Waking The Giant


Look out world! The sleeping giant that has been Air Canada Vacations (ACV) is in wake-up mode and readying itself to emulate the parent company’s dramatic expansion that has turned AC into a major global player, reports Montreal editor, Mike Dunbar in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.

“The reason we’ve sometimes been referred to as a sleeping giant is because people can see the broader potential of the ACV brand and the business opportunities out there,” conceded Air Canada Leisure Group president Craig Landry, who has been at the helm of ACV and Air Canada rouge since January.

“The sun business that ACV operates today is a business that’s been around for 35 years, is very significant and is not going away,” assured Landry, who added, “This is not a story about not paying attention to the sun anymore; it’s a story about doing something beyond that.”

He explained, “It means getting into the dynamic packaging game so that we can be more relevant in retail markets where customers want to book a-la-carte and make their own choice about their hotel, their car and their excursion that they might want to package.”

According to Landry, “People don’t travel to Paris and book Saturday-to-Saturday all-inclusive trips, so that means we have to change our product development strategy, our technology and our distribution capabilities to be able to do that.”

The former VP marketing at the mainline carrier, told CTP, “There are very compelling reasons why ACV has not grown in lockstep with Air Canada. That’s because the product design and the distribution models are all very different.”

“If you want to sell to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and deep into South America, which is where AC is flying, you need a different configuration of product buying strategies, technology and distribution agreements,” he noted.

On the marketing front, Landry conceded that ACV is still very sun-centric and needs to be better tied to the master brand of AC, giving the operator the opportunity to appeal to the airline’s 41 million customers a year.

“In doing that we will expand the brand footprint of ACV to the point where it can be recognized as a major global tour operator,” he said.

Landry stated, “If we want to achieve that kind of objective, it involves a strategic rethink of the business and it’s going to require us to be courageous in making decisions, taking chances and making investments — but that’s what we’re gonna do!”

And he declared, “If we can do that in a way that leverages the Air Canada product, its fleet and the AC brand promise, this is a giant that should be quite wide awake.”

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