Business briefs: Air Canada to switch SRQ flag

October 22, 2013 

Flights from Sarasota-Bradenton to Toronto will be looking a little different when Air Canada will switch its service to its new Air Canada Rouge brand.

The Canadian air carrier launched the lowercase flag July 1 to be a hip, trendier version of Air Canada, carrying about 140 passengers on its A319 in Sarasota-Bradenton.

The carrier will make the switch at Sarasota-Bradenton International airport this season, said Mark Stuckey, vice president of special projects and development at SRQ. Essentially, Rouge takes out the first class cabin to add 20 more seats to fit in more passengers. The cabins have new seats and interior, too.

The in-flight entertainment will be the most noticeable difference. Rouge is offering an in-flight streaming wireless entertainment system called player for $5 unlimited service per flight that can be accessed through a smartphone and tablet app. Forgot your iPad or don't have one? Rent one for $10. Premium members get additional services for free or at a discounted price.

Air Canada rouge winter/spring daily flights are between SRQ and Toronto for now. The airport is also in talks with Calgary-based carrier WestJet for flights to other Canadian cities including Montreal, Stuckey said.

Help with signing up for healthcare exchange

The Gulf Coast Association of Health Underwriters offers access to agents and brokers certified to sell on the health insurance exchange.

The licensed professionals are community members specially trained to assist individuals, families and small-business owners navigate the new marketplace.

Marketplace open enrollment began October 1 and ends March 15, 2014. Health insurance coverage purchased through the marketplace can have an activation date as early as January 1, 2013. Go to www.nahu.org and click on "Find an Agent" and enter your zip code for a list of experience, specially trained agent in your area.

For more information, call Suann Southwick, 941-704-7964 or email suann@essentialbenefitsflorida.com.

Tourism conference brings in industry stars

Simon Bradley, vice president of marketing, North America for Virgin Atlantic, and Jonathan Frolich, vice president-global innovation for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, will speak to the Service Design + Tourism Conference to be held at Ringling College of Art and Design Nov. 7-9.

Bradley and Frolich will take the stage Nov. 9 from 8:30-9:30 a.m. to speak to the audience of design, business, and tourism professionals. Frolich's presentation, "Human Centered Innovation: Designing New Experiences in Hospitality," will look at how Hyatt is using design thinking as a framework for innovation and the transformation of guest experiences.

Bradley's presentation,

"Flying in the Face of Ordinary: How Virgin Atlantic Designs a World Class Service Experience that Sets the Standard for Excellence in Air Travel," will share how Virgin Atlantic creates exceptional passenger experiences and engages their customers year round and turns them into ambassadors for the brand.

Bradley has more than 15 years experience in international travel marketing for a range of organizations, including VisitBritain. His responsibilities for one of the most iconic airline brands in the world include brand development, brand communications, partnerships, online and CRM.

Frolich has worked for Hyatt Hotels Corporation for 19 years, serving in senior managerial positions at hotels that include Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Park Hyatt Sydney and Park Hyatt Los Angeles. As vice president of global innovation, Frolich leads efforts to establish new processes of innovation to yield creative and meaningful experiences and ways of operating Hyatt hotels to greater impact guests, owners and colleagues.

-- Herald staff report

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