As APT celebrates 30 years of operation in Canada, the brand eagerly welcomes the reopening of the country’s borders, says Jessica Shelton-Agar, the operator’s head of sales
The reopening of Canadian borders to fully vaccinated overseas travellers this week is another landmark moment in the restart of travel, and one welcomed with great excitement by the industry.
Thanks to its stunning scenery and fascinating indigenous culture, its natural wonder and abundant wildlife, and its vibrant cities and exciting gastronomy, Canada is an alluring destination to visit, and we’ve seen great pent-up demand for the country over the last year.
Travellers were determined to make up for lost time, and such was the appetite for the destination that we took the unprecedented step of releasing 2022 pricing for our most popular Canadian trips back in February – a full six months earlier than usual.
Having made its way onto the green list, and now further bolstered by its reopening to international visitors on September 7, we, alongside our agent partners and peers in the industry, are seeing a further upsurge in bookings for Canada.
It represents a sensational sales opportunity for the trade and, to help agents to capitalise on this, we have just launched our full 2022 APT and Travelmarvel Canada & Alaska programme with most departures fully guaranteed.
More than 78% of over-16s in the UK – approximately 42 million people – have now had both doses of their Covid-19 vaccinations, meaning that our eligibility to visit this “bucket list” destination is at an all-time, post-pandemic high.
The timing is perfect for agents to get selling now: our data shows that the desire from customers is there and the destination is now ready for them.
Here are some helpful tips to help agents on their sales journey now that Canada is open again:
• Familiarise yourself with the destination’s diversity: Canada offers something for literally everyone, from foodies to nature lovers, from snowsports enthusiasts to those who want to absorb local culture. If you bring yourself up to speed with the wide range of experiences on offer and tailor your communications accordingly, you can find a Canadian adventure for every taste and every sales lead.
• Get to know the Canadian specialists: There are some fantastic operators that will offer your clients a total immersion in the destination. It’s worth understanding who they are and their points of difference to match the right brands to your clients and their holiday preferences. It’s also worth exploring the established players with a proven track record. This year at APT, for example, we celebrate 30 years of creating Luxury and Essential Canadian tours – it is longevity like this that is the hallmark of a real destination expert.
• Utilise the assets available to help you build interest in the destination: The good news is that you don’t have to do it all yourself when it comes to marketing Canada. Most of the specialists will have done the hard work for you. At APT, for example, we have a suite of sales and marketing tools that are tailored to Canada & Alaska, (available from www.aptagentclub.co.uk), and other Canadian specialists will also have similar tools. Use these to help grow your business quickly and efficiently.
• There are myriad different ways to explore: Canada’s diverse landscapes mean that travel may be most suitable by land, by rail or by sea – or all three – depending on the itineraries that your clients prefer. The Rocky Mountaineer is unmissable, of course, and many Canadian adventures can be made even more special by the addition of an Inner Passage Alaskan cruise.
• Escorted tours are a great way to explore this vast country: Canada is huge, and that’s what makes it so wonderfully diverse in terms of landscapes, cities, culture and climate. However, for independent travellers, traversing the country can be a daunting task so selling them a small group tour may be the perfect solution. With a tour director and driver taking care of every detail of the trip, as well as all the transportation, your clients can sit back, relax and watch the stunning scenery roll by.