Those who attended Connect Travel’s recent virtual roundtable webinar that focused on issues and questions having to do with the Canadian market to the United States, received a wealth of information and insight from the panelists who responded to the numbers questions that were posed to them.
Panelists included: Chloé Dumont-Samson, sales & marketing manager, Ruby Range Adventure; and Kristine Geary, president & CEO, Maple Leaf Tours. Moderating the discussion was Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events.
Top Takeaways: For attendees of the webinar, there were the following top takeaways:
1. Canadian Market: The Canadian market is strengthening; however, current destinations are largely domestic and the Caribbean. 2021 and onwards our panelists feel Canadians will stay in Canada or travel towards Europe once opened. It will take time for this market to return to the US. They feel strongly that once US/Canadian borders open consumers will need to once again confidence in the United States before they choose to travel.
2. Travel Patterns: Canadians are staying closer to home and travel volumes are low. Group travel is slow and will take longer to return; when it does, expect smaller groups. Focus on the FIT market; it is currently growing due to the increase in road trips. Our panelists feel the summer of 2021 will see a return to travel and agree that demand will be huge.
3. Flexibility: Flexibility continues to be a hot topic for our panelists. Our panelists interpreted it as reviewing their own policies and making changes. Think COVID-19 insurance, waivers, medical forms, online compliance & registration. Our panelists are creating new programs for Canadians to travel in their “Own Backyard”, vacation packages that include any required quarantine, US trips to outdoor open spaces, and pre-cruise packages for Summer 2021.
4. Connect: While our speakers felt there is a long road to recovery, they are updating current packages and creating new ones. Reach out with product ideas and no matter what, stay connected!
Kristine Geary: When this all started, we all thought, ‘OK,’ this is gonna be a couple weeks. And then, we thought, ‘Let’s learn how to bake bread.” Then, it got to be summer, and we were going to be outdoorsy and fun. And now everybody’s going into to fall and they’re just all. like, completely shot. We’re not gonna start the whole bread thing again. We just can’t eat that much bread.”
Chloé Dumont-Samson: (After pointing out that 80 percent of her Canadian company’s Yukon-based business comes from Europe) “I see this entire pandemic as a really great opportunity to look into the local market. By local, I mean the Canadian market. There will definitely be a desire by Canadians to travel within their own country.”
Shari Bailey: “Back in May, it was February 2021—that’s when things were really going to pick up. And then we saw that slowly moving back to the end of March, maybe this summer. I think that the collective wisdom that we hear right now is that summer 2021 is what we should be looking at.”
Kristine Geary “How am I doing? Terrible. Terrible. We haven’t had a sale since March 14th. That has not changed even when things seem to be picking up. We continuously do refunds. We had a sold-out tour that was expected to go Florida in February. We have cancelled that because the clients just will not go.”
Chloé Dumont-Samson: “Being in nature. Empty spaces. Wildlife. Hopping on a canoe trip for two weeks. These ae all things that will be very interesting for people—not to say that people will not want to visit cities any more, but I think there will definitely be a hype about being outside.”
Shari Bailey: “We’ve heard this on couple of our webinars—what this extra time we have is providing us It’s providing us with an opportunity a way to review products we have and ways that we operate –across all industries, not just for tour operators, not just receptive operators.”
Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events – [email protected]
Click here to hear and see the complete webinar session.