We caught up with Marc Kazlauskas, president of Insight Vacations, to find out about the tour operator’s new 2014 brochure and the latest trends.
Notably, Insight will be launching several new tours to create the company’s largest European program ever, with 115 itineraries, seven new “mini-trips” (which Kazlauskas says run from four to seven days) and eight new premium itineraries.
New tours include “Country Roads of Croatia,” which covers the country from north to south. “We’ve seen Croatia grow from a secondary destination to a primary one,” Kazlauskas explained. Over the past 10 years, demand for the country has gone “through the roof,” and Insight sold out any tour that stopped there for a brief visit.
Another tour covers the Principalities of Europe, starting in Spain and covering Italy, San Marino, Moldova, the Vatican and Monaco. “These are destinations that people sometimes just get to spend an hour in,” Kazlauskas noted. The last new tour covers Eastern Europe, from Berlin to Dresden, Austria and several cities in Poland.
“At the end of every tour, we give a questionnaire to our guests and ask where people want to go,” Kazlauskas said when asked how these tours were developed. “We also speak with agents to get their feedback. ‘What are your clients asking for that we don’t have?’ We also have an online community of past clients we can ask for input.”
The new destinations are significant areas for growing Insight’s business, Kazlauskas noted, but as big as they are, Western Europe still dominates U.S. traffic across the Atlantic. “We see growth France, Italy, Ireland and Spain,” he said. “We have 12 itineraries to Italy right now, and we can’t add them fast enough. While we see growth and potential in Eastern Europe, the volume and numbers are still in Western Europe.”
Airfares, he added, have stabilized in recent years, and travelers seem to have accepted that airfare is no longer inexpensive. But there are still deals to be had, especially for those willing to book early and pay in full. Those who pay off their trip completely by January 15 next year will save 10 percent off their total price, and frequent Insight travelers get an additional 5 percent discount. “The early bookings are phenomenal,” he added. “They’re as good as we’ve seen in 10 years.”
Kazlauskas recommends agents encourage their clients to book early. “We know that airfares will get tougher to find, and tour availability will be harder to find,” he said, noting that clients will be happy when they know they’re confirmed for their vacation, and agents will be happy to have the booking in the bag. Trips to Scotland that include the annual Tattoo next year are already selling out as the country gears up for its year-long Homecoming festivities. “That will be a hotspot for 2014,” he said.