Not even a global pandemic could prevent Baxter Media from paying tribute to those in the travel industry who are truly deserving of tributes.
On Thursday, Baxter Media took the high-tech route to host the 2020 Agents’ Choice Awards Virtual Gala and salute the favourites of its annual, and 21st, Agents’ Choice Awards Readership Survey.
The event – the high point for this country’s travel industry – welcomed 700 registered attendees.
Required social distancing resulting from coronavirus prompted Baxter Media to reach out virtually this year, rather than hosting another of its traditionally, glamorous galas.
Emcee Tim Law and host Wendy McClung both used this year’s gala to praise those working in the industry during these tough times and encourage them to remain upbeat.
“Somehow, you continually amaze us,” Law told viewers.
McClung in turn invited those in the industry to “watch our industry come out even stronger next year,” while urging industry members to speak with a “strong united voice …”
“This is your voice. You have spoken,” McClung added of those who voted in Agents’ Choice Awards Readership Survey.
Kudos from the Crowd
The innovative affair quickly received kudos from appreciative viewers and participants alike.
“Thanks to Baxter Media for hosting today’s gala. I am very happy to have this medium to continue spreading the word on Oasis Hotels & Resorts, all located in Cancun, Mexico. Continue the good work,” said Pam Bassett, Oasis’ business development manager, Canada.
Bassett added that she truly misses “being on the road to visit the agents” and was thankful for the gala “so I can still connect, albeit virtually.”
Wolf Paunic, who oversees Trafalgar’s Canadian operation, was quick to voice his appreciation for agents who showed Trafalgar appreciation.
“The Trafalgar Canada team takes enormous pride in being voted for the Favourite Motorcoach Tour Operator for 19 years in a row, and Favourite Operator to Europe for three consecutive years at Baxter Media’s Agents’ Choice Awards 2020,” he said.
And Paunic said pointedly: “What makes this award special, is that it was earned in the most challenging year in the global travel industry. The vote of confidence inspires us to keep working on the restart of travel, and to keep reaching out to our valued partners and our guests with positive and inspiring messages.”
Paunic also made it clear: “We are here to stay, and to continue supporting our travel advisor partners. Canadian travel agents and our guests during these difficult times. A sincere thank you to all of you and we will continue to stay stronger together.”
“Another reason which makes this year’s award special, is that it falls on the 100th anniversary of The Travel Corporation, Trafalgar’s parent company, and the year our Chairman, Mr. Stanley Tollman, celebrates his 90th birthday,” Paunic noted.
Goway’s Shirley Rourke told Travelpress.com and Press Today that she’s grateful for the support her company received.
“We very much appreciate the great partnerships we have. I would like to thank everyone for their continued support. At Goway, we strive to deliver exceptional customer service with true destination expertise,” Rourke said.
And she added: “During this time we continue to work on initiatives that will allow us to work together even better in the future becoming stronger together.”
Transat was the favourite in three categories in this year’s Agents Choice Awards Readership Survey and the company’s vice-president and chief distribution officer, Joseph Adamo commented: “The entire Transat team is deeply moved by all the recognition that the travel professionals have given us at the Agents’ Choice Awards, most notably by naming us Favourite Tour Operator for the seventh consecutive year.”
Adamo also made it clear that: “More than ever, the travel professionals have shown us unwavering support, and we are tremendously grateful for that. Together, we will reach new heights and continue to brighten travellers’ every day with the joy of vacations.”
TravelBrands was also celebrating as a favourite of agents in this year’s survey.
Frank DeMarinis, CEO of TravelBrands, said: “Our goal now more than ever is to help the travel agent community work smarter, not harder and I am happy to see that our efforts have been recognized.”
And DeMarinis added: “I would like to thank everyone who voted for us! We will continue to support our agents to the best of our abilities and look for new ways to help adapt in the ever-changing industry.”
As for agents attending the gala, Travelonly’s Barbara Morrison observed that: “This year has been a challenge to say the least and this was a refreshing change.”
While Raymond Surette of New Wave Travel said: “Such a fun and unique way to connect with our industry.”
Thanks to all our Sponsors
The Agents’ Choice Awards were presented by Manulife and WestJet, while Gala Sponsors were Air Canada, Goway, G Adventures, SkyLink Travel Inc., softvoyage, Trafalgar and Transat.
Survey Sponsors were Collette, Manulife, Trafalgar, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and WestJet.
Exhibitors were Aeromexico, Air Canada, AmaWaterways, Anderson Vacations, Baxter Media, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Celebrity Cruises, Club Med, Collette, CORRIDORCANADA.CA, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental, G Adventures, Goway, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Manulife, Niagara Falls Tourism, Oasis Hotels & Resorts, Rocky Mountaineer, Royal Caribbean International, Sandals Resorts International, SkyLink Travel Inc., softvoyage, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourism Saskatchewan, Tourism Office of Spain, Trafalgar, Transat, TravelBrands, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Utah Office of Tourism, VoX International, and WestJet and WestJet Vacations.
Lots of Winners
Gala prize winners included: Mary De Almeida of TravelOnly and Karen Banjar of Sell Off Vacations ($50 Amazon Gift Cards provided by Manulife); Lisa Bond of Go With Hippo Travel and Graham Pardoe of Flight Centre ($100 Visa Gift Cards provided by Baxter Media); Betsey Williams (carry-on luggage provided by the Tourism Authority of Thailand); and Paul Chin-Aleong of New Wave Travel (seven-night trip for two to Dreams Natura Resort Spa in Cancun and return air travel provided by WestJet).