Five Questions With...
Each week on our podcast we get to interview interesting people from the travel industry. We've narrowed it down to five questions in our monthly blog.
September 26, 2023
Five Questions with Peter Mayers, the director in Canada for Barbados Tourism Marketing, their website is Visit Barbados - The Official Barbados Tourism Guide
Listen to the full interview HERE
What have the visitation numbers been like? Are you close to being back to pre-COVID numbers?
We're certainly working our way back. They are very encouraging in the second half of 2022. Obviously, you know, the non-essential travel advisory that was with us for most of 2022. That was lifted, I think, around September, October last year. And we certainly saw the surge, the pent-up demand that everyone talks about, we were certainly on the receiving end of that. And we've had a good winter season, I'd say we were probably about between 80 and 90%, back of perhaps where we were in the 2019 period just before the world turned upside down with COVID. So, we're pleased about that. Canadians’ appetite for travel is certainly there. And we've seen that energy being shown towards the destination when they get there.
Two things come to mind for me when I think of Barbados, beaches and rum. So let's start there.
I mean, there's so many ways to characterize both of those elements. One of the things is the fact that you can go to Barbados and have the rum experience in so many different formats, whether it be in a rum shop setting, whether it be as part of fine dining, or for those of you who are technical or really want to learn about rum, certainly you can go to one of the distilleries, and have that experience So either way, you will be exposed to rum. And then the idea of beaches. I mean, you've got the Caribbean Sea, on one side, the West Coast, and the Atlantic Ocean, on the eastern side. And the contrasting coastline for that beach experience is one of the hallmarks and experience where you can get as flat and tranquil for your camera and cruise, for instance, on the west coast, or for those interested in the soft adventure elements to surf.
Let's talk about the logistics of getting there. There's a number of ways Canadians whether they live on the east coast or the west coast, can get to get to Barbados.
Air Canada and WestJet are our two partners at the moment, Air Canada with daily service out of Toronto, and they do seasonal service as well out of Montreal. And then of course WestJet, from Toronto have four weekly flights throughout the year. So those would be the two options and the connectivity from West and East Coast is quite favorable.
Do you find that people get more adventurous when they're on a holiday and do more than what they would do normally at home? Are people a little bit more adventurous and willing to try more things?
We get that sense, we are often told that there's a almost like a feelgood factor that's engendered when people go on holiday and they're more likely to try other things or they see an activity or some sort of sport or whatnot taking place and they will quite literally try their hand at it. And that happens, I give the example two phases of the catamaran cruise where there are some persons who would, you know, determine that they want to go on a catamaran cruise and just relax and enjoy that and suddenly the opportunity to go swimming with turtles presents itself and all of a sudden, they are up for that experience. So we've seen that happen on numerous occasions. All of a sudden you get persons looking to explore more. And they’re certainly a lot more willing to expose themselves to some of these adventures.
Do people forget about some of the history and the past when they visit the Caribbean?
Barbados fits that bill, as well. You know, you're talking, for instance, the third oldest parliament in the Western Hemisphere. You've got the Jewish synagogue; you've got St. Nicholas Abbey. So certainly, that component for people who are interested in learning about the elements of our heritage, there's no shortage of that.
Listen to the full interview HERE
August 28, 2023
Five Questions with travel writer and Disney expert Renee Tsang, author of her newest book called Adventure Is Out There: 101 Tips To Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation.
Her website is reneetsangtravel.com
Listen to the full interview HERE
So what do you like about Disney? Obviously, they do a lot of things, right. I mean, there's critics of Disney out there. But they do more things right than wrong it seems.
They do. I mean, it's one of those things where they know how to keep the magic in your life kind of thing. They bring out the inner child in you. And it's a pure happiness and joy that you either forget you had or never knew it existed. Just all those things that Walt Disney created for people to be happy, right? Things and yeah, his legacy that he was able to create the in that so many years after his past and with these theme parks to have all the people involved in Disney, whatever it might be carry on his legacy to just create that joy and experience for people.
And that's why it's one of those things where if you've been to any Disney Park, you get it. If you haven't, then it's a little bit harder to comprehend yet. But again, it's just that feeling, that magic, that inner child that he's able to bring out. And again, simple little things that you just never knew you'd be so excited about. And that's the magic of Disney.
So, I think if you're going to start planning a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, getting your book would probably be the first thing you'd want to do.
I do. And I mean, Walt Disney World, is a beast to plan. It's one of those places where if you're a family, if you have kids, it's probably on your list or a dream or inspiration, you know, you want to visit Disney World at some point in time. Even if you don't as a parent, maybe your kids do. And then when you actually get to that stage of maybe considering it, it's a beast, it's huge, it's large. First of all, it's about the size of San Francisco. So, it's not like planning a theme park type of visit, the scope of it is huge. There's four theme parks, two water parks, 30 on site hotels, lots of other non Disney hotels, it's its own little city. So before you get into anything, you want to kind of know what you're getting yourself into, to get to find what works best for you. Because again, there's a lot of tips and tricks and a lot of value in it. I mean, it's going to be an expensive trip. No matter how you look at it, it is an investment in your family vacation. So with that, you want to make sure you're making the right choices available to you and for your family, whatever that might be, and whether it's staying on site and taking advantage of all these benefits they have, you want to know that ahead of time. So that's where this book goes through everything that you might need to know at some point in time during your planning process. Because the other half of going to Disney World is the planning process, actually planning your trip and getting excited about it and seeing all these amazing experiences that if you didn't know ahead of time, you might miss out. Or you don't want to get there and go, oh, I didn't know about that. And yeah, it's like a six hour wait, if I want to do that, or there's no reservations available, or all those frustrating things that you don't want to ruin your vacation. But at the same time, if you didn't know about it, it's unfortunate that you show up and you could have planned it a little bit, just with a little bit of extra insight into some of those things.
Well, that's the big takeaway for me is that you really do have to plan ahead. And you have to have realistic expectations. Like you say, it is a massive park, so you're not going to see it all. So you have to pick and choose what you want to do so you don't get disappointed. Right?
Yeah. And I mean, that's the worst thing, you don't want to go there and be disappointed. And regardless of how long you go for, you're not going to be able to see and do it all. It's impossible. There's too much.
Let's talk about a few of the tips. Obviously, we can't talk about 101 of them. But your first tip is to work with a Disney Travel Advisor, because they can relieve a lot of the stress and answer a lot of the questions. So there's the first tip right there.
You want to talk to somebody who knows Disney, a little bit more than the average person. So exactly.
Let's talk about the park passes. Let's start there. There's different Park passes. There's the base one, and I and if I read your book or part of that section in your book correctly, it's almost better to have the base ticket because you can always upgrade right?
Yes. So they have different ticket options where there's a base ticket, there's a park Hopper version, and then they have add ons. So the base ticket is the base ticket, it gets you into the parks. And if you've never been there before, for first timers, a base ticket is a great place to start. You don't necessarily need the Park Hopper because you won't have time. Each park is large enough and busy enough, with enough activities and attractions and things to see and do that you can fill your full day there. And so transporting to another park takes up transportation time, walking to the entrance, waiting for the bus, getting to the next part. You know all of that stuff, to me, it's a waste of your time. If you want to really maximize your park time, spend a day in each park, fully enjoy it for that day. And then yeah, if you want to upgrade you can always upgrade but you can't downgrade. So, start somewhere and then you can always add on.
Listen to the full interview HERE
July 10, 2023
Five Questions with Dee Dee Poteete. She is the Director of Media Relations for Visit San Antonio. Their website is www.VisitSanAntonio.com.
Listen to the full interview HERE
I think when people think of San Antonio, I'm just going to assume the Riverwalk comes to mind and the Alamo comes to mind. Is that what most people say when you meet them?
Most people say the riverwalk and the Alamo. Remember the Alamo for sure. And you know, we're just one of those wonderful American cities that have a little river running right to the heart of our downtown. And it is like a little piece of Europe has been dropped down. And right across the river is the Alamo, just one of five Spanish colonial missions that are beautiful cities.
I'm not one to rent a car and drive everywhere. So, if I'm staying downtown, is that the best thing?
Absolutely. You do not need to rent a car in San Antonio, you can get down very easily to downtown. And then everything is so walkable. You can hop on one of the river barges you can hop on a horse and carriage you can rent a bike all over San Antonio and really walk to so many of the attractions that are going to close cluster to get to and also a very short ride to the south Chow neighborhood to the pearl district to the other Spanish colonial missions to our museums. So everything's very close and very accessible.
Okay, with the Alamo, do I need tickets? How would I go about visiting? Can I just drop by?
You want to just stop by. You know, people always say wow look, it's so small. Downtown is all around the Alamo and it is, I think, because it's bigger than life in people's eyes. But when you drop by you can purchase a tour to have with a ranger or to have a guided tour or we have multiple languages. But you can certainly do so much of San Antonio free the riverwalk is free, the missions are free. Walking around the Alamo is free, so we make sure your vacation dollars stretch very well in San Antonio.
What is the Riverwalk like? I mean, you walk by a river but how long is it? Is the stretch full of restaurants, bars, nightclubs?
Great question. I'm glad you asked. You know it's a real river that bubbles up into the aquifer. The Texas Hill Country runs through the heart of downtown San Antonio which builds up around the river and then jumps out eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. But in San Antonio, which is why the Spanish stopped to this place of refreshing waters and started to build the missions that became the establishment of San Antonio. The Riverwalk is 20 feet below street level. It runs for 15 miles in San Antonio all the way from the pearl district, and the museums reach to the north through the downtown horseshoe bin. Which is very popular scene with the hotels and the restaurants, the parks, the bridges to galleries, and then down past the other Spanish colonial missions going as far south as mission spotter. And that's about a 12 mile reach which has an emphasis on hiking, biking, canoeing, and kayaking for those who are into that. So you can have a very pristine pastoral experience. You can have the hubbub of the riverwalk proper and the Horseshoe Bend, or the cultural experience going north to the museum's into the pearl district.
We always like to touch on the food. What are some of the things that I got to try if I'm visiting San Antonio?
Well, we're known as the home of Tex Mex. But San Antonio is so much more than that. The burgeoning cuisine scene is just so exciting right now. So many chef driven, owner driven fusion, creative restaurants and what I love about it is that they are many of them are in historic venues, either in a, you know, preserved neighborhoods south of downtown, in an old fire station, in an old convent, in an old part of the German brewery. The pearl district itself has dozens of restaurants of all different types, some of which are in the different historic buildings on this old German brewery grounds. So you can do everything from a neighborhood Mom and Pop taco shop, to a food truck experience to James Beard nominated chefs and everything in between and sandwiches.
June 12, 2023
Five Questions With Melanie Paul-Hus, the Director for Canada for Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency. The website is visitoccitanie.com.
Here the full interview HERE
Where is the area of Occitanie? I know it says South of France on your website, but give us an idea where Occitanie is?
Well, it starts in the southwestern part of France. And it goes all the way to the Mediterranean. So you can say it's squished between Bordeaux and Marseille. But when I say squished, I mean it in, in a funny way, because it's actually a huge territory. Occitanie is one of the largest tourism regions in France, as of today, and it spreads from the Pyrénées mountains, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. So, it's really a very diverse destination. And a lovely choice for Canadian travelers.
It does have everything its got mountains, it's got beaches, it's got rivers, it's got vineyards. So, there's something, as they always say for everyone, right?
Absolutely. So for people who don't know France very well, there are keywords, the city of Toulouse being one, the city of Montpellier. So those two are the largest cities in the region and both have a different style, a different history. Definitely a different landscape and architecture.
I would think most people from North America might be flying into Paris. So, let's use that as a reference point to get to Occitanie.
Sure. So you can land in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport and then you can take the train to Toulouse or a plane. Toulouse is far enough from Paris that you have frequent flights out of Paris. It's possible to enter from Spain, and go all the way to Toulouse quite easily by train or by car, or by plane. So the good news is Air Canada is launching a direct flight out of Montreal, starting in June 2023. And it's going to be operating all year long.
I'd like to know a little bit more about Toulouse itself. And can you kind of use that as a home base, and just branch out? Or is it better to go town to town?
I like the town to town idea. But I would probably spend at least two nights in Toulouse and then start your tour across the region. I recommend this option, because there's lots to see. And it's when you go to smaller towns that you can also immerse yourself and visit local markets. There are truffle markets, for instance, you know, lots of beautiful gastronomy discoveries that you can have in smaller villages. But what would be really interesting is to try to travel through the region by train, because that's something that the region is really promoting right now. They've renamed some of the train lines, they are actually regional trains. I would think that sticking to only one region would be a bit frustrating unless you plan on going every year.
Is there a better time to go to Occitanie? I mean, you are on the coast of the Mediterranean. So, the weather is always nice.
I think Canadians will have lots of options in shoulder seasons, which is what I would recommend, you know, weather starts being really amazing in March. So it's fairly new, but it's also a good time if you want to pay lower rates on hotels and even on flights. I've been in this area in October, November and it's still beautiful and the light you know, in the fall in this area is just amazing. I think spring and fall would be ideal. Because of course in the summer, it can get very hot, and then you prefer to be on the Mediterranean.
May 26, 2023
Five Questions with... Hubertus Funke, Executive Vice President and Chief Tourism Officer for San Francisco Travel.
Here the full interview HERE
This year several of San Francisco's most iconic attractions are commemorating major milestones, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and cable cars. To learn more here’s 5 Questions with Hubertus Funke, Executive Vice President and Chief Tourism Officer for San Francisco Travel.
Let's start with the Golden Gate Bridge, what's the best way to explore it?
There's a lot of different ways to explore the Golden Gate Bridge. For those who are able and willing to do it, of course, you can cross the bridge by foot. A lot of people do it that way. You have to dress a little warmly, because once you enter or approach the center of the bridge, it gets very windy. But it's a wonderful way to really get a good sense of the views and the magnitude of the bridge. It's a very majestic bridge and it's really fun to cross it. It's not a long walk but you know, it is a little bit of a hike. Other people tend to cross it by bike. Bike rentals and biking in San Francisco, in general is popular, and it's very easy to do. It's a relatively small city by size so we always recommend that people can do it, going by bike and exploring the different parts of the city is really recommended. And crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is a really fun thing to do.
So, what you can do is ride your bike along the waterfront and then cross the bridge. And then on the other side of the bridge is that beautiful little town called Sausalito, which really sits on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. And that's a really nice spot to have lunch and admire the skyline of San Francisco. And if you don't want to take your bike back across the bridge, then there's the option to take your bike on a ferry back to downtown San Francisco. And a lot of people do that. If you don't want to walk or take a bike, then there's the option to take a boat cruise. And those are very popular. All of these Bay cruises do go under the Golden Gate Bridge, which really offers very interesting views. And it gives you another real sense of the scale of the bridge. And it also offers wonderful views of the bridge in downtown San Francisco as well. So, lots of different options to really experience the bridge.
Now let's talk about Alcatraz. When I was there, I never got the chance to visit it because tickets were always sold out. So that's one thing that people should know, if they're planning on wanting to see Alcatraz make sure you get your tickets in advance. Right?
That is correct. So Alcatraz, you know many people have heard of it of course. It's the former prison that sits in the in the Bay of San Francisco, the really infamous prison. Many movies were filmed about Alcatraz obviously, and Alcatraz is run by the National Park Service. So, there are some capacity limitations, which is why we really recommend if people want to go and visit and want to be sure that they can go, that they booked these tickets in advance and you can do that on AlcatrazCruises.com. That is the official ticketing website to book your tickets. And certainly, if you know your trip in advance, you know, we do recommend that to do that as soon as you can. It's really a wonderful experience and it's a very eerie experience to be honest with you because you really get a sense of what prison life was. At the same time, it also offers you wonderful views of the San Francisco skyline. And that's kind of the irony, right? That that you had this person in prison that really had these amazing views of a beautiful city. But if you do not get a ticket, or if you don't really want to dedicate time to visit Alcatraz, there's also the bay cruises that I mentioned earlier for the Golden Gate Bridge, all of those circle Alcatraz Island and then you get a good sense of what the island looks like and the different structures on the island. So, but again, yes, if you really want to be sure to get onto the island, I would recommend making those reservations as soon as possible.
Now give me some tips for riding the cable cars.
Yeah, so the cable cars are also celebrating an anniversary this year. 150 years, hard to believe that, you know, somebody really came up with the concept of these famous cables years ago. But they're also a means of public transportation in San Francisco. So, they're certainly a tourist attraction but people use the cable cars to get around the city. There's a total of three Cable Car lines that traverse the city, and a single ride is $8. So, you can basically purchase tickets at different ticket locations throughout the city, and certainly at the cable car stops. But there's also a way to buy multiple, multi-day tickets. And that may be really the way to go for those who spend a couple of days in San Francisco, because those tickets are good on other means of public transportation. So, again, I think the cable cars are one of those things that people really associate with San Francisco, they're very charming. They're a really fun way to get from different points in the city to another one. They offer fantastic views of the city. And you get to commute with actual commuters in San Francisco. So, a really easy and fun way to use public transportation in a very unique mode of public transportation.
San Francisco is more than the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and cable cars. So, tell me about some of the other things that people might be interested in seeing or visiting in San Francisco?
Well, there’s lots of different things to do. You know, culturally, of course, San Francisco's famous for its cultural diversity, we have world class museums. There's the SF MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art. There's the contemporary Jewish Museum, there's the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences. So, for those who are interested in adding a little bit of culture to their trip, I think, you know, a visit to one of these museums is definitely recommended. If you're interested in in the performing arts, the San Francisco Opera is also celebrating an anniversary this year, 90 years. And they're having some really wonderful performances and a great schedule of performances on the calendar this year. The SF ballet is also a wonderful way to see wonderful dance performances. The San Francisco Ballet is really known around the world and throughout the season, they really bring in troops from around the world as well. So, I would say if those visitors who are interested in adding a little bit of culture and performing arts to their trip, that's certainly something we recommend.
Let's talk a little bit about Fisherman's Wharf, it's a beehive of activity, isn't it?
It is, you know, Fisherman's Wharf also one of those areas that people associate with San Francisco sits right on the waterfront. So, you have these beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the other side of the bay. And obviously there's a lot of attractions down in Fisherman's Wharf. First of all, a wide variety of hotels. We know that travelers favor the Fisherman's Wharf area when they come visit, especially families. So, we have a lot of options, options in terms of hotels, different categories, a lot of attractions and restaurants, the Bay cruises. Most of the Bay cruises and any other water activities leave from Fisherman's Wharf or from the from the area around Fisherman's Wharf. So, it's a really good option to explore the city and use it as a starting point.
April 19, 2023
Five Questions with... the Cruise Guru, David Yeskel
Here the full interview HERE
David Yeskel, the Cruise Guru just got back from sailing on MSC Seascapes inaugural sailing and on Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady.
Let's talk about MSC Cruises first. What did you find that stood out for you?
I was on the brand new MSC seascape which is their newest ship just launched from Miami in December. It was the inaugural voyage. A gorgeous, flashy beautiful ship. A lot of Italian design touches onboard which I really liked. The founding family and controlling family is Italian and and they have a hand in helping design the ships so they're really great looking. The ships literally sparkle, in the atrium for example, there are six Swarovski crystal line staircases. And it's just gorgeous. MSC ships are a lot of fun and this large mega ship competes with other contemporary cruise lines in their niche, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. They've got all the top deck amusements you'd expect. The waterpark water slides, they've also got this cool amusement park right on the top deck called Robotron. It kind of reminds me of a transformer that's gone wild. And you can ride that. So overall it’s a great looking ship. It also has the best cuisine; I would consider in their contemporary segment. A lot of shellfish homemade pastas, complex pastries and the best pizza by the slice I've ever had on any cruise line.
It must be very difficult when you're designing these ships and the programs to make them stand out from all the rest?
They are all different in a way. This is actually the fourth ship in this class for MSC, and they look pretty much the same with different design touches. But on each one they upped the game a little bit. For the Seascape it’s the Robotron on the top deck. But MSC made a couple of different lounges, different types of showrooms and new shows. So they really do make them different, even ships within the same class. And something really cool that MSC is doing is to have a ship within a ship product called MSC Yacht Club. The best way I could describe it or the best analogy I can use is on the top of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas where the top four floors are a Four Seasons Hotel with a separate entrance, separate pool, separate restaurant, you can stay in your bubble, or come down into Mandalay Bay and enjoy all the showrooms and restaurants and then go back into your serene bubble. MSC Yacht Club is the same way on a mass market contemporary ship. It's a luxury bubble that takes up the top three decks of the ship with a dedicated restaurant, lounge and pool deck. Everything you need is there, and you could stay within your bubble or you could go out and explore the rest of the ship and then come back into this key card protected area. That's your luxury bubble with your own butler and everything that goes with it on the top of the ship, so it's pretty cool.
It's kind of like a gated community on a cruise ship. Right?
What it really is, is the return of class-based cruising. They don't call it that but that's really what it is. But it's great for multi-generational families. The grandparents can just hang out in Yacht Club, the parents the kids can go out enjoy all the top deck amusements on the ship. They can get together for dinner and then come back together in Yacht Club, so it's a nice option and it is priced below where the equivalent luxury cruise would be like a Seaborne or a Silversea. But you still get unlimited alcohol, unlimited Wi Fi, you have a butler, you have a gourmet restaurant so it really is a good value proposition and perfect for multi generational families who have different interests.
Let's talk about Virgin Voyages now. I've always kept my eye on this because I always think Richard Branson, and we were talking about how cruise lines can do things differently. It seems like he's been spot on about doing things differently with the Virgin voyages.
Yeah, so Branson's brands are always different. They're edgy, they're cool like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin hotels. So what Virgin did is really reimagined the entire cruise experience. It's different in every way from checking in on their app, to this clever word play onboard. Everything's cleverly named like shore excursions are shore things. The gym is called B-Complex. And because it's 18 and over only, it's like a summer camp for adults but with a provocative twist. So, for instance, on the deck, there's the cabanas, and so many more than any other cruise line has. And they're all free to use. No reservation necessary. There are swings out on deck. So, it's fun, it's playful. The provocative part is that, there's a nod to traditional cruises in that there's a bingo program, but it's run by a drag queen. The ice cream parlor is named Like Me Till ice cream, things like that. It appeals to adults, it's edgy, the entertainments cool. They have these wild circus acrobatic shows, and more drag queens and other shows. It's certainly not for everybody, but it is edgy. It's interesting. It's a very LGBTQ friendly cruise product. It has a lot going for it.
And like I say, it's just totally different than any other cruise product out there. And it was designed to be like that. And it's funny, in the vein of summer camp for adults, there is a video arcade with all these retro games and they're free to play. They have air hockey, there’s shuffleboard, all free to play with another big game area with all kinds of other board games. And they're all free to take. And next to that is a counter called Carnival Eats where you can get hotdogs and pretzels and there's candy too. And that's all free. So it's cool. And some of the entertainment aboard just happens organically, like you'll be in a lounge and all of a sudden, some entertainers will come in and start dancing and singing. And they're good, professional level entertainers. So it's very interesting. They have the only tattoo parlors at sea by the way. They're called Squid Ink. And they only operate while the ship is at sea and moving. These are real tattoos. And it's the only cruise line that allows their crew to have visible tattoos and piercings. So it's kind of follows that edgy Virgin theme.
There's no Yacht Club on Virgin?
There's no Yacht Club, there is a suite area, so the suites cost more and you do have a private pool. but otherwise everything else is open to everyone. And by the way, they include Wi Fi in the fares, they include tips in the fares and all are restaurants included. So there are no up charges for any restaurants. They're all essentially specialty restaurants. One is a Korean-Mexican Steakhouse, another is a cool restaurant called Test Kitchen that uses molecular gastronomy. It's a great meal and an interesting concept. Those are all included too, which makes it more fun because you don't have to worry about being nickeled and dimed. And as you'd expect from a virgin brand, plenty of great musical entertainment aboard and like I say the shows are even different. And all the fun.
March 12, 2023
Five Questions with... Merren McArthur, CEO of Lynx Air
Here the full interview HERE
I got the opportunity to fly on Lynx airs inaugural flight from Calgary to Phoenix. I also got the chance to chat with Lynx air CEO Merren MacArthur on that flight so here is Our Five Questions With Merren MacArthur, CEO of Lynx Air.
This is the first time I've ever done an interview on an airplane. So I'm very excited. But this is only part of the network of new service that Lynx is offering to the United States .
Yes, so this is our second US destination. A couple of weeks ago, we launched Toronto to Orlando. And next week, we're launching Calgary to Los Angeles and the week after that, Calgary to Las Vegas, so it's very exciting.
And it was about 10 months ago that you launched your first flight from Calgary to Vancouver. What's the last 10 months been like?
Oh, wow, it's been a whirlwind. It's been exciting. It's been a lot of challenges. The whole airline industry has been very challenged over the last 10 months. The papers are full of stories of airlines leaving passengers stranded. But I'm pleased to say that Lynx has got an industry leading record for getting our passengers to their destination. For the first six months of our eight months in operation, we had the lowest cancellation rate in the industry at less than 1%.
When you see the chaos at the airports and the stories about delays and cancellations, being part of the industry. How does that make you feel? Does it kind of erode the confidence of people when they're flying?
Yeah, I have mixed feelings. I feel for the passengers, and I do worry about them losing confidence in airlines. I do also think that it's been a really challenging environment to operate airlines. You know, if you think about it, all the airlines had to shut down rapidly over COVID had to furlough their people. And then all of a sudden, the regulations really relaxed, and they had to suddenly bring all their people back on board and get their planes back in the air just in time for the summer peak. And demand came back, I think, stronger than anyone expected. So it's pretty tough as an airline to be operating this environment, things are largely out of their control. But you know, from our point of view, it's as I said, you have to have a focus on the right things. And from our point of view, passengers want to get to their destination, they'd rather take a delay, then a cancellation. So that's our focus. And then it's about communication, and making sure that you're communicating with passengers about what's happening and what's going on and helping them out when things go wrong.
Let's talk about Lynx Air and the whole experience. What do people need to know if they've never flown on Lynx Air?
So we're adopting the ultra low cost carrier model. That's been very successful in Europe in the United States opening in the skies for everyone to fly, it hasn't really been taken up so strongly in Canada. So that's where we think the opportunity is. And we know that ultra low cost carriers have a reputation historically, for having poor customer service and old crammed planes and canceling flights at the last minute. And we want to redefine Canadian's expectation of ultra low cost carriers, because we believe that you should be able to get a great flying experience at an ultra affordable price.
We have a transparent ala carte pricing model, so that you pick and pay for what you want, and nothing more. So you can save on your journey and spend more, you know, at the destination that you're going to which is what's important to everybody. So that means that if you want to just fly really light with a small carry on you don't have to pay anything extra. But if you want to take carry on or you want to get priority boarding or something like extra legroom, then you pay a little bit extra. We don't offer food and entertainment which is a bit unusual. But we take the view that if we encourage passengers to bring their own food and entertainment, they get better choice and it's better value for them. Again, it comes down to the communication so we communicate clearly with them in an email a couple of days before they come to the airport. And then again at the airport. We've got signage as well so they've got plenty of time to get some nice food from one of the airport vendors. And you know, who likes airline food anyway?
So take me to the future. What's down the road? Can you can you share a few things?
So we are expanding in the lead up to summer. After the US expansion is complete we're going to be adding some more domestic destinations. I can't share them with you right now, it is still still a secret. But we'll be offering 115 flights each way a week in and out of Calgary and I think it's 30 flights in and out of Toronto. So ramping up really quickly. We have 16 destinations across the country. So it's gonna be very exciting time.
February 28, 2023
Five Questions with... Dan Lockyer, Chief Revenue Officer with Dream Yacht Charters.
Here the full interview HERE
Tell me about Dream Yacht Charters, how it began and how you got where you are today?
Sure, well, we're, we're a worldwide yacht charter company. We operate yachts all over the globe. The company started back in 2001 started in our first base in the Seychelles with a fleet of six boats. And over the years, we've expanded added more and more locations, more different types of ways to go sailing and enjoy the ocean and these destinations. And we now operate just over 50 locations around the world with a fleet of about 900 yachts, so it's been quite a journey.
When people say a dream yacht vacation or something like that. Do they have the feeling that, I could never possibly afford that? That's for the lifestyle of the rich and famous kind of thing. But it's not that way. Is it?
That's a common misconception. And actually, when we when we tell people the prices, and they hear what it costs, they're usually very pleasantly surprised. I mean, the whole ethos of our company is to make sailing more accessible to everyone. When you look at the pricing its comparable to a resort holiday or to a cruise holiday.
Let's talk about some of the locations. Where do you sail?
We started in the Seychelles, so that's where we call home. But as we we've grown; we cover some of the most popular cruising grounds in the world. Places like Greece and Croatia in the Mediterranean. throughout the Caribbean. We have a big presence in the British Virgin Islands, all the way through the islands from St Maarten, Antigua, Martinique, Guadeloupe down to Grenada. Bahamas is proving very popular for us. We operate two locations there with quite different cruising grounds. And then we have some of the other exotic locations. We have a large fleet in Tahiti in French Polynesia, which offers some really stunning scenery. We have Seychelles, Thailand. We operate in the Whitsundays in Australia. So, we really are everywhere you could want to sail now.
Tell me how it works, using myself for an example, I would never want to attempt to Captain a boat so I guess I would need a crew to help me along. And if I wanted to go somewhere in the Caribbean, or some place like that, do I just show up? How does it work?
Exactly. So, in the website, you can see the different types of cruises we have available and where they're available. If you were to go for a cruise with the support of a group, sort of catered voyage that's available for most of our locations, and you could then decide. If it's just a couple of people traveling, you might decide that you want to take a cabin on one of our cruises with a set departure and join other like-minded people. Or it might be that you want to take a large group and take a boat to yourself. Once we decide on the location, there's a couple of different options available. You can then see the availability, the pricing of each of the options in the itinerary, which will give you an idea for what you can expect to experience within that week. And one of the things that we really stress is we've got an experienced team on hand to help you at any stage. We understand it's a really daunting prospect for non-sailors so we offer up a lot of information on the website, but we're still got the human touch behind it, to help guide you through the decisions.
You touched on what's included? It's almost like an all inclusive vacation. Is it not?
On the cabin product? Yes, more or less. All the meals are included, drinks with meals and the service of the crew throughout. There's a couple of options that people can choose to take and they're optional because some people prefer just to relax on the boat or on the beach that we're visiting that day, but it's more or less all inclusive. Yeah.
Hear the full interview HERE