This week, Paul Wiseman, Trafalgar USA President, and Catherine Reilly, Brendan Vacations Managing Director in Dublin, swung by our New York offices and shared with us the latest on travel trends to Scotland, Ireland and continental Europe.
For 2015, Brendan is focusing exclusively on Ireland and Scotland travel with 13 guided tours as well as customizable independent Private Chauffeur, Locally Hosted and Self-Drive Vacations. 2015 is poised to be the third year in a row of “great growth” for Brendan, Reilly said. The Gathering, a year-long reunion festival for the Irish diaspora around the world in 2013, provided a significant boost to Ireland’s tourism numbers, and American travelers are looking to go back to go back and explore more.
To that end, Brendan is introducing several new guided tours to its Ireland brochure, including Secrets of Ireland, a small-group trip that focuses on hidden gems and overnights in castles like Donegal or Ballynahinch. (The latter castle has 39 guest rooms; the tour is limited to 26 travelers.) “It’s unique to stay in a place that’s 800 years old,” Reilly said. “How often can you do that?”
Brendan’s partnership with Trafalgar is also helpful for travel agents, Reilly said. Both companies are now represented by a joint team of district sales managers, a reservations center, expanded groups department and sales and marketing executive teams. For consumers, on the other hand, the two companies will still be treated autonomously as separate brands.
Trafalgar is also seeing positive numbers for 2015, Wiseman said. The summer season is already 60 percent booked up, and the company is reaching out to individual travelers by reducing or cutting its single supplement on many tours for next year. “We’ll see what happens,” Wiseman said when asked if this change would be made permanent across the board.
Like Brendan’s Secrets of Ireland tour, Trafalgar is also reducing tour capacity to bring guests to smaller destinations. Eleven trips worldwide (six of which are in Europe) now limit capacity to 26 guests or fewer in order to keep experiences intimate and exclusive. “We have to keep our numbers down for access [to smaller hotels],” Wiseman said. In Italy, for example, Trafalgar offers a Gastronomy in Piedmont tour (“Piedmont is the new Tuscany,” Wiseman said) that includes an exclusive Be My Guest meal at a small, private vineyard.
To help agents close early sales on its expanded range of Guided Vacations, Brendan is offering a three-week sale of up to $1,068 per couple off air-inclusive trips* deposited by October 17 (subject to availability). Full payments for this air-inclusive offer, as well as the standard 10 percent Early Payment land savings available beyond it, are due December 18. Offers are combinable with 5 percent Past Guest* (of Brendan or our Travel Corporation sister brands), Groups and other year-round savings.
Catherine Reilly will join agents remotely on Wednesday, October 8 at 10:00 AM PST/1:00 PM PST for a look at what’s new. Attendees can win one of three $100 gift cards. Register at www.BrendanVacations.com/launchwebinar.