The Spirit Of Travel Is Alive And Well At The 2023 Agents’ Choice Awards Gala 

It was the best of times for the best of Canada’s travel industry.

Baxter Media – along with its presenting and feature sponsor partners – celebrated the favourites of Canadian travel advisors from coast to coast to coast at the 2023 Agents’ Choice Awards Gala at Toronto’s Arcadian Court last night (June 15) and it was a dazzling affair.

And Baxter Media’s executive editor, Bob Mowat used the glittery event — that drew a sold-out crowd of close to 400 — to praise travel agents for the remarkable resilience they’ve shown through often challenging times.

“If I was to sum things up, I’d have to say that this is an industry that has experienced far more than its fair share of existential disasters, occasionally interrupted by some good times,” he said. “How on earth you’ve managed to survive, let alone thrive, beggars my imagination. But you seem to find joy in adversity.”

Mowat added: “While change always brings uncertainty, I am confident that whatever comes your way, you’ll be here next year and the year after that and the year after that.”

Baxter Media’s executive vice-president Wendy McClung in turn noted Baxter Media’s longevity in the industry, pointing out that its flagship publication, Canadian Travel Press, has been informing travel agents of industry developments for over half a century.

“From its very first issue, every significant event, every important news story, new company, bankruptcy, trend and a whole lot more has been featured in Canadian Travel Press. But the publication’s signature feature has been the pages and pages of pictures that has run of the people and events of the industry over the years – some of which you are seeing tonight on the screens,” she said while paying tribute to her parents — Bill and Edith Baxter — who founded the company.

“Tonight, is a celebration on many levels,” McClung continued. “23 years ago, we launched the first Agents Choice Awards survey, asking you who your favourites were in 7 categories. Names like Canada 3000, Sunquest, Fun Sun, Signature, and Regent made the list. Many are no longer around or have merged with others, possibly several times over. Fast forward to 2023. This year, the Agents’ Choice Awards survey featured over 40 supplier categories and 6,551 travel advisors — a record number of voters — had their say in recognizing you.”

Coming To A Screen Near You

The sold-out crowd was also the first in the industry to learn about a new project that Baxter Media is currently working on. In 2013, the company released Voices of Travel, Stories from the pages of Canadian Travel Press – a history of the Canadian travel industry — told by more than 40 industry icons – now, work is underway on a Voices of Travel documentary that will offer the Canadian travel industry a chance to listen to some new Voices.

Those attending the 2023 Gala got a sneak preview of what the project is all about.

Stay tuned, Voices of Travel is slated to be released in the Fall of 2023.

A Special Award

The evening also saw G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip presented with the W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award and he used the occasion to thank Baxter Media for having always been ‘so supportive’ of his company. [Click here for the full story]

Poon Tip observed that his company was once located near Baxter Media’s Toronto office, on Dupont Street, which helped forge ties between the two companies.

Bringing The Industry Together

During the award presentations, Porter Airlines’ Michael Curmi observed of the event that it is one he looks forward to each year, observing that “Baxter Media brings us all together in style,” and considering the year that Porter has been having as it makes sure its passengers ‘actually enjoy economy,” Curmi certainly knows something about style.

Among those attending the gala was Laura Di Nardo of Celebrity Cruises, who said the evening was “amazing. It’s so wonderful to see so many industry friends. The spirit of travel is alive and well.”

Goway founder and president Bruce Hodge, himself a former winner of the W.H. Baxter Lifetime Achievement Award, declared the gala “pretty awesome.”

Goway was chosen favourite tour operator for Asia, the South Pacific and Hawaii, and Hodge said the tour operator will use the award in its promotions.

Travel industry veteran Rick McCauley labelled the gala ‘wonderful,’ praising the attendees, the music provided by the live band and the food.

“A great time was had by all,” McCauley added.

Lisa Lau of Okushu Tours welcomed the opportunity to reconnect with people after the pandemic.

“It was great to see everyone get together and celebrate the success of the industry,” she said.

Thanks To Our Sponsors

Baxter Media also wants to send a big shout out and thank you to all of our sponsor partners for the 2023 Agents’ Choice Awards Gala.

Presenting sponsors of the event were Air Canada, G Adventures, Manulife, Porter, Sandals, Voyzant and WestJet.

Feature sponsors were Collette, Jamaica, Mondee Canada, Transat, TravelBrands, The Travel Corporation, Trees4Travel and WestJet.

Thanks to all of you … we’ll see you next year at the 2024 Agents’ Choice Awards Gala …

Check out the Results

The 2023 Agents’ Choice Readership survey is being released today and if you want to check out the favourites, just CLICK HERE.