Industry Gathers For The ‘Social Event Of The Summer’

TravelOnly members are clearly willing to travel.

TravelOnly agents Pat Probert and Mary de Almeida organized an Aug. 19 travel industry Toronto gathering that Probert notes drew TravelOnly members from far and wide.

“Agents travelled from Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie, Windsor, London, St Catharines, Keswick and many other places … It was just amazing that they come from all over the province to be here,” Probert reports.

Indeed, a particularly prominent TravelOnly figure was on hand for the event and happy to make an appearance.

“What a great time for so many in the travel industry, it was the social event of the summer,” Gregory Luciani, president and CEO of TravelOnly, said of an “event I just could not miss.”

Probert and de Almeida of Bob Family Travel at TravelOnly hosted the event at Mimico Cruising Club on the shores of Lake Ontario said it turned out to be bigger and better than expected.  “TravelOnly agents came from all over the province to spend time outside at this fully vaccinated outdoor event with many great suppliers in the industry. There were smiles at every table all night long at this event that actually started in the early afternoon and went late into the evening.”

“To reconnect in person and share ideas on how the delta variant might affect our future business was a hot topic with many of the agents,” Probert said.  “We need to think outside the box and be on top of every country where our clients are going, the latest number of cases, new and ever-changing rules and to work with our vaccinated clients to keep them safe,” added de Almeida.

“The setting at Mimico Cruising Club was the ideal place to hold an outdoor event and we are blessed to have such a great venue to hold something like this,” continued Probert.

John Pereira, general manager of Mimico, saId he was honoured to have hosted the event twice this year and twice last year, knowing how hard a time suppliers and agents have had due to the pandemic.  “It is a win-win for us in the restaurant business to be able to serve people and for those in the travel industry to meet in a safe environment outside socially distanced.”

Aaron Crawford, who drove from Ottawa to be at the event as he missed the last one, said it “sure was nice to spend time with our industry leaders and suppliers,” whom he had not seen in so many months because of lockdown.

Wendy Bangma of TravelOnly, who drove 8 hours from Sault Ste. Marie, left very early in the morning as she did not want to be late. She said she had an amazing time, spending time with her fellow travel advisors and sharing ideas on moving business forward, which was exciting to be able to do.

Pauline Blacoe of Shine Travel said it was so wonderful to get together with fellow TravelOnly agents and industry suppliers. “It was such an emotional evening as we were able to reconnect (and hug the odd person) and to reminisce about the hardships over the past 18 months that we have all endured, but most importantly, to talk about and share ideas so we can move forward with our businesses.”

Tammy Durocher and her husband Zeljko drove in from Windsor to attend and said “it was worth the drive to catch up, reminisce and plan as a team the future of travel and we are so glad we were able to make it”

Diane Lattavo, executive vice-president of TravelBrands, a “large and trusted supplier to most all of the agents in attendance,” said “it was such a wonderful industry event — with everything that our industry is going through in the past 18 months – it means so much to all of us to just sit back and enjoy our colleagues”.

Sarah Boville of Barefoot Travel said to “connect with my travel family was so needed.  It has renewed my hope that we as an industry are strong, resilient and we will get through this together and come out stronger than ever.  Even with the new delta variant coming hard at us it is something that we will need to learn to live with, so this is just another reason for clients to make sure they use a trusted travel advisor when booking trips so you have all of the right advice before you book and before you travel.”

Ron Lonsdale, vice-president Canada for Collette said “this was a needed event, well organized in a perfect setting and it was so wonderful to reconnect with industry peers to reengage with our valued agent partners. It felt so awesome to be having real dialogue and conversation on travel in person. Also, hearing agents talk about advanced bookings and their clients looking past the pandemic was invigorating.”

Other suppliers also gave the event a thumbs-up.

“I’m absolutely enjoying myself,” said Jason Aiton of Celestyal Cruises, adding he was “thankful for the hospitality” and the safe manner in which it was delivered.

“It was a big pleasure to enjoy time with my industry colleagues,” said Abdalah Castillo of the Dominican Republic Tourism Board, adding the setting reminded him of a Santo Domingo yacht club he’d see during his childhood.

Michele Martinson of Aeromexico in turn labeled the evening a “special event.”