Toronto-area travel agents got a lesson in standing out in the experience economy yesterday, as the Ensemble EXTRAORDINARY show wrapped up its 2017 series of events.
The event welcomed dozens of agents to Toronto’s Westin Prince hotel, featuring a presentation by Cathy Varrecchia, Ensemble’s national training manager, on how to stand out as travel agents in 2017. Presentations were also given by the event’s five sponsor partners – Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Crystal Cruises, Delta, Manulife and Lindblad Expeditions – before agents met with more than 30 suppliers during an afternoon tradeshow and partner exchange.
The show, which has visited Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in recent weeks, also benefited local women’s shelter Sistering - A Woman’s Place.
In her presentation, Varrecchia explained that the present ‘experience economy’ will require agents to focus on not only standing out with service but going a step beyond and focusing on the experience of travel, through memorable engagement of clients; describing travel agents as "the frontline cast members on the stage of travel," it could be something as simple as a bottle of wine from the region to which a client is travelling.
“Economies change and we’re in the midst of it,” Varrecchia said. “Experiences are a distinct emerging economy and it’s no longer just about lying on a beach.”
Varrecchia also highlighted a survey which found respondents held experiences in higher importance than material possessions, with the anticipation of an experience as a main driver in their happiness – such as planning for an upcoming vacation.
“People stop appreciating the things they’re constantly exposed to,” she said, after asking attendees to choose between a new car and a luxury getaway. “People also don’t like to hear about others’ possession, but they’re happy to hear about your experience.”