Five Ways Air Canada is Supporting Agents in 2023
BUILDING AND maintaining a supportive relationship with travel agents is a sure way to success for any supplier, but not every company is willing to invest the time and energy required.
One airline that is focused on nurturing a connection is Air Canada, which in 2023 is continuing to find new and improved ways it can help its agency partners succeed.
Here are five things the airline is doing this year to make life easier (and more profitable) for travel agents.
Just being there
If you are going to offer support you have to back it up with resources, which is why Air Canada is adding two additional members to its renowned industry support team.
Vic Naughton, General Manager Australia and New Zealand, says the investment will ensure support team members are always contactable and can continue to respond to 90 per cent of enquiries within one business day.
“At the same time, we are looking for innovative ways for in which our support staff can work with agents to help drive business through the door,” said Naughton.
“With that in mind, one of the new team members will be charged with analysing sales data to identify specific areas in which we can assist with sales support.”
Air Canada’s Zoe Gentle, Vic Naughton and Rick Pomery
Comfort in groups
Air Canada is seeing a significant increase in group travel to North America – hardly surprisingly given the Vancouver international Airport (YVR) is such a low-stress gateway to North America, not least because passengers can transit without needing to collect and re-check luggage.
To support the growth, the airline is doubling its dedicated groups team.
“We have a local Sydney-based dedicated groups team, which offers agents personalised end-to-end support with their group enquiries – delivering quotes, ticketing and ongoing support,” said Naughton.
“And one of the ways we already stand apart from other carriers is in the fact that we do not charge extra ticketing fees for groups and have a very low ($100 per person) deposit amount.”
Forging and maintaining connections with partners takes a lot of work, but for Naughton it’s vital not just for Air Canada and travel agents, but for the overall wellbeing and cohesion of the entire travel industry.
In 2023 the carrier will have a strong presence at an extensive range of leisure and corporate travel conferences and expos, while also engaging with more than 500 agents at its own events and those sponsored by its supplier partners.
Already this year it has sponsored a Show & Go event in Queensland in partnership with Brisbane Airport and showered New South Wales agents with tickets to celebrated theatre production Come From Away.
“As the major sponsor we were able to give agents a VIP experience, with the best seats in the house and even post show drinks and meet-and-greets with the cast.”
Taking agents away
There is nothing like first-hand experience, which is why Air Canada is increasing the number of educational journeys it undertakes this year.
“Some – like the epic ski famil we hosted recently into the heart of British Columbia – will be led by the Air Canada team, and others we will conduct in partnership with Canadian tour operators, major cruise lines and tourism partners.
“One we are planning, for instance, will take agents to New York, allowing us to showcase the YVR transit experience.”
As always, knowledge is power, which is why this year Air Canada is opening the doors to its sophisticated online training initiative, the Air Canada Global Sales University.
“It’s a very modern learning platform, user-friendly, broken into easily digestible modules, and the feedback we’re getting from agents is really positive,” added Naughton.
“We’ve pushed for it to be tailored slightly to the Australian market, and we intend for it to be increasingly localised as we go forward.
“As with every great relationship, both sides need to be invested, so we plan to incentivise agents to complete the program, for example by making participation in future famils dependent on graduation.
“It’s the same philosophy that underpins all of our support efforts – when we work hand-in-hand with our partners, we all benefit.”