Sleepy (and chilly) Niagara on the Lake, Ont., got a healthy dose of California tourism sunshine last week as the state’s tourist board checked into town for its annual Canadian sales mission, attracting close to 40 members of the Canadian travel trade, along with an equal cohort of destination and supplier representatives from the Golden State.
The unique three-day event, held at the town’s popular Pillar and Post Inn and organized by Visit California’s Canadian reps, the Zeno Group, included a diverse program of panel discussions, speed-dating, mini-trade show, and plenty of relationship-building events, such as winery and brewery tours, Niagara Falls visits (including ziplining), High Tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel, trivia games, and a pub night at a historic venue in the historic town.
Attendees from this country included major tour operator and airline representatives and buyers, some local travel agents, and media (including Travel Industry Today). Just some of the companies represented included Air Canada/ACV, Transat, Lynx Air, TravelBrands, Disney (Cdn. office), and CAA.
For their part California delegates were able to learn more intimately about their state’s top priority and most-likely-to-travel-there market (Canada) and its latest consumer demographic and travel trends, while importantly advancing business deals and touting their own destination’s news and developments.
Among the insights for the California delegates delivered by the panel on Canadian travel habits were:
• Canadians are at almost at pre-pandemic travelling levels, and are spending on average 9% more – most notably on premium/luxury products
• But while willing to spend more, travellers are still looking for value in order to stretch their trips
• “Revenge travel” is alive and well
• Competition for Canadian travellers is increasing, not least from places that previously “took Canadians for granted” and want them back
• Business travel is a mixed bag: big conferences have resumed, quick in-and- outs are really struggling
• Indigenous and wellness tourism are booming, as is a desire for eco travel and authentic experiences
• Trendsetter travel – to off-the-radar destinations or being the first go somewhere – is gaining momentum
• Gen A (starting in 2010) are starting to influence travel choices.
As for the Californians on hand, delegates ranged from San Diego and Palm Springs to Napa and Yosemite, and a couple of dozen more in between. For more on what they had to say, stay tuned for a future article!
First published at Travel Industry Today