Cookies policy

In order to provide you with the best online experience this website uses cookies.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Saturday,  April 20, 2024 9:17 PM 

“It’s almost unreal”: TravelOnly celebrates 50 years at TADA awards in T.O.

  • Agency
  •   01-22-2024  9:19 am
  •   Jessica Huras

“It’s almost unreal”: TravelOnly celebrates 50 years at TADA awards in T.O.
From left (of TravelOnly): Gregory Luciani, president & CEO; Ann Luciani, owner and CFO. (Jessica Huras/Pax Global Media)
Jessica Huras

Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York was an appropriately grand setting for the commemoration of a major milestone.

On Jan. 20, more than 150 TravelOnly colleagues, partners and travel media gathered to celebrate the host agency’s seventh annual achievement and distinction awards (known as “TADA”) and recognize 50 years in business.

“To think back, it’s almost unreal – 50 years,” said Ann Luciani, TravelOnly’s owner and CFO, speaking to PAX. “It’s a double-edged sword because I’m thrilled, but I miss my husband.”

Patrick Luciani, TravelOnly’s founder and chairman, sadly passed away in April 2020.

The event began with an award to honour Patrick’s legacy: The Patrick Luciani Community Award, which debuted last year.

Patrick Luciani, TravelOnly's late founder & chairman. (Photo: Pax Global Media)

“Patrick was a true community-minded person, always eager to contribute to the betterment of others,” said Ann, who presented the award. “This acknowledges someone like him, who approaches life without prejudice, embraces and accepts people for who they are and creates a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

The award was given to long-time TravelOnly advisors Barbara Scrocco and Robert Rizzo.

From left: Robert Rizzo & Barbara Scrocco received the Patrick Luciani Community Award.

“When I met Patrick more than 25 years ago, he welcomed us into his family – it was never about business,” said Rizzo, speaking as he received the award. “Tonight, standing here in this beautiful room, I know he’s looking down on all of us filled with pride and joy.”

Suppliers honoured

Over the course of the evening, travel advisors and suppliers across more than 40 categories were recognized for their achievements.

On the supplier side, winners included:

Top Preferred Supplier Award in Cruise 2023: Norwegian Cruise Line (Cindy Girard)

Top Preferred Supplier Award in River Cruise 2023: AmaWaterways (Sandra Gardiner and Neil Dudley)

Top Preferred Tour Operator 2023: Sunwing (Dave Wright)

Personality of the Year 2023: Krista Rothfuchs (Air Canada Vacations)

Most Supportive BDM 2023: Brian Joseph (Hyatt Inclusive Collection)

Most Engaged Partner of the Year 2023: WestJet Vacations (Sevi Anagnostis)

Top Breakout Partner of the Year: Viking (Jordana Botting)

Top Overall Preferred Partner: TravelBrands (Diane Lattavo) Carolina Bellina, Senior Director of Canadian Sales at Hyatt Inclusive Collection; Hyatt was among the preferred suppliers recognized during the awards. (Jessica Huras)

Reflecting on 50 years 

 Ann paid tribute to Patrick in her opening remarks. “As TravelOnly marks half a century, it is only fitting to honour Patrick, who played an integral part in shaping our legacy and continues to inspire all of us,” she said.

She reflected on meeting Patrick in the 1970s and shared stories from their honeymoon, which took them to destinations like Cypress, Geneva and Berlin.

Ann spoke about her husband Patrick’s legacy and TravelOnly’s founding. (Jessica Huras)

Ann went on to describe the founding of what was then called Luciani World Travel and their eventual ground-breaking decision to move to a home-based agent model.

She also talked about their strategy of recruiting talent from all walks of life, drawing people from professions ranging from nurses to accountants to new careers in the travel industry.

“We kept growing and growing and it was a natural thing,” she said, speaking to PAX. “We’ve always taken a grassroots approach.”

Dinner kicked off with a champagne toast. (Jessica Huras)

In his own remarks, Gregory Luciani, TravelOnly’s president and CEO, also highlighted the company’s home-based model.

“We were pioneers in decentralized workplaces,” he said. “Now, it’s second nature for people to work from home.”

Betting big on AI

Speaking to PAX, Gregory said TravelOnly had a “record-breaking year” in 2023.

“We’ve doubled our pre-COVID numbers and we’re looking to grow the business by another 25 per cent in 2024,” he said.

AI is a major part of TravelOnly’s vision heading into this year, Gregory said.

“We’re the first agency in the country to launch artificial intelligence that’s specifically designed for travel agents,” he said.

Gregory shared that TravelOnly’s AI technology will serve as a virtual assistant and content creator for agents.

GLOW Travel earned President’s Club status, recognizing top sales across the company. Agency President & Founder Amanda Beaver (centre). (Supplied)

“That's something that's very difficult for someone who's running an agency today – to be able to do technology development, on top of digital marketing development, on top of running their business and servicing their customers,” explained Gregory.

TravelOnly’s AI technology will be able to create blogs, web pages and social media posts for agents, freeing up their time to concentrate on serving their clients.

“That’s the next 50 years – we’re going to be focusing on AI for the foreseeable future,” he said. 

“That’s what TravelOnly is and inspires to be – to give agents the tools they need to be leaders and innovators.”

Shannon Smith, TravelOnly Senior VP of Sales, Marketing and Operations presented Norwegian Cruise Line’s Cindy Girard, BDM - Home Based Partners - Canada, and Katie Kania, National Director of Sales & Marketing - Canada, with the award for Top Preferred Supplier Award in Cruise 2023. (Jessica Huras)

A people business

In spite of the company’s focus on AI in the coming years, Gregory emphasized that people will always be at the heart of TravelOnly’s mandate.

“The number one thing for us is the same thing that it was for the first 50 years – it’s the people,” he said, noting that he hopes TravelOnly’s forward-thinking philosophy will continue to attract new agents into the industry.

 “People don't get into travel to be Jeff Bezos – they come in because they want to help people, they’re passionate and they love to travel,” he said.

“What TravelOnly believes at its core is that if we support you, we will share in your success and that success will be exponential.”

Addressing attendees, Gregory spoke about how much opportunity he sees in the travel industry today and looking ahead towards the future.

“I’m looking to the next 50 years to be even bigger, bolder and to provide more services and more support than ever before,” he said.

TravelOnly Top Producers 

Sales Growth: Tracey Clarke

Rookie of the Year: Daniel Slupeiks

Top Rising Star: Sandi Liang

Top All Star: Meaghan Petz

Top Producer Atlantic Canada: Carina Shortliffe

Top Producer Prairies: Denise Taylor

Top Producer Quebec: Carole Roy

Top Producer Alberta: Holly Slater

Top Producer British Columbia: Tracey Robertson

Top Producer Ontario: Mary de Almeida and Pat Probert

Supplier Top Producer Awards – Platinum & Gold Partners

Air Canada Vacations: Joe Kemp

Hyatt Inclusive Collection: Sarah Boville

TravelBrands: Dashnor Hasku and Bujar Zejnullahu

AmaWaterways: Nicola Radde

Sunwing: Carina Shortliffe

WestJet: Jackie Lunn

WestJet Vacations: Helena Peters

TravelOnly MVP 2023

Shannon Smith

TravelOnly Personality of the Year 2023

Robert Pittelli

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!  Click here to follow PAX on Facebook.