23 SEP 2019: “Did you know that Air Canada Vacations sells Canada to Canadians?” It was a question asked by ACV execs in various iterations at last week’s ACV DreamMakers event in Toronto. Did you know ACV sells Asia? South America? South Asia? Ski resorts?

“We have product everywhere Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge fly,” stated ACV managing director Nino Montagnese. “Please don’t only think about sun, we offer the entire world.”

“We are diversifying as a company,” added ACV GM of sales for Ontario and national Erminia Nigro, who joked that the company was also hoping to “brainwash” people to think of it first for Europe. “We love our sun, but we really want you to think of us outside the box.”

Another point of emphasis was connecting flights: 63 of them across Canada courtesy of ACV’s sibling airline partners.

Montagnese, Nigro and senior director sales, groups and partnerships Dana Gain were on stage for the fifth annual DreamMakers sun product launch in Vaughan, north of Toronto – the final night of a 10-day cross country roadshow that also included Calgary; Burnaby, BC; Halifax; and Montreal.

More than 1,000 agents attended in Toronto alone, prompting the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Dan Hamilton to marvel, “Can you believe this?”

In addition to top notch grub (including prime rib and cannolis) entertainment (Canadian comedian Erica Sigurdson), and prizes, on the business end agents had close to 70 suppliers to talk to at the trade show, including, notably, Bahamas tourism, whose senior director for Canada, Paul Strachan, emphasized that much of the country, including Nassau/Paradise Island, was unaffected by the devasting effects of Hurricane Dorian and is open for business.

From the stage, attendees were given a comprehensive presentation on all things ACV, along with updates from title sponsors Sandals and Bahia Principe, both of whom thanked agents for their support.

“I cannot come to Canada without thanking the travel agents for every single thing you do for us every single day,” said Sandals VP Gary Sadler.

Also announced were the ACV’s 2019 Awards of Excellence winners:

• Exclusive Cruise Spotlight Collection Partner: Carnival Cruise Line
• Best Luxury Product: Jade Mountain Resort •    Rising Star Partner: Catalonia Hotels & Resorts
• Award of Distinction: Blue Diamond Hotels & Resorts
• Award of Excellence: Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Sandals & Beaches Resorts
• Diversification Award: Ensemble Travel Group
• Groups Partner of the Year: TL Network
• Online Travel Agency Partner: Red Label Vacations
• Breakout Partner of the Year: TravelOnly
• Network Partner of the Year: Transat Distribution Canada

When it came to agents, Nigro and Dain outlined an extensive list of product promotions, incentives and overall company developments, from an enhanced web site and loyalty program to new weekend hours for the groups department and the launch of new training for home-based agents.

“We asked you for feedback and we’re listening,” Dain assured those in attendance. “There are a lot of changes that will make it easier for you to do business with us.”

sandals sadler & friends

Sandals was a title sponsor and award winner at that ACV show. Company VP Gary Sadler was joined on stage by friends Angella Bennett of the Jamaica Tourist and Sesame Street’s Elmo.

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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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