United Kingdom Travel Trade Activities
Recent research by Destination Canada confirms that UK travellers continue to consult travel agents and tour operators to research and book overseas holidays. More than half of recent UK leisure visitors to Canada booked flights and/or accommodations through an online travel agency or directly with an agent. Therefore, engaging and educating travel trade in the UK remains a top priority for the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT).
The ACAT travel trade plan focuses on marketing partnerships with tour operators actively promoting Atlantic Canada. In 2017, 19 partnerships with UK tour operators were forged, employing a variety of tactics, such as digital and social media campaigns, search engine marketing, representation at consumer shows, direct mail, print ads in national newspapers and travel and lifestyle magazines, website banner ads, and more. At the end of each season, partner operators submit reports to ACTP on sales as a direct result of the partnership activities. 2016 campaigns resulted in sales of $3.5 million to Atlantic Canada and a return of twenty-four dollars for every dollar invested by the ACAT.
The ACAT hosts a training program for UK travel agents on the Online Travel Training (OTT) platform. The program improves agents’ knowledge of Atlantic Canada and confidence in selling the region to their clients. Each year since 2014, approximately 500 agents complete the program and become certified travel experts on Atlantic Canada.
The region also partners with Destination Canada on a number of in-market opportunities, including co-op marketing campaigns, networking and educational events, and advertising in key trade publications throughout the year. In April, UK program manager Kelley Keefe participated in a roadshow to Brighton, Newcastle, Glasgow and Chester, training 280 Canada Specialist Agents on Atlantic Canada. At the events, the Atlantic Canada mini presentations were well received. Many guests commented that they were familiar with Western Canada, Ontario and Quebec, but they lacked knowledge of Atlantic Canada. Agents were especially surprised by the direct air access and short flying time.
In November, a contingent from Atlantic Canada including UK program manager plus trade representatives from each of the four provinces will attend World Travel Market in London for a series of meetings with UK tour operators to discuss product offerings and opportunities to improve sales for the year ahead. The UK program manager also participates in Rendez-vous Canada each spring to meet with operators.
The UK travel trade plan is an important part of the overall UK marketing program, which also includes media relations activities.