Steve Born, chief marketing officer
Have you seen the age of your customers change at all in the past year or so? How about their mindset?
The age of our customer has been trending slightly lower in key segments of our business, like our Avalon “Active Discovery” cruises. We’ve also seen an increase company-wide in multigenerational travel, with grandparents, children and grandchildren enjoying our tours, independent travel packages and river cruises together. The mindset of our customer continues to encompass travelers who are curious and want to see the world in a whole new way. Each of our brands takes guests beyond the normal “must see sights” into the stories behind them and local experiences.
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace?
For 2018, as part of our 90th birthday celebration, we introduced a series of “Undiscovered Italy” tours for both Globus and Cosmos [in which] we take travelers to the incredible places where Italian locals vacation. We visit places like Bari, Alberobello, Castellana Grotte (Globus’ “Hidden Treasures of Southern Italy”); Palermo, Agrigento, Ragusa, Mount Etna (Globus’ “The Sicilian”); Vinci, Lucca, Greve (Cosmos’ “Gourmet Tuscany”) and Fasano and Lecce (Cosmos’ “Apulia, the Heel of Italy”).
Travelers are looking for authentic, off-the-beaten-path destinations. We will be expanding our “Undiscovered” portfolio in new destinations in 2019.
We also recognize that there are different ways to travel. While some may choose to go with a group, others like a DIY vacation. Some want a hybrid of the two. That’s where Monograms fits in [inviting] travelers to explore the world independently, with expert help (via our on-site Local Hosts). In 2018, we expanded its portfolio exponentially with daily departures in major cities across Europe and YourWay packages, giving our travelers more length-of-stay choices in Europe’s major cities. We will be widening those possibilities further in 2019.
What is your most exotic, unusual new offering?
One unusual offering amongst our Cosmos exotics portfolio is on the “Simply Vietnam” tour…where guests stay in Phong Nha National Park (no other tour operator in the U.S. is doing this) on a farm stay: An incredible experience to see the Phong Nha caves (a UNESCO site) while also having some time at the farm close to the park.
In addition, in the Gobi desert (offered on a Mongolia extension with our Cosmos China tours), guests spend two days exploring the Gobi with an overnight in a traditional ger.
Are you modifying your offerings to accommodate the desire many consumers have to “live like a local” and to have “authentic” experiences?
Yes. Helping our travelers get off-the-beaten path with our new “Undiscovered” series takes them to places the locals visit for more authentic, immersive experiences. Globus also provides travelers the opportunity to enjoy “Local Favorites” on every tour — experiences the locals recommend. Avalon Waterways also lets travelers have more immersive experiences by way of our new “Active Discovery” itineraries on the Danube, Rhine and Rhone rivers.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2018/19?
Travel agents are an integral part of our business. We support them by providing a best-in-class education program (GFOB University) and a dedicated national Business Development team to help them sell our products while also growing their business. From helping our agents host over 500 consumer shows a year, to giving agents access to unparalleled, complimentary marketing materials, a core goal is helping our agent partners be successful. We strive to make it easy for agents to take action to create demand for their business — like with our “Undiscovered Italy” campaign — by helping them identify past touring clients and offering them new and unique ways to see Europe.
What is your overall strategy these days?
The Globus family of brands is focused on what our guests desire from their vacation. We understand that they have chosen a tour for a reason. It’s their time to be taken care of and enjoy every moment of the journey. They want to indulge their curiosities and experience new cultures, to reinvigorate their senses and taste new foods, to see the must-see sites while also learning the stories behind them.