It was a day of appreciation and celebration as the Canadian travel industry gathered for the inaugural Travel Agent Appreciation virtual event hosted by Baxter Media and Voyzant.
The event’s centrepiece was the presentation of the first annual Travel Agent and Beyond award. It wasn’t an easy choice considering the talent and dedication of the 18 agent nominees (all of them featured in the 2021 Travel Agent Appreciation issue) who were in the spotlight during the May 27 virtual Awards Ceremony.
The winner of the 2021 Travel Agent and Beyond Award was Shalene Dudley of Latitude Concierge Travels. Dudley was selected for receiving multiple outstanding nominations from her industry peers, being an innovative entrepreneur and for going “beyond” to make the industry better with the work she does with Let’s Get Uncomfortable.
“I’m flabbergasted, which doesn’t happen much,” Dudley said in an interview with Baxter Media’s Ann Ruppenstein following the announcement.
Dudley made the move into the travel industry after starting her career in construction and design. She told event viewers that she “always wanted to work in the hospitality industry” and “took a leap of faith,” eventually launching her own agency.
“The most rewarding part is engaging with my clients,” she continued.
The past year has been a challenging one for travel agents, with Dudley saying she took time to rebrand and has delegated work more to help her navigate current challenges.
Agents Are The Constant
Dudley was among a group of travel agents across the country who were nominated by industry colleagues and then recognized by Baxter Media.
“In this changing world, there’s one constant – the role of the travel agent,” said Baxter Media’s Wendy McClung. “We appreciate everyone who’s ever given their all in this important role – yesterday, today and tomorrow … Today we recognize them.”
McClung noted that travel agents have had to contend with crises before but “none more arduous” than the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Get Ready For The Rebound
Marketing guru Jennifer Neal urged agents to be prepared for a travel industry rebound.
“We cannot underestimate the swiftness of this recovery and be unprepared…,” she said. “The time is now to get your ducks in a row…
“Travel is on everyone’s lips.”
Neal also predicted that travel agents will be viewed very favourably by the public and “no one is going to want to book without you.”
She suggested that agents cultivate “uniqueness” in their business to attract clients, with “good positioning” able to build a reputation that can span borders.
ACTA president Wendy Paradis and TIAC president Beth Potter made presentations, providing those attending the event with updates and insights on initiatives their associations were putting in play.
Agents also had the opportunity to visit the more than 40 virtual exhibitor booths and chat and network with their favourite suppliers during the course of the Travel Agent Appreciation virtual event.
And naturally, there was a large assortment of prizes for the viewers who tuned in from coast to coast to win. Here are the big winners… thank you to the sponsors!
Two system wide passes on United Airlines courtesy of Voyzant:
Debbie Poisson, The Travel Agent Next Door
Roundtrip flight within Canada for two courtesy of WestJet:
Shawna Beaudoin, AMA Travel
$500 Future Travel Voucher courtesy of Collette:
Ana Tremblay, Algonquin Travel TravelPlus
SpectacularNWT Swag Bag courtesy of SpectacularNWT
Shauna Cook, Great Canadian Travel
$100 prepaid AMEX gift card courtesy of Scenic & Emerald Cruises
Susan Young, Kemp Travel
$100 pre-paid credit card courtesy of Huntington Travel
Diane Wells, Expedia Cruises
$100 pre-paid credit card courtesy of Club Med
Jennie Mohamed, Park Lane Travel
Tourism Australia duffle bag courtesy of Tourism Australia
Jennifer Meyer, Vision Travel
$100 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Tourism Australia
Renee Herman, TPI
Authentic First Nations bowl and platter set courtesy of Anderson Vacations
Shalene Dudley, Latitude Concierge Travels Ltd., The Travel Agent Next Door
$50 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Uplift
Laurie Umscheid, Vulcan Vacations
AMResorts Swag Bag courtesy of Uplift AMResorts
Theoni Mihalopoulos, Crowfoot Travel Solutions
Five x $25 Amazon Gift Cards courtesy of Manulife
Amanda Uhryn, Vision Travel Regina
Marie Larocque, Marlin Travel – Ontario
Arlene Gibbons, TTAND – Mount Pearl Newfoundland
Haley Whitelaw Ellison Travel and Tours
Hidar Elmais, Travel Gurus
Four x $25 Amazon Gift Cards courtesy of Pure Grenada
Christine Cameron-Ebel, Travel Professionals International(TPI)
Sharlene Philipchuk, TTAND
Amanda Uhryn, Vision Travel Regina
Sheryll Donovan, Northstar Travel
Four x $25 pre-paid credit card courtesy of Baxter Media
Susan Palanca, Crowfoot Travel Solutions
Erin Kemp, Kemp Travel Group
Clementina Iannuzzi, Dream Adventures
Danielle Freeman, Travel Only
Watch for more on Travel Agent Appreciation in the next issue of Travel Courier.