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READY, SET, SAIL

Holland America Line Holland America Line (HAL) has launched a new “ReadySetSail” promotion offered on select 2015 Europe, Canada & New England, Bermuda, Alaska Cruises or Land+Sea Journeys. Guests who book cruises with the ReadySetSail promotion will receive a complimentary full stateroom upgrade, up to 10% savings on select summer shore excursions when booked before 15MAR15, free or reduced third and fourth fares, and a reduction of 50% off the normal deposit rate.

With complimentary upgrades, guests can sail in an oceanview stateroom for the price of an interior or receive a free upgrade to a verandah when purchasing an ocean-view. Suite bookings receive a USD300 onboard spending credit per stateroom and a complimentary three-bottle Wine Navigator package.

Call us for reservations. hollandamerica.com

HAMILTON TO CAYO COCO

Air Transat will begin seasonal service from Hamilton to Cayo Coco, Cuba operating Fridays from 13FEB15 to 17APR15. Transat is offering nine hotels to meet all preferences and budgets. Mélia Hotels International features four properties at the destination, including the Mélia Cayo Guillermo Elegance Club, with its exclusive Distinction Collection services.

Call us for reservations. transat.com

TAUCK PUGLIA

Tauck Puglia Tauck Tours has unveiled its European trips for 2015, and among the company’s 40 land journeys on the continent is a new small-group itinerary highlighting Italy’s Puglia region. The new “A Week in . . . Puglia” itinerary is limited to just 24 guests per departure, and it is Tauck’s first-ever tour of the region comprising “the heel” of the Italian “boot”, an area renowned for its unique architectural styles, culinary traditions and archeological wonders. Tauck’s eight-day itinerary begins in seaside Savelletri di Fasano with a four-night stay at a traditional “masseria”, a fortified country farmhouse converted into a five-star hotel. Tauck guests will sample local vintages at an area winery and take part in a hands-on cooking lesson, visit the Paleolithic-era cave dwellings at Matera and the 13th century Caste del Monte and tour the centuries-old cave village of Lama d’Antico.

During a two-night stay in Lecce, guests will explore the white-washed village of Ostuni, visit local artisans, and more. The final night is in Savelletri di Fasano at the Borgo Egnazia resort, a member of the “Leading Hotels of the World” collection. Hotel photos and descriptions are on the Tauck website. “A Week in . . . Puglia” begins and ends in Bari, with departures operating from March through June and September and October. Sample land-only fares: 27MAR, 17APR, 16OCT15 USD3,990; all other departures USD 4,490 per person double.

Call us for details. tauck.com


McTAVISH TRAVEL WINS AGENCY OF THE YEAR

As agency approaches its 40th anniversary, Trish McTavish says secret to success is providing excellent customer service - Terrilyn Kunopaski
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The McTavish Travel team - Back row: Cathy Faleiro, Marian Strus, Jessica Scott, Allyson Pelisek, Marybeth Parrott, Diane Hink, Jody Grierson, Kathryn Butt, Christine Hillis, Kelly Howard, Carolyn Valenti, Ance Gheorghescu, Deanna Pesa, Sandra McGregor, Nadine Davies, Betty-Anne Ley, Lisa Spears, Dianne McHugh, Tina Leslie & Jo-Anne Wilbur. Front: Ross & Trish McTavish. McTavish Travel has earned the title of Travel Agency of the Year in the TRAVELHotNews.com Awards of Excellence contest 2011.


No stranger to industry recognition, the agency was also recently awarded the title of North America’s Leading Travel Agency at the World Travel Awards and has an array of other trophies on display at their Oakville office.

Ross & Trish McTavish, owners, McTavish Travel with Terrilyn Kunopaski, editor-in-chief, TRAVELHotNews.com “We’re honoured to have even been nominated. I think when you’re given an award by your peers, it’s probably the biggest honour you can be given, particularly by our industry in Canada,” said Trish McTavish about the Award of Excellence. “I have to say, I’m really proud of the travel industry in Canada - I think we have a really good industry here, a lot of integrity, so to win this in that circle is a great honour.”

The Award of Excellence comes at an appropriate time as McTavish Travel approaches a special milestone of 40 years in business. When the agency was first launched by Ross McTavish, it was Ross plus one teammate running the show. Trish started working with the business in the early 80s and now, the team has grown to 28 in total and continues to attract new business as well.

Originally, McTavish Travel focused mostly on leisure travel “because that’s what travel was all about,” Trish said.

But, after seeing a lot of corporations coming to them in the early 80s, the agency established a dedicated corporate department and now, that niche represents 50 per cent of the business. Twenty-five per cent is leisure, and another 25 per cent is made up by humanitarian/mission bookings as well as groups.

In fact, McTavish Travel is one of only two humanitarian/mission-accredited agencies in Canada, which means it holds contracts with most of the legacy and large international carriers to provide special fares to large charities, not-for-profits, humanitarian organizations and missionaries.

Whatever the reason for travel, McTavish’s clients come from across Canada, as well as some from the U.S. and other international markets.

So what’s the secret to the success of an agency that does very little marketing yet continues to grow year-after-year?

“Our success has definitely been on the foundation of providing exceptional customer service and referral,” Trish said.

“We have never strayed from our core value and that has been client-centric, client-focused; we always have felt that if we do right by the clients, everything else will fall into line. There are a lot of organizations that put call centres in place and that’s not about the client, that’s about profits. Anything we do, the first question is: how does that benefit the client? If there isn’t a benefit to the client, why are we doing it?

“We’ve never taken on an action because it’s better for us; some of the things we do are more difficult for us, but there’s a huge benefit for the client – it doesn’t matter how hard it’s going to make it for us to do this thing, if it’s good for the client, that’s what we do. And it’s worked for us – if you look after your clients and you look after your staff, your staff will look after your clients and it all works out in the end.”

Being in business for 40 years, McTavish Travel has had many clients with them for more than 30 and staff that has worked there just as long.

In the economic downturn of 2008, the agency was impacted just as everyone else in the industry but was still able to turn a profit without making any layoffs.

“We don’t have growth for the sake of growth,” Trish said. “The important key to growing is just growing enough that you don’t lose business because you’re not able to provide that same level of service.”

McTavish Travel is affiliated with the Ensemble and Uniglobe networks in Canada.



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McTavish Travel wins big at World Travel Awards

travel McTavish Travel is very proud of two recent awards!

McTavish Travel was awarded "North America's Leading Travel Agency" in the 19th annual World Travel Awards. It's McTavish Travel's third World Travel Award in 5 years! In 2007 and 2008, we were named "North America's Leading Business Travel Agency". The much coveted World Travel Awards are considered to be "the Oscars of the travel industry".

Launched in 1993, the awards "acknowledge and recognise excellence in the global travel and tourism industry." A World Travel award is "regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel company could hope to receive. Separating the good from the outstanding. Identifying companies that consistently excel beyond expectation. Taking customer expectations to a new, unparalleled high." For more information on the awards, visit www.worldtravelawards.com

On December 22, 2011 McTavish Travel was named "Canadian Travel Agency of the Year" in the travelhotnews.com Awards of Excellence.