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Tour Ops Weigh in on OberammergauJanuary 13, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox
It seems surprising that just a few months before its premiere, tickets to Oberammergau’s once-per-decade Passion Play are still available. We checked in with several tour operators to see how their packages to Oberammergau were faring.
Mike Schields, director of group sales and emerging markets for the Globus Family of
Brands, acknowledged that this year’s sales are not at previous Oberammergau event levels, but said that Globus is at 80 percent of their initial goal set almost three years ago, prior to the economic collapse.
“We're happy with where we are, given the market forces that have surrounded us,” he said. As for a reason for the slowdown, Schields believes that people are wary of spending the money to take the trip, even one that only comes along once every 10 years. “We're not seeing any other tangible reason for fewer bookings,” he says.
Brittany Anselmo of Insight Vacations, meanwhile, says that while Insight does still have some availability on Oberammergau departures, they are currently up approximately10 percent on 2010 Oberammergau bookings when compared to 2000 Oberammergau bookings. “We decided not to saturate the marketplace with communication pieces,” she says about their marketing strategies. “We were a bit more selective and targeted particular group producers and agents that were more inclined to sell this type of product. We have also worked with some of our preferred partners on more aggressive marketing such as reduced rates ($100 per person) when booked by a specific date.”
Nigel Osborne, president of Virgin Vacations USA, says that sales have picked up over the last few weeks—“and luckily for the consumer, there has never been a better time to travel. With sales a little slower than previous years, terms and conditions are more consumer-friendly, and there are deals to be found.” Overall business for 2010, both spring and summer, he says, “is very strong.”