Tauck is adding new itineraries that are “small-groups only,” where each and every departure features a small group, according to Senior Vice President Jeremy Palmer. It’s also upping its focus on education and recognition. Palmer shared what else is new with Travel Agent.
What is your focus on the U.S. Travel agent for 2019/20?
Our focus is on education and recognition. We’ll be holding a record 10 educational Tauck Academies this year and another Tauck Achievers incentive trip this year to China and Hong Kong. We’ll also be debuting our new Tauck Specialist online training program. This new platform will allow advisors to become Tauck Specialists using any mobile device from anywhere in the world. For 2020, we already have a Tauck Academy planned for Japan, and Tauck Achievers trips in the works for Africa and Hawaii.
How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
We’re adding new itineraries that are “small-groups only,” where each and every departure features a small group. We’re also featuring more “small group departures” of our existing tours, setting aside specific dates where we cap the group size. And we’re also splitting the difference: taking some of our existing tours, modifying them slightly (often by using smaller, boutique hotels) and operating those tours with small groups. On the exotics front, this year alone we’ve added a new “Great Migration” safari in Tanzania and Kenya, two new safaris with a mountain gorilla trekking component in Rwanda, and a new Singapore-to-Bali itinerary. Tauck Bridges family trips are on pace for a record year. Enhancements include the addition of a dedicated Tauck Family Host on all of our Bridges river cruise departures, the addition of family-friendly quad accommodations on Bridges land tours, and the publication of our third Tauck Bridges Kids Brochure. The Kids Brochure really engages younger travelers, enlisting them in the vacation planning process. At the same time, we continue to actively court solo travelers. For 2019, we’re again waiving the single supplement entirely on all Category 1 cabins aboard every Tauck riverboat. With our land journeys, we’ve reduced the single supplement by up to $600 on 175 departures of 56 tours visiting five continents.
What new destinations have you introduced this year?
Our guests have steadily become more well traveled, more confident, and more interested in exploring new destinations, so a lot of the expansion we’re seeing is in so-called exotic destinations. New for this year are Rwanda (where our guests will trek to spend time with mountain gorilla families), Singapore and Indonesia, where our guests will travel to Komodo Island to see Komodo dragons.
Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available? In China, we’ve launched a new 16-day itinerary that explores Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Yangshuo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In Africa, we have a new nine-day journey that tracks the annual Great Migration of wildebeests and other species, and it features three nights in a mobile camp that can be relocated along the migration’s route to ensure prime wildlife viewing. Closer to home, we’ve added our nine-day “Vancouver & the Rockies by Rocky Mountaineer,” which travels by rail to Kamloops aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Our guests view the passing scenery from a glass-domed observation car, or they enjoy GoldLeaf Service on an outdoor viewing platform. In Europe, we’ve launched our “Grand European Holiday,” a 12-day, small-group tour that explores London, Paris and Rome (with two nights in the medieval town of Gubbio in Umbria). Another small-group tour is the eight-day “A Week in…Naples, Capri & Amalfi,” and we’ve totally revamped and enhanced two other European itineraries; “Sicilian Odyssey” and “Uncommon Venice, Florence, & Rome.”
What are some of the challenges on the horizon for tourism in general?
We’re trying to sort out the precise impacts of the new restrictions on travel to Cuba. We’re also very aware of the challenges our industry is facing with so called “overtourism,” which is actually a term I dislike because it’s overly negative and ignores the many positive contributions that global tourism provides. Longer-term, we always keep a watchful eye on the economy and world events. Overall – and in spite of the challenges – we remain optimistic. As a species, we’re hard-wired to travel and explore, and as a culture, we’ve become steadily more resolute in our determination to travel. Our guests have become remarkably resilient, and they continue to place more importance on experiences rather than possessions.