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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 9:05 AM 

Halifax hosts Maritime Travel's Annual Vacation Superstore

Halifax hosts Maritime Travel's Annual Vacation Superstore

It may have been cold outside, but it was sunny and warm inside Halifax’s World Trade and Convention Centre this weekend for Maritime Travel’s Annual Vacation Superstore. More than 100 travel representatives from places such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Asia flew into snowy Halifax to promote their destinations and resorts.

50 vendors, including tour operators, cruise lines, wholesalers, destination representatives, hotel chains, stopover hotels and parking representatives, worked with 70 local agents to greet crowds eager for deals, door crasher specials, cruises and to escape to warmer temperatures.

“The crowds have been excellent,” said Blair Jerrett, senior director of marketing, Maritime Travel. “So far we are up to 700 people on Saturday over last year.”

The show, depending on weather, will attract anywhere between 3500 to 4000 attendees. “This year I think it’ll be closer to 4000,” said Jerrett.

This is the 24th show for the Vacation Superstore, with shows happening simultaneously next weekend in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Moncton, New Brunswick. Besides vendors with booths in the main room, the events features five presentation rooms seating about 50 people, with suppliers delivering 30 presentations per day.

“There is a cruise room, they present on adventure travel, there are sun packages,” said Jerrett. “We promote them a lot on our website and flyers, and people come to the show with their schedules highlighted for presentations they want to see.”

Jerrett said besides high customer turnout this year, Maritime Travel has also been pleased to customers booking more higher end and exotic travel: “People come for the sun packages, but are also excited when they realize that they can book a bucket list trip as well.”

“For sure we’re mostly booking all-inclusive packages to the sun with direct flights from Halifax, and we also have strong cruise sales,” Jerrett said. “But this year I have been seeing lots of bookings to Costa Rica, an Africa tour was booked at the show, an Australia tour, there was a big $10,000 booking, and we’ve booked China, Indonesia, and Thailand.”

Jerrett said the event presents a unique chance for suppliers, agents, and customers to connect in ways they normally wouldn’t be able to do. “Customers love being able to talk to the suppliers directly. That’s a real advantage,” he said. “You don’t get to do that if you’re just booking at a branch. Suppliers enjoy that as well.

And the suppliers love working with the agents. It’s a win-win for them, because they get to sell directly to the customer in the promotion of their own product, while on the same token, they get to know the agents as they are working with them all day as well.”

The tour operators at the show compete to try to meet each other for total sales, Jerrett said. “We had a little competition going on today between Air Canada Vacations and Transat. When Transat gave us their show special for Cayo Coco, about 20 minutes later, someone from Air Canada Vacations comes up and says, ‘Here’s out deal for Cayo Coco, and we’re $100 less.’ We laughed about it, and said, ‘Oh, the gloves are off!’ It’s great fun.”

Though the event is a lot of work, and very unique in Canada, Jerrett said after so many years of presenting this show, they’ve honed the process. Jerrett also emcees the event, ringing a bell or siren and announcing bookings from the stage, as well awarding as the travel prizes offered at the event.

Maritime Travel is Atlantic Canada's largest travel agency group with 115 locations across Canada.

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