebrate all 6,027 travel agents who spoke up and voted in the 19th Annual Agents’ Choice Awards Readership survey. Tonight, we celebrate the 28 sales reps who were voted the top in their field. Tonight, we celebrate the 250 companies, destinations and support services represented in the Favourites lists in this year’s survey. If you are among the top 10 Favourites in a category, you are somebody’s favourite – be proud of that achievement.”

The 2018 W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Goway’s founder and president, Bruce Hodge, during the Agents’ Choice Gala last week. Seen in the photo, from l to r, are Baxter Media’s David McClung; Hodge with his award; and Rod Hurd, long-time friend of Hodge and a pioneer in student travel with TravelCUTS.

As for Mowat, he told the gathering: “I am so pleased to welcome all of you to the first annual Agents’ Choice Awards Gala because it gives me the opportunity to tell you that – from all of us here at Baxter Media – each and everyone of you are our FAVOURITES. Not only for what you do each and every day, but for the support that you have shown our company for 50 years and, for that, we can’t thank you enough.”
One of many special surprises during the evening was the presentation of the W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award to the founder and president of Goway Travel, Bruce Hodge.
In fact, it was not the only award for Hodge, as the company he founded was also picked by agents as their Favourite Tour Operator to Africa and to Asia Pacific.
Those attending the Gala were also the first to receive a copy of the 2018 edition of the Agents’ Choice Readership Survey
As for reactions of those attending the first-ever Agents’ Choice Gala, Paul Larcher of VoX International, noted that: “It was great to see a lot of industry friends from over the years. It was really an entertaining and inspiring evening.”
Uniworld’s Michelle Palma said of the first-ever gala: “What a great night. It was so exciting. We’ll be back again next year.”