Agents across the UK are boosting their Canada sales by signing up to Destination Canada’s (DC) online training programme and tuning into DC’s new series of webinars.
The tourist board relaunched the CSP in 2022, with a raft of fresh content and with improved digital access.
It is made up of 40 modules, with essential features that include audio visual components, interactive questions, shareable content and the chance for agents to move up through tiers – from Bronze to Platinum.
Agents start off on the four Foundation Modules: Welcome to Canada, Vibrant Cities, Wide Open Spaces and History and Culture, earning Bronze status when completed.
Those hoping to graduate to Silver status level must navigate six Experience modules: Food and Drink, Indigenous Tourism, Wildlife Watching, Adventures and Activities, Winter Wonderland and Legendary Canada.
Thirteen modules offer a deep dive into Canada’s Provinces and Territories and agents need to complete 10 of these to progress to Gold status.
The top level is Platinum, featuring 16 Cities and Resorts and agents must take 12 of these. A ‘Retain’ section condenses product knowledge from training into a resource which can be accessed whenever needed – for example, for an impromptu sales presentation with clients.
New for 2024 is an incentive for agents who attains ‘Platinum’ status, who will qualify for experience passes for key destinations across Canada.
And there will be more to come in 2024 when DC launches a new Elite level that will recognise the most dedicated and successful agents training on the CSP.
“We will be looking for our top 20 UK travel agents, based on revenue of bookings to Canada made in 2023,” says Adam Hanmer, Travel Trade Mnaager, Destination Canada.
“To qualify agents will need to submit their bookings stats at the end of 2023. The qualification will last for two years.
“Added benefits for Elite agents will include a bespoke overnight training event and access to two unique Fam trips.”
Currently, over 1,600 registered CSP agents are reaping the benefits of their enhanced destination knowledge and a raft of incentives that include places on Fams. The content is highly user friendly and also presented in an-easy-read mobile format.
“Agents who get to grips with selling Canada coast to coast to coast and across four seasons can look forward to healthy commissions and happy clients,” adds Hanmer.
One agent who says she benefitted from the CSP training is Amanda McKinlay (pictured above), who works for Thorne Travel in Ayrshire. Amanda credits “insight gained from the training” for landing a £14,000 booking that included stops in Toronto, Vancouver, Banff, as well as flights, tours and the Rocky Mountaineer.
Says Amanda: “The training gave me the confidence to guide the customer through the different elements of their booking. As a result, I was able to secure another booking worth £8,500 the following week.
“The CSP modules are presented in a clear and organised manner and the content is also engaging and informative, which kept me interested throughout. Additionally, the self-paced format was just perfect for me,” adds Amanda.
Sue Lindsay, a Personal Travel Specialist for Brilliant Travel, is a Gold level CSP agent who is “on her way to Platinum status”. She says she finds the training “inspiring”. Of one recent training event she comments: “It was a great event and it was fabulous having so many provinces and territories to learn about. I really enjoyed it and now just need to get out there to sample Canada for myself!”
Luxury Travel Counsellor Debbie King says Canada’s training is among the best that the industry offers.
“Nearly every destination in the world has some kind of training, so I do a lot, but Canada’s is always fab! The training and webinars are really good.”
Independent agent Julie Hendrickson comments: “I recently booked an itinerary featuring Toronto, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Montreal, Québec and Prince Edward Island. It was fun putting it together and the training helped me a lot.”
Destination Canada’s regular webinars – currently being run every fortnight – cover a wide range of Canadian tourism experiences and, says Hanmer, have “been receiving great feedback”.
One agent who gives the webinars a positive review is Ewa James, Travel Director for Corporate & Leisure at Impress Travel, who says: “The webinars are really helpful and I keep a copy of them as reminders.
“The Platinum training also helps me when talking to my clients and I am pleased to say that I have confirmed an extended Canadian itinerary for June 2024 for two couples, with a booking value of £17,000 – and we will be upgrading their flights.”
“I’m excited that we will be able to support our top bookers in 2024 with added value and more opportunities to expand their Canada knowledge”, adds Hanmer, who says the agent fam trips which recommenced in 2023 will continue in 2024.
“We prioritise taking as many qualified agents out to experience Canada as we can. Working with industry partners we are making it (Canada) as accessible as possible. One initiative this year (2023), in association with First Class Holidays, saw us take several agents out to Toronto and Niagara, which proved very popular.
The aforementioned agent Debbie King says she has “sold loads of Canada” since being one of the agents on that trip.
“The DC and First Class Holidays incentive gave me the Canada bug! I have put myself in for their Vancouver trip too, so have my fingers crossed!” she adds.
Hanmer says DC is also planning a quarterly competition for agents which will see them win flights with Air Canada and stays at Marriott hotels across Canada (with details to be announced).
Agents can sign up to the training content at canadaspecialists.co.uk