Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO — As Canada prepares to recognize its 150th birthday we sat down with Susan Catto, head of publishing at Travelzoo to discuss how the organization plans to help the country celebrate the big day.
Travelzoo is a global Internet media company with a focus on helping travellers find the best deals possible and to that end their experts research and publish travel, entertainment and local deals. Last November, Travelzoo celebrated 10 years in business.
Catto spoke about market trends, Canada’s hottest destinations, future partnerships, birthday plans and, believe it or not, carousels.
Vacay.ca: Can you tell us about how things are at Travelzoo during Canada’s 150th birthday year?
Susan Catto: Travelzoo is a fun and wonderful place to work and of course it’s such an interesting time for the industry and for Canada with this year being the 150th anniversary. It couldn’t be a better time.
Vacay.ca: I assume you have some things planned for this year?
Catto: Yes! So we have launched 150 days of Travelzoo Tips which we started 150 days before Canada Day. It wraps up on July 1st, so every day leading up to Canada Day we are offering another Travelzoo tip on how best to enjoy this country. We have actually surveyed our members to get their tips and we are looking for hidden gems, things in their communities that they think are worth a visit. Best ways to see a place, how you can skip the crowds and lines at really popular attractions for example. As well we are highlighting some of the things that make your travel better, smarter, more affordable. We hope that just by reading the tips — and I’ve found this to be the case for me — even if you’re not visiting these places you are going to get a sense of just how much this country has to offer.
Click here to see the 150 Travelzoo Tips
Vacay.ca: And the 150 tips list will be available for people to read after Canada Day?
Catto: Yes, that’s correct.
Vacay.ca: Now I have to say you have already gathered quite a few interesting tips from some of your members. There are too many to list here but here is number 47 from Marjorie, and I agree wholeheartedly with her suggestion: Drive the “Lighthouse Route” (Highway#3) on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. She writes: “It’s the slow, winding road along the coastline, so you get to see and smell the ocean with your car windows down. And you can also stop at quirky or interesting little shops and cafes.”
Catto: Yes, I like that one. One that I thought was interesting and really caught on with the people who saw it was the Lakeside Park Carousel in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Vacay.ca: Oh, yes, it’s in Port Dalhousie I know it well. Interesting. It’s a gem, but not something that would be known to too many tourists outside Canada.
Catto: Well, one of our members wrote in about it with wonderful details of how she likes to take her granddaughter on it. I’ve been in St. Catharines but I didn’t realize this carousel existed. Now that I know about it I want to see it.
And then we also have really practical advice. For example, if you’re going to Georgian Bay Islands National Park and you want to see the islands we have advice on the best route around the islands in order to get the best views. You know, we are doing this over 150 days and there’s such a range of things to be discovered in Canada. And the good news is we are still taking tips, right up until July 1st. We want people to see the project and think ‘They haven’t written about this yet.’ We want to get those tips from people. This is a year that travelling to places in Canada is at such a high that Canadians are more interested in travelling within Canada than ever. Some people are saying that they are thinking of making four trips a year within this country.
Vacay.ca: That’s true, and it’s not only Canadians. People are interested in seeing Canada from around the world.
Catto: Absolutely! There’s a huge interest in visiting Canada from outside the country. Visits from America and Germany nearly doubled year-over-year. With Canada being a destination of choice both domestically and internationally I think this is an exciting time for Travelzoo to offer some really amazing experiences within this country.
Vacay.ca: What are the favourite places people are asking you for?
Catto: Well, Banff is a perennial favourite with Canadians and international visitors. Our survey found that Banff and Lake Louise were what Canadians felt were must-see destinations, followed closely by Niagara Falls. Both destinations are really popular with Travelzoo members in Canada and it’s easy to see why. They are just amazing examples of natural beauty. They are also really nice places to visit with fantastic restaurants and hotels, spas, the whole package.
Within Canada obviously the big cities are Toronto, Vancouver, we have a lot of interest in these cities. And you know I think we are going to see people going a little further afield. Obviously many people are going to be heading to the Captial Region for the different celebrations that will be going on all year long. I hope people booked early because it’s going to be really busy on Canada Day.