Jeremy Palmer, senior vice president
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace?
Many of our new itineraries are part of our “Exotics” collection, including “Kingdoms & Dragons: Singapore to Bali,” “Great Migration: Tanzania & Kenya,” “Odyssey in China: Beijing, Chengdu & Hong Kong,” and our two new mountain gorilla safaris. We have three new itineraries in Italy plus a new “Under the Tuscan Sun” event in Tuscany and a new “Grand European Holiday” in London, Paris and Rome with two nights in the Umbrian countryside. In North America, we’re introducing “Sacred Lands: National Parks of the Southwest” and “Vancouver and the Rockies by Rocky Mountaineer.”
What is your most exotic, unusual new offering?
It’s a toss-up between our new 14-day itinerary that explores Singapore, Indonesia and Bali (including a visit to Komodo Island to see Komodo dragons) and our two African safaris that culminate with a mountain gorilla trek in the Rwandan highlands.
What’s your “tried-and-true” mainstay offering?
We’ve been bringing guests to the U.S. National Parks since our very first tour 93 years ago, and they continue to be incredibly popular today. For many years we’ve offered the ability to stay right inside the parks. These in-the-park accommodations can sell out a year or more in advance, because the very best times in the parks are early evening and early morning, when the majority of visitors have departed for the day. We’ve recently enhanced our existing national parks tours, and designed new itineraries through our partnership with Ken Burns.
Are you modifying your offerings to accommodate the desire many consumers have to “live like a local” and to have “authentic” experiences?
We’ve always worked to provide authentic, enriching experiences. In reality, though, we go beyond “living like a local” to provide access and deliver experiences that are far superior to what most locals typically enjoy. For example, most residents of Rome aren’t able to visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums after-hours, when the crowds have left for the day, like Tauck guests do. Most Londoners don’t get to attend a private talk by Celia Sandys, Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, biographer, and former travel companion, and then meet her afterwards. And people who’ve lived in New Orleans their entire lives don’t just walk into Preservation Hall for a private performance by their famous jazz band or attend a lecture on jazz by Ken Burns, and enjoy a meet-and-greet with him later.
What is your strategy these days and why?
Our key strategy is to constantly evolve and refine our products to better support our overall mission, which is to enhance our guests’ lives by crafting and delivering authentic, enriching and transformational travel experiences.
For example, we’ve dramatically increased our small group offerings, we’re continually expanding into new destinations (including Singapore and Rwanda in 2019), and we continue to offer experiences that stretch the traditional definition of a “tour,” specifically, our unique, once-in-a-lifetime Tauck Events and our Tauck Bridges collection of trips for families.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2018/19?
We’ve always felt that Tauck and travel agents are perfect partners. The kind of traveler who appreciates the high-touch, “do-it-for-you” service that we provide on our tours and cruises is also going to welcome the service that an agent provides. Tauck also offers an all-inclusive product, and with everything built into our prices, agents earn commission on everything from airport transfers and luggage handling to admission fees at the Louvre. We’ve put a number of programs in place to support those partnerships. We offer our online Tauck Specialist agent certification program through the Travel Institute
[Separately], Tauck Academy is a three-day program with in-person training delivered by the Tauck team. Attendance is invitation-only; those who complete the course become Tauck Certified Agents and enjoy savings on travel, exclusive access to newly opened itineraries and more. We also offer our Agent Rewards program.