Working in Market:
Canadian travel distribution channels are concentrated, with a few large wholesalers handling the majority of outbound travel to Australia. Online channels and mobile platforms are primarily used for research, while bookings are made through traditional channels such as retail agencies.
Commission Level: 20% - 30%
- There are several major wholesalers that account for the majority of leisure travel to Australia, these are: Goway Travel, Boomerang Tours, Travel2, GoGo Vacations, Anderson Vacations, Kensington Tours and Air Canada Vacations
- There are several wholesalers in the market who are aggressively adding more Australian product, such as Anderson, Kensington Tours (wholesaler/retailer), Tully Luxury Travel (wholesaler/retailer) and Down Under Travel. There are also several niche operators that play an important role such as Trufflepig, Globus, and Collette Canada and Contiki Holidays.
- Wholesalers in Canada are increasingly moving from group travel towards free independent travel (FIT), a shift which is being driven by consumer demand. There is also a move to focus on more affluent, high-end client.
Commission Level: 10% - 20%
- There are approximately 5,000+ retail travel agencies in Canada.
- The biggest retail consortia are Ensemble, Travel Leaders Group and Uniglobe Western Canada.
- There are several large retail chains such as: Carlton Wagonlit, Tripcentral.ca, FlightCentre, Merit Travel (member of Signature Travel Network), Maritime Travel (only corporately owned retail chain left in Canada and now Virtuoso), Transat Distribution and Vision Travel (member of Virtuoso).
- Although consumers increasingly look to online channels for research, Canadian retail travel agencies have seen a resurgence over the past years, particularly for niche, long haul luxury travel.
- The Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) is the primary platform for Tourism Australia to train and develop front line travel sellers to best sell Australia. The number of ASP qualified agents in Canada is growing at a very encouraging rate.
- As of December 2017, there were 942 qualified Aussie Specialist agents in Canada and 14 Premier ASP agents.
- The Hotel Association of Canada reported that 73 per cent of Canadian leisure travellers and 86 per cent of business travellers use the internet to research and gather information before booking their travel products.
- To learn about destinations and conduct research, Canadians visit TripAdvisor (tripadvisor.com) or Booking.com and then for long haul itineraries, most will talk and book via a travel agent.
- The most popular online travel agencies (OTAs) in Canada for booking travel are Expedia Canada (expedia.ca), Tripcentral.ca, Flight Network (flightnetwork.com) and Redtag (redtag.ca).
Inbound Tour Operators
Commission Level: 10% - 30%
- Inbound tour operators (ITOs) are an important part of the distribution network in Canada. There are several ITOs which specialise in servicing the Australian market. These include Goway, ATS Pacific and Qantas Holidays.
- The value of the Canadian dollar (CAD) declined 25 per cent in the past 2 years against the USD, resulting in travel to the USA (and some other overseas destinations) becoming more expensive.
- A trend has emerged with some Canadian tour operators targeting consumers directly, rather than through an intermediary, and this trend seems to be growing.
- The smartphone is an increasingly important source to research travel. In addition, video is increasingly important, as Canadians have some of the world’s highest consumption of online video content.
Planning and purchasing travel
- The first month of 2017 saw Canadians make 2.8 million overnight trips to the U.S. and other destinations, an increase of 5.4 per cent. Of this total, an estimated 2.2 million trips were for leisure purposes. Compared to January 2016, overseas leisure trips grew 2 per cent while leisure travel to the U.S. increased 7.3 per cent. Overseas travel accounted for 50.4 per cent of all outbound leisure trips during the month compared to 57.6 per cent during the peak travel year of 2014.
- The first month of 2017 saw Canadians make almost 275,000 visits to key destinations in the Asia/Pacific region, a 9.1 per cent increase compared to 2016. During January 2017, Japan (27.8%), Taiwan (21.4%), and Cambodia (20.8%) saw the largest proportional increases in arrivals. The two destinations with the largest volume of arrivals—China and Hong Kong— welcomed one-third of the Canadian market in January.
- The national consumer confidence rating was 111.76 points in March 2017; a 1.1-point increase since February, and a 19.5-point jump compared to last year. Along with increased consumer confidence levels, a higher percentage of Canadians indicated March was a good time to make a major purchase. Following a slight month-over-month decrease in December 2016, retail sales increased in January. Accounting for 2.7 per cent of all retail trade, e-commerce transactions increased 17.2 per cent compared to the previous year.
- Canadian consumers prefer to prearrange many of the optional components of their Australian holiday. They are very independent and resourceful travellers, feeling they will get better value with a customised itinerary compared to a packaged trip.
- Canadian travellers show a willingness to pay a premium for experiential and eco-friendly travel products and services.
PLANNING A VISIT TO MARKET
TOP TIPS FOR SALES CALLS
- Australia’s State and Territory Tourism Organisations (STOs) have developed an online manual to assist Australian product suppliers to plan and carry out sales missions. See www.coastnorthamerica.com.
- Building relationships with sales agents and management is critical to the sales process. It may take more than one meeting to see tangible results.
- Most agencies will be more receptive to new promotions or product offerings that will benefit them.
- Follow-up all sales visits with a summary of the meeting via email.
- The best time to visit is in the spring/summer season, May to August. It is advisable to provide a minimum of one week notice prior to the visit.
- Dress is varied depending on the company however as a general rule, business-casual attire is suggested for most meetings.
- The key major markets to visit are Toronto (where most major tour operators and retail head offices are located), Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Ottawa, Winnipeg and Halifax are considered secondary markets.
- If you plan to conduct sales visits in the province of Quebec, it’s advisable to bring French collateral and sales materials (or at least one flat sheet with key highlights of your product in French) if possible. For destinations in Quebec outside of Montreal, it is recommended to send a Francophone sales representative as you may encounter difficulties communicating in English.
- For more general information on sales calls and planning a visit to market, please see Tourism Australia’s 'Tourism Export Toolkit'.
Key Distribution Partners
Tourism Australia is a partnership marketing organisation and works closely with airlines and travel companies on cooperative marketing to drive conversion in all priority markets.
These targeted travel companies, including wholesalers, retail and online travel agencies, form Tourism Australia’s Key Distribution Partner (KDP) program with the intention to increase total booking value of visitors to Australia.
Each KDP is selected based on the fit with Tourism Australia’s market strategy, a shared target customer profile, shared funding of marketing activity, a commitment to training their frontline sales team through the Aussie Specialist Program and a commitment to selling quality Australian product and experiences.
Below are a selection of Key Distribution Partners that Tourism Australia is partnering with from Canada for the 2017/2018 financial year.
- Anderson Vacations
- Downunder Travel
- Flight Centre Canada/GOGO Vacations
- G Adventures
- Goway Travel Limited
- Vision Travel
WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION
Tourism Australia’s activities in Canada are managed from its Los Angeles office however, a representative office is located in Toronto (there is also representation in Western Canada based in Vancouver and in Quebec, based in Montreal).
- An overview on the travel distribution system
- A quick reference on key booking and travel periods for markets
- Canada Country Brief published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at: www.dfat.gov.au/geo
- For additional statistical reports refer to the ABS and TRA websites, www.abs.gov.au and www.tra.gov.au