Group travel can be a rewarding and lucrative niche and, as such, the cornerstone of any successful travel agency business plan. Within groups, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibits (MICE) are a similarly important segment, often counting dozens, hundreds or even thousands of clients. From sun, cruise, golf or spa getaways for the sake of rewarding top employees and clients to corporate retreats, large-scale business events or full-scale conferences, booking bigger groups can be complicated and a lot of work. And that’s where Air Canada comes in, says Stefano Mastrantonio, the airline’s national manager of group sales, who explains to CT how Air Canada’s Meetings and Conventions product can help make booking MICE nice.
How can Air Canada help with booking a business group?
Most events – be they corporate, leisure or otherwise – require some variations on the set itinerary. Business groups are no exception. Our Meetings and Conventions product can adapt to the increasingly complex itineraries that are becoming the norm. In many cases, business travellers prefer to travel to and from a meeting or event on their own schedule. This is the product for them. We offer a seven-day pre and post window for any event, which means that most any itinerary requirement can be met. Our Meetings and Conventions product also partners well with our Group product (10 or more passengers on the same set flights), as there will inevitably be some passengers requiring travel dates and times that are different from the blocked group space. If you have 10 or more of those, then why not set up both a Group and Meetings and Conventions code? To do so, simply register your meeting or event at www.aircanada.com/conventions and receive a promotional code instantly. You can then add that code in the search box on the Air Canada website and the fares returned to you will already have the discount when displayed.
What sets you apart from others?
We offer an online tool that provides full flexibility to a group of travellers attending an event in any one of the global cities Air Canada offers service to. The fact that Air Canada offers the most flights within Canada, between Canada and the U.S., and between Canada and international destinations allows travellers the most options when travelling between two cities in our network. We encourage travellers participating in all types of events to take advantage of this product. Weddings, reunions, conferences, incentives, sports and adventure groups are just some of the examples of groups that have registered and utilized our codes.
What are some of the benefits of engaging Air Canada beyond the obvious ones (discounted rates, Aeroplan accumulation, online management)?
The Meetings and Conventions product is a simple discount off the current website fares. This means that the fare booked using the promo code continues to attract any front-end or back-end commission that an agency would normally receive.
Is there a cost?
There is no cost to securing a Meetings and Conventions code. It can be obtained quickly via our website by anyone with a movement of 10 or more passengers.
What is the benefit for agents’ clients?
I would say that flexibility is the most obvious benefit. Also, we offer discounts of up to 12 per cent in all classes internationally and all classes excluding Tango in North America. This means that you can calculate a discount off whatever the current website price is and know that you are truly receiving a benefit over someone shopping without a Meetings and Conventions code.
Tell us something we might not know about the program.
We have a dedicated team ready to assist with any meeting, convention or event of 10 or more passengers. We work closely with our colleagues in Revenue Management, Scheduling and Planning to find solutions for our customers. This can mean anything from adjusting flight times, adding capacity to a city over a given time frame, upgrading aircrafts to accommodate a larger movement, or coordinating with our Charter department to facilitate a dedicated aircraft requirement. Because of the amazing diversity of the Air Canada fleet, we now have the ability to be nimble in satisfying large group movements in addition to smaller ones.
Where does one go for support/information?
I urge travel counsellors to reach out to myself or our conventions team to see how we can better assist them with any movement of 10 or more passengers. All queries, be they technical, booking related or otherwise, should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.