Working in Market - Canada
See how to work in Canada, one of Tourism Australia's key markets, and learn key insights into the various travel distribution channels.
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, Anderson Vacations, Kensington Tours and TravelBrands.
- 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 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, Flight Centre, 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 November 2021, there were 868 qualified Aussie Specialist agents in Canada and 18 Premier ASP agents.
- According to the latest survey by the conference board of Canada, 48 per cent of outbound travellers said they will use the website of an accommodation and/or transportation supplier to secure some aspect of their trip. At the same time, one-quarter said they will use an online travel agent such as Expedia and 17 per cent intend to book directly with a travel agent. Overall, 42 per cent of outbound travellers plan to use a traditional or online agency to book at least some portion of their trip.
- Compared to previous years, those currently reporting positive travel intentions are savvy, frequent travellers who are generally heading to places they are familiar with and feel comfortable visiting.
- 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 eight months of 2021 saw just 43 thousand Canadian arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region, a 98 per cent drop over 2019. The majority of APAC countries still have significant visitor entry restrictions in place, which continue to affect Canadian travellers. The first four months of the summer season saw fewer than 18 thousand Canadian arrivals in the region. This is a decline of 98 per cent compared to 2019, but more than double the volume recorded last summer (135%).
- The Index of Consumer Confidence ticked up 3.2 points in October of 2021 to 113.2. The index is now 6 per cent below its pre-pandemic level. An increase was seen across Canada, except in the Atlantic provinces. Notably, Canadians are finally starting to feel more confident about future job prospects as the share of consumers with pessimistic views of future employment dropped to a record low of 14.5 per cent. However, the share of positive sentiments regarding current finances dipped to 13.0 per cent, a seven-month low.
- 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.
- 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.
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/canada
- For additional statistical reports refer to the ABS and TRA websites, www.abs.gov.au and www.tra.gov.au