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Set sail with Viking Cruises

5 Reasons to Book a Viking Ocean Cruise

Ask us to point to the best thing about Viking Ocean Cruises and you might be met with a blank stare. Not because there isn’t anything to recommend the line, though — it’s quite the opposite actually. With Viking, every detail — from the decor and atmosphere to the food and itineraries —is special and it is the experience as a whole that makes these cruises truly remarkable. So we couldn’t possibly choose just one best thing.

If you’ve enjoyed the company’s sister line of river cruises,you are sure to be impressed by their spectacular ocean line. And if you’re new to Viking cruises, well, you’re in for a treat. Here are our top five reasons to book a Viking Ocean Cruise today:

#1: Viking is at the top of its game

Ranked as the World’s Best Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure for two years in a row (2016 and 2017), Vikingoffers an incredible experience aboard its beautiful vessels. There’s no better time to discover what all the fuss is about. Among the top luxury cruise lines, Viking has the youngest fleet of ocean liners, including two brand-new ships. This means you’ll be sailing on the newest vessels with a company proving to be the very best in its class.

#2: Clean and serene experience

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed by work? There’s nothing like a quiet vacation to clear the head. Viking offers an exceptionally serene environment aboard its ocean vessels. Uncluttered spaces, light-filled rooms and a decidedly un-mega-cruise-ship feel are the hallmarks of a Viking voyage. The well-designed ships keep to a clean Scandinavian aesthetic and maxes out at just 930 passengers. What a breath of fresh air.


#3: Inspiring itineraries

On a Viking voyage, the itineraries are as important as the onboard experience. Viking is able to take advantage of its smaller-sized ships to bring passengers into ports other cruise ships simply cannot navigate. And being closer to the main destinations — as opposed to out-of-the-way ports — means less hassle and more time to explore.

But beyond just the convenience of the smaller ships, Viking really shines with its port-rich innovative itineraries. The hardest part is deciding which itinerary to head out on first.

 

#4: Immersive Cultural Experiences

 

One of Viking’s stated goals is to provide travellers with an immersive cultural experience in every port — and the company really delivers. Not only does each stop include one free excursion, but Viking likes to curated experiences that give travellers a glimpse into local life and culture. Onboard, passengers have further opportunity to explore the cultures they are visiting through optional lectures, art exhibits, shows and food/wine tastings.

 

#5: Inclusive Pricing

Nothing can ruin a vacation vibe faster than having to think about money all the time. On Viking, almost everything is included: from all dining options and wine with meals to shore excursions and unlimited wi-fi. Want to eat dinner in your room? No problem — room service is available free of charge any time of day or night. You can even visit the luxury spa pools (treatments are extra of course) and do your laundry without having to reach for your wallet. Now that’s something to celebrate.

 

TPI Travel Advisor Recognized Internationally

February 06, 2018

Lois Barbour

From the small city of St. John’s Newfoundland, Lois Barbour has grown a formidable travel agency that is competing with the very best in the world. When she first decided to purchase a franchise with Travel Professionals International (TPI) in 2005, Lois Barbour still had one foot in her other career — nursing. She soon realized that her knack for planning perfect family vacations was serving her well in her new venture and she was able to step back from nursing to concentrate on growing her St. John’s-based business full-time.

“I retired completely from nursing in 2010 and haven’t looked back,” Barbour said.

Today, her agency, Travel Time TPI, has eight outside agents and an office administrator; and Barbour has proven herself to be one of Canada’s best destination wedding planners and a go-to resource for families looking to plan a stress-free vacation.

“My passion really is helping people — whether that be couples or families — to create incredible travel memories. I know from my own experience when a vacation is planned well and travel is stress-free, that time away together is really invaluable,” Barbour said. “We started to travel as a family when our daughter was two years old. She is 30 now and along with our two sons who are now in their 20’s, we still look back at those travel memories as some of the best times our family spent together while they were growing up.”

One of Barbour’s favourite travel recommendations is the Sandals and Beaches brand of resorts. For couples, the adult-only Sandals resorts are absolutely perfect, she says, and for families, you really can’t get much better than a Beaches vacations.

“What I love about the brand is that it offers consistency throughout, so you know that you will get high level of customer service in every resort,” she said. “And the food is always amazing.”

Just last week, Barbour’s agency was honoured at the annual Sandals Travel Agency Recognition (STAR) Awards with the ‘Best of the Best’ award — which recognizes excellence in sales and marketing. Barbour was also named once again to the exclusive Chairman’s Royal Club, an honour reserved for the world’s top performing agents and one that she has received each year since the program was implemented in 2011. She is the only agent in Newfoundland to ever receive this honour and one of only three in Canada for 2017.

“There is a direct benefit to our customers when we receive awards such as these,” Barbour said. “Being part of the inner circle allows us to advocate for our clients with the very top people from the Sandals brand. We are asked for ideas to improve the brand and we’ve seen our input make a real difference.” She points to free WiFi that is now offered at Sandals resorts as one idea that she pushed based on feedback from her clients. “We are very proud of all of our agents who work hard to give their customers the very best service and travel experiences,” said Zeina Gedeon, CEO of Travel Professionals International. “Lois is a wonderful example of the level of excellence our TPI agents provide to their clients all across Canada.”

Barbour is just one of hundreds of independent travel advisors and agencies under the TPI umbrella — a network that supports and encourage each other while growing businesses in their local communities. TPI is the largest host agency in Canada, providing marketing and technology tools for agents to increase revenue while providing superior customer service. TPI was itself recognized with a ‘Best of the Best’ award, as well as the coveted Top Host Agency in Canada honour at the STAR awards.

“It is great to be part of an organization that stands out from all the noise out there in the travel industry,” Barbour said. “TPI continues to support its agents so that we can do our job well — and that is to support travelers in all their needs.”

TPI Takes Top Canadian Spot at STAR Awards

January 31, 2018

Travel Professionals International (TPI) was once again named the Top Host Agency in Canada at the 16th annual Sandals Travel Agency Recognition (STAR) Awards held this past weekend at the Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa.

The STAR awards celebrate excellence in sales and recognize the agencies and individual advisors who utilize innovative selling techniques and employ outstanding marketing initiatives to sell the luxury Sandals and Beaches brand.

In addition to taking the Top Host Agency award, TPI was named a ‘Best of the Best Agency’ thanks to high sales productivity from its independent agents between August 1, 2016, and July 31, 2017.

And the accolades didn’t stop there.

Travel Time TPI (based out of St. John’s Newfoundland) received the ‘Best of the Best Agency’ award for its outstanding sales performance; Western Canada TPI was honoured with the Top Butler Travel Agency award for its high percentage of butler bookings.

Lois Barbour of Travel Time TPI was named once again to the exclusive Chairman’s Royal Club, an honour reserved for the world’s top performing agents and one that she has received each year since the program was implemented in 2011. She is the only agent in Newfoundland to ever receive this honour and one of only three in Canada for 2018.

“Congratulations to all our advisors across Canada for the outstanding job they do each and every day,” said TPI’s CEO Zeina Gedeon, who was on hand to receive the awards on behalf of TPI. “I am constantly amazed at all of the hard work our advisors do to grow their business. They are the backbone of our company and it is a great pleasure to see them succeed. Being recognized with awards such as these truly shows the strength of the TPI organization and the commitment our advisors have to supporting their clients and our preferred partners.”

Zeina Gedeon Joins TPI as CEO

January 31, 2018

 

Travel Professionals International (TPI), a top 10 worldwide Virtuoso member and Canada’s leading network of independent travel advisors and agencies, is pleased to announce that industry veteran Zeina Gedeon has joined the company in the position of Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately, to focus on two key priority areas – growth and innovation.

“Zeina brings an incredible amount of experience to TPI,” said Morris Chia, TPI President. “Through this experience and her relationships, we are perfectly poised for Zeina to take TPI to the next level of growth and innovation.”

Gedeon’s growth priority takes aim at increasing sales and commission revenues for the company in addition to building TPI’s footprint, through acquisition of individual travel advisors, storefronts, and agency groups. Her innovation priority will further develop internal systems such as TPI’s exclusive Lynx platform, building on existing gains the company has made in lead-generation and automated content delivery for its travel advisors.

“Innovation cannot happen without the correct corporate culture, and TPI’s head office team and travel advisors have the incredible passion and knowledge needed to continue to grow and innovate together,” said Gedeon. “I’m excited to contribute to these ongoing efforts started under Morris’ leadership.”

Gedeon brings to TPI over 20 years of experience in the travel industry, including various president and vice president roles at companies such as Air Canada, Air Canada Vacations, and TravelBrands, in addition to her previous experience on TPI’s Corporate Advisory Board.

Gedeon is based between Montreal and Toronto and can be reached at zgedeon@tpi.ca.

Five ‘Life-Saving’ Items to add to Your Regular Packing List

December 07, 2017

You’re getting ready for your next trip. The suitcase is open on the bed, and you’re going down the list of everything you’ll need to take with you.

Sandals? Check. Wind breaker? Check. Sunscreen? Check.

Duct tape? Wait….what?

You read that correctly. A small roll of duct tape takes up a tiny bit of space, but can save you in tons of different ways. Patch a tear in your shoes, jacket, or trusty bag. Baby proof a hotel room in ten seconds by covering outlets and taping drawers shut. Hem your pants. Use as a bandage in an emergency. The list goes on and on.

Here are four more things that should become part of your regular packing list:

External USB battery charger. Nothing is more exasperating or panic-inducing than finding yourself lost and needing to pull up that email with directions, or that map to your hotel, or make a phone call — and having your smartphone conk out on you. Save outlet space in airports, hotels, train stations, and other oft-traveled places. Always have a way to charge up your phone, tablet, or other USB powered electronic device, even if there are no outlets available.

The humble safety pin can be an amazing asset. Aside from the usual functions — holding your pants or shirt together, for example, when you lose a button — they also can serve to bundle small items like jewelry orkeys, to keep everything organized and in one place. Discretely place a pin on the inside hem of a slip or satin jacket lining to eliminate static cling. Use them to attach easily-lost things like mittens to the zipper or hood of your kids’ jackets.

 

A few strips of chamois (or other absorbent fabric) in different sizes. You can keep them all in a zip-lock bag (along with a couple of other bags for temporarily storing used cloths until you can wash them) — but having different sizes helps for different situations, and it’s best to choose fabrics that are also quick-drying. Small squares for cleaning glasses. A washcloth for bigger spills or for freshening up at a rest stop. Use a bandana-sized piece to tie back your hair or, when dampened, tie around your head on a hot day to keep cool. A long, narrower strip can serve as an emergency belt, hair tie, ace bandage, or even a way to tie a bag closed if a zipper breaks. They even make fantastic travel towels, because they roll up into a compact size, suck up the liquid, and dry completely in no time at all.

 

My contact information. As your travel agent, my job doesn’t end when your trip starts!

It’s not common, but sometimes complications arise while you are traveling, and I am always available to youto assist with sticky situations you might find yourself in. (This is, of course, just one of the many perks of working with a travel agent!) Before your trip, you can make a “favorites” list in your phone of all trip-related contact info — my number and email address, hotel, car rental, reservations, etc. — for easy access. That way, I’m always just a call away. To find out more about the benefits of working with me and to plan your next trip, contact me today.

 

 

 

Why use a TPI Travel Advisor to plan your trip?

November 30, 2017

There used to be a time when travel was so daunting for ordinary people that experts were consulted whenever someone needed to book a train or steamer ticket. Nowadays, the Internet makes it possible to plan a trip with the click of a mouse, and many people are taking on travel by themselves.

However, as the travel world gets more accessible, it also becomes more saturated. Every destination includes a dizzying wealth of information, from the best time to visit to the cultural dos and don’ts, while choosing a hotel can mean wading through endless websites and online reviews. Add tour guides, attractions and restaurants to the mix and suddenly, planning your annual getaway takes way more than just a few keystrokes – it becomes rather overwhelming.This is where a travel advisor comes in handy. These worldly experts make it their business to trot the globe in search of the next great adventure or luxurious retreat, and they’re dedicated to giving you the trip you’ve always dreamed about – no matter what that entails.

Here are some reasons why you can’t put a price on expert advice:

A TPI Advisor knows people!   Sure, anyone can book a three-night deal at the Ritz. But can you secure an upgrade that includes breakfast, a spa credit and private city tours? Your agent can; she not only knows the general manager, she also sends the hotel a lot of overnight guests each year, meaning the Ritz wants to keep her happy. The best agents have long-standing relationships with companies and professionals around the world, and they’ll gladly share those hard-won connections with you, giving you access to perks you couldn’t get on your own.

A TPI Advisor is an expert and knows things based on experience and feedback! If this is your first time in a new destination, planning an itinerary on your own often includes relying on the suggestions of Internet strangers. Such guesswork can be risky, especially if you’re hoping for a unique experience, so why leave it up to chance? Your travel advisor has been where you’re going (probably more than once), and can recommend must-do activities, upcoming events, and even attractions to avoid – all tailored to your taste and budget.

TPI Advisors truly care about your trip as much as you do!  Our travel advisors are not only passionate about making your vacation dreams come true, they also know that a satisfied client is a client who returns – and makes recommendations. Advisors are just as invested in your trip as you, and will do everything possible to make it memorable – including designing an itinerary for your exact specifications, being available throughout your trip in case things don’t go perfectly to plan, and even arranging little extras along the way.

In the end, using a TPI Travel Advisor really comes down to value. Whether you’re looking for an elegant escape or somewhere new to explore, their expertise and insider access is guaranteed to bring you more bang for your buck – along with perks, flexibility and securities you’ll never find anywhere else.

Find your personal TPI Travel Advisor www.tpi.ca

TPI Hosts Over 300 at Record Number of Ship Tours

WINNIPEG, CANADA – Travel Professionals International (TPI), a top 10 worldwide Virtuoso member and Canada’s leading network of independent travel advisors and agencies, is pleased to announce that a record number of ship tours are planned for its Atlantic Canada travel advisors and their clients this fall.
From September through October 2017, 25 ship tours are taking place in Atlantic Canada – the most ever for the region – at ports such as Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, St. John’s, and Sydney. Representing TPI on these ship tours are 100 TPI Atlantic Canada travel advisors and 235 of their clients who will experience a wide range of cruise product including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises, and Viking Ocean Cruises.
“These ship tours build on our successful ship tour events in 2016 where hundreds of thousands of dollars in cruise sales were secured by our advisors,” said Morris Chia, TPI President & CEO. “I’d like to thank our cruise partners for showcasing their product in such a way that allows our travel advisors to interact simultaneously with both their clients and the cruise product. There is no easier way to sell a cruise than to experience one.”
The assortment of cruise lines includes contemporary, premium and luxury cruise lines, ranging from 382 passengers up to 4180 passengers, meaning TPI travel advisors and their clients experience every product category ocean cruise vacations have to offer.
Onboard the ships, clients are given access to exclusive booking promotions and TPI travel advisors have the opportunity to take training sessions that qualify toward their certified cruise counsellor accreditations.

TPI Hosts Over 300 at Record Number of Ship Tours

September 29, 2017

WINNIPEG, CANADA – Travel Professionals International (TPI), a top 10 worldwide Virtuoso member and Canada’s leading network of independent travel advisors and agencies, is pleased to announce that a record number of ship tours are planned for its Atlantic Canada travel advisors and their clients this fall.

From September through October 2017, 25 ship tours are taking place in Atlantic Canada – the most ever for the region – at ports such as Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, St. John’s, and Sydney. Representing TPI on these ship tours are 100 TPI Atlantic Canada travel advisors and 235 of their clients who will experience a wide range of cruise product including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises, and Viking Ocean Cruises.

“These ship tours build on our successful ship tour events in 2016 where hundreds of thousands of dollars in cruise sales were secured by our advisors,” said Morris Chia, TPI President & CEO. “I’d like to thank our cruise partners for showcasing their product in such a way that allows our travel advisors to interact simultaneously with both their clients and the cruise product. There is no easier way to sell a cruise than to experience one.”

The assortment of cruise lines includes contemporary, premium and luxury cruise lines, ranging from 382 passengers up to 4180 passengers, meaning TPI travel advisors and their clients experience every product category ocean cruise vacations have to offer.
Onboard the ships, clients are given access to exclusive booking promotions and TPI travel advisors have the opportunity to take training sessions that qualify toward their certified cruise counsellor accreditations.

TPI achieves Air Canada Circle of Excellence & TPI advisors win AC Contest

WINNIPEG, CANADA – Travel Professionals International (TPI), a top 10 worldwide Virtuoso member and Canada’s leading network of independent travel advisors and agencies, is pleased to announce that it has been selected by Air Canada as a 2017 Circle of Excellence (COE) agency for the tenth year in a row. In addition, two (2) TPI advisors – Shirley Noel and Jeanine Crowell – each won one of twenty (20) Air Canada passes to travel to one of Air Canada’s new destinations as part of a contest launched for travel advisors who completed their AC Global Sales University certification.

“TPI is extremely honoured to receive this COE designation, earned by only the top rated Air Canada agencies. Not only does it epitomize our very strong relationship with Air Canada, but it also shows our travel advisors’ commitment to their customers,” says Morris Chia, TPI President & CEO. “In addition, we had over 300 TPI advisors complete the extensive Air Canada Global University certification. This is such a positive news story for our advisors’ clients as they will benefit the most from our advisors’ commitment and dedication to complete this training.”

As a part of Air Canada’s Circle of Excellence, TPI receives the inside track for special promotions and agent benefits program, priority contacts within Air Canada as well as the most up-to-date information on the leading carrier’s services and operations. The Air Canada Circle of Excellence is awarded by Air Canada to a select group of Canadian agencies; less than in 50 total.

“I’d like to congratulate TPI travel advisors on achieving Air Canada Expert certification,” said Duncan Bureau, Vice President of Global Sales, Air Canada. “As an important partner to Air Canada, we’re honoured to work closely with the TPI head office team and all of their advisors as we together represent Canada to the world.”

TPI in Top 10 for Total Agency Attendance at Virtuoso Travel Week

WINNIPEG, CANADA – Travel Professionals International (TPI), a top 10 Virtuoso member and Canada’s leading network of independent travel advisors, was recognized as one of the top 10 largest attendee groups at Virtuoso Travel Week, 11-17 August 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, with representation by 52 of its travel advisors and staff.

“We are delighted that TPI and its advisors showed such a strong commitment to this year’s Virtuoso Travel Week,” said Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso CEO. “It’s truly a testament to their dedication and passion for providing the utmost in luxury travel to their clients.” Virtuoso Travel Week, in its 29th year, is the luxury network’s premier annual event with over 2,800 travel advisors and suppliers from around the world descending on Las Vegas, Nevada, for 5 days of learning, networking, and entertainment.
TPI’s membership in Virtuoso gives its advisors direct relationships with many of the finest hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines and tour operators in the world, as well as Virtuoso On-Site ground operators in more than 70 countries, all dedicated to ensuring the happiness and comfort of Virtuoso agencies’ clients with benefits such as room upgrades, amenities, and more. In addition, TPI advisors gain access to the latest in travel product marketing and technology in order to assist them in taking their businesses to new heights.
“Our top 10 worldwide affiliation with Virtuoso brings many added benefits to our travel advisors,” said Morris Chia, TPI President, “including bonus double-digit commission opportunities that help our advisors put more money in their pockets.”
Virtuoso is a by-invitation-only organization comprising over 800 agencies with more than 16,000 elite travel advisors in 45 countries in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East selling USD$21.2 billion in travel annually.