Trafalgar is fresh off the launch of an itinerary exploring Native American history in the Southwestern United States, and more off-the-beaten-path destinations are on the way, says President Melissa da Silva. Of particular note are new experiences in Newfoundland and Colombia. We spoke with da Silva for more on the latest from the company.
What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers? How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
We’re particularly proud of our new “Southwest Native Trails” itinerary, focused solely on immersing guests in Native American history and culture. This JoinTrafalgar experience — giving guests the chance to become part of the sustainability solution while bettering the lives of locals and their communities — takes travelers off the beaten path to ruins, dwellings and places of great significance, including Canyon de Chelly National Monument, providing exclusive and in depth access to native communities and traditions. Travel to chase astrological phenomena like a solar eclipse, aurora borealis or constellations, has recently taken off. We’re offering two brand-new trips in 2020 where guests can fulfill their astro-dreams, which are already proving extremely popular. Guests can visit the International Dark City of Tuscon on our “Americas Great Desert National Parks” and “The Magnificent Southwest” itineraries. While 80 percent of the world’s population lives under ‘skyglow,’ brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas, Tuscon limits light pollution to preserve the night sky. Trafalgar guests can join an experienced astronomer to view constellations and learn about the wonders of astronomy. More and more, we find guests choose Trafalgar specifically because of the opportunities we offer to interact with locals. For over a decade we’ve offered Be My Guest experiences, where we bring travelers into the homes of locals to get to know each other on a personal level over a delicious meal native to that place, so guests can get a taste of daily life in that destination. For example, our first-ever Be My Guest experience came to be in Sorrento, Italy, when the Esposito sisters welcomed our guests into their home over a homecooked meal and homemade limoncello. We believe the best connections are made over a good meal, and travelers have taken notice, driving increased demand. Be My Guest experiences, are now included on 98 percent of our itineraries. Our partners report and we can confirm that more and more, families want to experience something new together. They want to go beyond a typical beach vacation and appreciate the ease and convenience of going guided. We’ve seen this trend on our family vacations, like “Gladiators, Gondolas and Gold,” 10 days through Italy with gladiator costumes and pizza-making lessons for the kids and photography lessons for grownups, plus kid-friendly city walking tours complete with gelato stops.
What new destinations have you introduced this year? What was the reason?
In 2020, we will continue to see the increased demand in discovering smaller, off-the-beaten-path destinations. In 2020, we’re launching “Scenic Wonders of Newfoundland, Labrador and Ile Saint Pierre.” We are also launching in Colombia in 2020 with “Colombia Rediscovered.”
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
We’ve seen an increase in travelers seeking local experiences, new ways to experience global traditions and events across the board; which is why we’ve created a trip specifically surrounding Diwali to meet the influx in demand for Trafalgar travelers. Diwali is one of India’s most exciting cultural events that happens each October and visitors want to feel as though they are part of it. And for Brendan Vacations, the Ireland and Scotland experts, we’ve curated an itinerary in lieu of the season 8 “Game of Thrones” finale to bring travelers through the film sites throughout Winterfell and The Iron Islands via private chauffeur for seven days.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2019/20?
At Trafalgar, our travel advisor partners are essential to our business, so we are continuously enhancing our training and tools to serve them. Our recently improved My Travel Portal (MTP) platform is a good example of our efforts to do that. From one cohesive online portal, advisors can help travelers personalize their trip, access day-by-day itineraries and easily retrieve all documentation. In fact, when clients opt for e-docs, Trafalgar will plant a tree in conjunction with the non-for-profit organization focused on global reforestation, One Tree Planted. Because we know firsthand experience is the best training and sales tool, we’ve also instituted the Agents in Action incentive program, giving advisors the opportunity to travel with Trafalgar and earn more.